Newswise – London had its own 911 on July 7 and Whitley Strieber warns that it will happen again. Engineers warn that in a major disaster, cell phones will not work for emergency communications because of the overload on the system. This happened in both the New York and London attacks. What does work, besides the two-way radios that police and fire fighters use, is wireless e-mail sent through portable devices like the Blackberry. He also says that the undergrounds of major cities need to be made more resistant to bombs.
Engineer Thomas O’Rourke learned a lot from the way the 911 attacks affected New York and Washington. In New York, broken water mains poured 35,000 gallons of water per minute into a seven-story underground space, filling it “like a big bathtub” and flooding transportation tunnels all the way to New Jersey. Falling debris smashed into a vault beside the Verizon building just north of the Twin Towers, cutting cables. “What wasn’t severed was flooded by millions of gallons of water from the broken water mains,” O’Rourke says.
Much of the underground infrastructure of major cities is aging and was not designed to handle extreme stress. For example, he said, about 75% of the water mains in New York City and Los Angeles are made of brittle cast iron. Also, different utilities are often in close proximity to one another. According to O’Rourke, “You can have a major telecommunications line next to a water main next to a high-voltage electric cable,” meaning that a breakdown in one of them can take down them all.
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