Where to Hide: Surviving Five Apocalypse Scenarios

Oh, the places you'll go!
That's gonna smart.

So, you’ve been invited to participate in an apocalyptic event? What to wear, what to bring, who to party with; all important decisions. But the really important choice is where you’re going to experience this life-changer (life-ender?).

The “where” selection is strongly influenced by what type of apocalypse you’re getting walloped by, and most importantly, whether the disaster is survivable or not. A remote chance of enduring evokes our inner, less jowly, Churchill — “Never, never, never give up!” We’ve already offered some tools to ensure you can fight, and survive, if possible. Now, places that will delay your turn as worm-food and get you to the food-hoarding, zombie-killing point — you know, the fun stuff. But first, a hard truth: there are just some things even the hardiest, most persistent winners can’t get past.

1. Unsurvivable Global Annihilation

My only regret is that the world’s ending


Not to be a pessimist, but certain events are just extinction-level. A six-mile wide asteroid struck the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million year ago, wiping out all but small enclaves of life, right down to bacteria. About 250 million years ago, during the Permian-Triassic period, a Siberian super-volcano spewed various forms of carbon into the atmosphere that similarly set back life to square one on the blue marble. We’ve all seen the variations on the theme in movies; the aforementioned giant meteor, solar gamma ray burst, supernova, planet-busting alien death-ray with an earth-shattering ka-boom.

So, if that’s what’s coming this Friday, we think it’s best to settle in, surround yourself with family and close friends, and indulge in all those sybaritic pleasures you’ve cut back on under the advice of your doctor/minister/significant other. It’s the end of the world and you feel… fine. And why not blow your 401k on first class tickets for you and your friends to the Seychelles? If this island paradise is good enough for a Royal honeymoon, it’s probably good enough for an apocalypse or two. Since the world is ending, you won’t have to concern yourself with global warming and a rising ocean lapping over this garden spot (or is that the Maldives?).

A caveat: if this is truly Armageddon, with a capital “A” (also know as the End of Days), we recommend that the Chosen focus on good works rather than hedonism, lest they find their names stricken from the access list across that celestial velvet rope. Though, if you’re truly one of the Chosen, you would probably do so without our advice, right? Just grab us another Mai Tai, please, and maybe an asbestos bathrobe. We’ll tell Beelzebub you said, “hey”.


Aliens, Nukes, the Sniffles and Volcanoes

Barring that cataclysmic event, a number of catastrophes should be considered, and with each a respective “best” place where you might ride out the disaster. Not intended as the sine qua non, these suggestions offer a considered option should you find yourself contemplating the countdown to the terminus of Mayan timekeeping.

2. Alien Invasion

Anybody down for hacking the mothership?


The arrival of visitors from another galaxy suggests a distinct technological advantage, which makes quick subjugation of our lowly species very likely. If you want to be around for the subsequent human insurgency (You’ve seen the movies — there’s always a human partisan effort, and you want to be part of it), you need to survive and stay out of the alien food chain. That means avoiding population centers and key infrastructure, which will be the top priorities for achieving global domination. The densely populated coasts are out — you want a fly-over state. With apologies to all those in middle of the country (your consolation is that you’re more likely to survive the invasion) but most of the biggest U.S. cities are on the edges.

Of those few large cities in the interior, none are in Wyoming. The Cowboy State is full of natural beauty, yet the second least densely populated state. You can hide-out surrounded by the grandeur of our first national park, Yellowstone, waiting for the opportunity to join the rebel alliance while the population centers are crushed by space invaders.

3. An Exchange of Nuclear Weapons

Wait, I wasn’t supposed to press the red one?


Global thermonuclear war comes in a couple flavors — a few nukes lobbed for effect and an all-out, empty the silos “hail mary”. The latter is akin to an extinction level event — the ensuing winter from debris in the atmosphere is likely to significantly cool the planet, aka “nuclear winter”, and wipe out all plant and animal life, on top of the initial destruction wrought by thousands of nukes. Polar bears and penguins will be the only beasts summering in Miami, after the smokin’ hole that was US Southern Command cools. In the case of this attack, refer to the “Unsurvivable” option above.

