"Operation Alert" Drills


Beginning in 1954, the entire nation took part in an annual defense drill called “Operation Alert.” For the first exercise, on June 14, 1954, the FCDA pretended that nuclear bombs had hit about 100 American cities, including three attacks on New York: E. 57th St. and 1st Ave. in Manhattan, E. 157th St. and St. Ann’s Ave. in the Bronx, and Jay St. and Schermerhorn St. in Brooklyn. During the drill, everyone was supposed to get off the street and find shelter while government officials and volunteers practiced what their duties would be in an actual attack scenario.40

In 1956, the FCDA took charge of the way “Operation Alert” was presented in the media by producing its own short film. The film showed a strangely calm and efficient evacuation of New York, which had just been hit by five hydrogen bombs. For once, there is no traffic jam at the Lincoln Tunnel.41  

The video below shows newsreel footage of the 1954 civil defense drill.

Operation Alert 1954

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