Welfare needed and given in the event of an atomic attack

Wednesday, March 07, 1951

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Seventh in series.

Bill Leonard hosts. This week's topic is welfare. Commissioner Robert T. Landswell is guest. Landswell answers questions that have been sent in by listeners.

If New York City were bombed how would I find out quickly what happened to family who live in New York City? Phones should not be cluttered with personal calls.

If I am at work when a bomb falls nearby, how can I find out about my family and how can they find out about me? Local communities will set up registration bureaus. All information about dead, injured, homeless and missing will be channeled from welfare centers and hospitals to these registration bureaus.

What if our home is destroyed? Families will be taken to large and suitable building designated at welfare centers for emergency care, food, clothes and a place to sleep until they can go to the home of a friend or relative. If necessary, further assistance and temporary housing would be arranged. Able-bodied men will be needed to clear debris, fight fires and do other rescue work, or he should continue working if he works in vital industry.

Should I keep an emergency food kit? If every household had 2 to 3 supply, that would ease the situation. Keep food that does not require cooking in case gas supply is cut off. Recommend keeping canned food or well-wrapped food.

What about emergency clothing? Civil defense welfare centers will provide some or will have to buy some. Not currently taking donations; they will call for it when they need it.

Will families double up in times of emergency? Yes. Thousands of families have already agreed to share their homes with families who have lost their homes.

The Red Cross will provide experience, personnel, and supplies. Salvation Army, Boy Scouts of America, church buildings from various religious denominations, and business organizations will also help.

The second part of the show relates to Welfare after an atomic attack in New York City.
Raymond Hilliard, Commissioner of Welfare of the City of New York, answers questions sent in by listeners.

Identification tags for children in schools?

Is welfare department prepared if an area with a large population were affected? Urge all families begin to plan temporary arrangements in case of emergency. If you have a roof over your head, stay where you are until further notification.

Brooklyn listener asks how can you feed a city that depends on bridges, tunnels and railways? There is a vast supply in storage. Established controlled routes that don't rely on bridges, tunnels and railways. Boats and planes can supply food should the need arise.

Parks to be used as temporary emergency housing? No. Looking only at indoor temporary housing with proper facilities.

Blueprints for attack are complete?. A plan is nothing without man-power. Will need 40,000 volunteers in all capacities.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 8287
Municipal archives id: LT1805


Raymond Hilliard and Robert T. Landswell

Hosted by:

Bill Leonard


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About Plan For Survival

"Maybe you, maybe me.  Death and destruction ... Panic in the streets ..." Not a program for pre-bedtime listening, these recordings examine the impossibility of sufficiently preparing for nuclear winter.

With surprisingly calm moderators, the Plan for Survival series (1950-1951) goes beyond the usual "duck and cover" advisement and into the details of an A-bomb attack, fallout shelters, the Soviet threat, first aid, radiation sickness, and food and water supplies following a nuclear attack. Guests include civilians recounting their survival experiences in wartime, like the missile blitzes in England.

The show was transcribed for the Civil Defense Network, which "linked virtually every radio station in New York State and operates entirely by air. It can function even if regular radio lines are destroyed." Bill Leonard hosts with expert panelists, and most programs consist of a balance of speculation and civil information for New York State in general and New York City in particular.  Intended to be a public service announcement for a new nuclear age, the record of these programs now serves to add perspective to 21st century fears —from suffocating due to sinus congestion to bags left in the subway. It's clear -- death comes from above.


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