Even small towns as isolated as Walla Walla, Washington, may fall prey to a zombie outbreak at some point, especially given the global nature of travel and commerce. Although only two state highways connect to the city, it does receive regular cargo shipments by truck and by rail, and it does house a working airport with connections to Seattle, a major seaport and airport on the West Coast. Looking at the nature, history, and geography of Walla Walla can help identify concrete strategies for defending against and surviving a zombie attack when it comes to the area. Strengths and weaknesses of the region, and specific tactics will be the subject of the rest of this brochure.
Weaknesses/Limitations for Defense—
- Just as the highways into town help provide discrete pathways to protect, so would they become a liability if they were cut off. Solution: Keep off-road compatible vehicles on hand for escape into the scrubland that surrounds Walla Walla. It may be tempting to use horses or other livestock for this purpose, but sadly, animals cannot be counted on to survive or be immune to a zombie apocalypse.
- Closed-minded nature of many Walla Wallans to the idea of a zombie outbreak. The city may wind up being late to respond to what is clearly an undead army of mauraders and murderers, and residents will likely not be able to count on the local police force or City Council to contain an attack. Worse, the governors of the state of Washington tend to ignore the needs of the eastern third of the state, so we should not expect National Guard support for our defense. Solution: Every home should have its own civil protection equipment, emergency food supply, and armaments (see I Am Legend for more details).
- Lack of tall structures and public cameras to monitor events. The tallest building in Walla Walla is the Marcus Whitman hotel, and that is only 12 stories tall. The lack of a true city center also makes rounding up zombies somewhat challenging, although the fairgrounds may be used for this, potentially. Solution: Station lookouts in protectable locations across downtown, the East Isaacs corridor, the fairgrounds, and the length of 2nd Avenue. If cell phone service goes down, resort to battery-powered two-way radios. Several radios are available in the Armory on Alder Street, and are less secured than any of the weapons or ammunition.
Strengths/Opportunities for Defense—
- Army Depot in Umatilla, Oregon’s cache of biological agents and weapons. Thankfully, zombies are not capable of higher thought, or else they would realize what a threat the materials at the Army depot are for non-infected humans. While the bio agents do not pose traditional risk for zombified humans, the incinerators on the site could serve as an effective means of destroying large numbers of infected and non-infected corpses.
- Hanford Nuclear Facility in Richland, Washington. The site where the United States made the material dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, is now one of the country’s biggest Superfund cleanup projects. It is NOT RECOMMENDED to use any spent fuel rods, uranium, or other radioactive material in defense against zombies. But there are likely useful bleaching and other sanitizing products, large pieces of work equipment, and containment devices. Contact with sympathetic Department of Energy employees should be made as soon as possible so that these items can be identified for future use if needed.
- Inhospitable terrain for hiding. What works against humans taking shelter in an arid scrubland also works for us when we consider that zombies will have little place to hide out once outside the confines of the city itself. Because the Walla Walla Valley is situated in the middle of rolling wheat and unfarmed hills with few trees, zombies will be out in the open and easy marks from armored or quick-moving vehicles, or fortified shelters. The Blue Mountains to the east of the city also provide a clean water source year-round, and steep, poorly paved pathways, which zombies, with their reduced dexterity, will find difficult to traverse. If the city needs to be abandoned to the zombie invasion, the mountains should provide more than adequate refuge, and be somewhat easier to protect.
- Low population. The Walla Walla city and county area are home to roughly 60,000 people. This is a significantly better scenario than living in New York City when the zombie apocalypse strikes, where 8 million individuals reside. Between the very hot summers, isolated trade routes, and open fields of wheat and sage brush, non infected humans should be able to get the upper hand and stem the tide of undead, but it will take working together and thorough planning.
For more information on zombie outbreaks and what to do when they occur, see the CDC’s guide.