In a small game of nuclear catch, where a few strategic weapons are launched against key targets, you will again want to avoid population centers. However, you also want to avoid any place that might just happen to have a military base, including the aforementioned Heartland. Driving across country means exposing yourself to serendipitous Army and Air Force installations in the middle of nowhere. Colorado is certainly not the place to be, unless you have an all-access pass to one of the strategic facilities located there. Even then you might reconsider. We like Flores, Guatemala.

Guatemala’s value as a trans-shipping point for narcotics diminishes once its principal market, the U.S., goes “poof” amid radioactive smoke and glazed surfaces. Located in the remote Peten lowlands of northeast Guatemala, Flores will escape the notice of military strategists and scavenging opportunists. Flores is a 25 hour drive from Brownsville, Texas, and offers a small airport and easy access to the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean.

Why not Mexico? The country is a beautiful land rich with resources and an educated middle-class, but our southern neighbor would likely devolve into a struggle between the Los Zetas and the Sinoloa cartel. The evaporation of the U.S. drug market and the loss of foreign aid (which allows the Mexican government to maintain any semblance of advantage against the cartels) would spell a bad time for a vacay to Cancun.

4. Pandemic

I’m not feeling so well…


The infuenza pandemic of 1918 lasted two and a half years and left 30 to 40 million dead. Adjusted for (population) inflation, the same virulent vector would kill 210 million, with particular devastation to highly mobile (read: First World) populations. With the interconnectedness of today’s society, you’ll be hard pressed to get some distance while remaining close to modern medical facilities. Further, the diminishing thresholds for an engineered bio-weapon make a terroristic scenario the most likely on this list. That’s why we’re headed to Wisconsin at the first sniffle.

It may seem counter-intuitive to head to cold environs during flu season; however, Wisconsin has one of the highest ratios of hospitals to patients and one of the lowest infectious disease rates. Compared to the hot-house of Florida, with an aging population particularly susceptible to viruses and the perfect incubating climate, the chilly north is your best choice for surviving. Add the presence of large bodies of water, especially in the event of virally-induced zombification, and Wisconsin becomes even more attractive. Because, as everyone knows, zombies can’t swim.

5. Super-volcano

“Super” might not be the best descriptor


Volcanic eruptions have historically been the Earth’s most dramatic and violent change agents. Powerful explosive eruptions drastically alter the landscape for miles around, and sulfuric acid aerosols sprayed into the stratosphere can change the planet’s climate temporarily, and sometimes for decades. More distant places may avoid complete destruction, but cities, crops, and critical infrastructure can still be damaged by tephra (fragmented rocks and cinders), ash, lahars (mud and debris flows), and flooding. In the event of a replay of Krakatoa, you’ll want a seismically stable area, with few to no volcanoes.

California and Hawaii are out right away. But so are South Carolina, the mid-Atlantic states, and the states encircling the major New Madrid fault line affecting Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi. In fact, 39 of the 50 states are seismically suspect. And while North and South Dakota look relatively stable, their relative proximity to the volcanoes of the Pacific Rim put them off limits. New England is the place to be. New England has no volcanoes of its own, far from other volcanoes, and has been the most historically stable portion of the U.S. outside Texas and the Dakotas. Time to get used to lobster rolls, hopefully sans ash garnish.

A Final Eulogy

Got an epitaph figured out?

Ultimately, the exact location may matter less than the company with which you surround yourself. Family, friends, loved ones; wherever they are is probably the best place to be. Our social networks provide emotional support in stresses of normal life. In the struggle for existence, they are going to be ones who have your back — a critical factor for safety and survival. Maybe that’s another reason to get cracking on those Christmas New Year cards.

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