Tales of zombies may have originated in Haiti, but if TV has taught us anything, it's that a deadly disease can pass quickly, from the monkey in "Outbreak," people taking bath salts and "The Walking Dead," the threat of a destructive disease is real, and Covington needs to be prepared.
But what should you do if a zombie apocalypse sets in? Where should you go and how should you prepare to fight for your life and that of your family? Several top officials have weighed in on what you should do in case of an emergency.
How it could happen
According to popular TV, the virus that turns you into a flesh-hungry killing machine is air born, and when you die, you become a zombie - or walker, if you will.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, "In movies, shows and literature, zombies are often depicted as being created by an infectious virus, which is passed on via bites and contact with bodily fluids. Harvard psychiatrist Steven Schlozman wrote a (fictional) medical paper on the zombies presented in ‘Night of the Living Dead' and refers to the condition as Ataxic Neurodegenerative Satiety Deficiency Syndrome caused by an infectious agent. ‘The Zombie Survival Guide' identifies the cause of zombies as a virus called solanum. Other zombie origins shown in films include radiation from a destroyed NASA Venus probe (as in ‘Night of the Living Dead'), as well as mutations of existing conditions such as prions, mad-cow disease, measles and rabies."
All it would take is one undead to create a maelstrom of zombies walking the streets of Covington and Newton County. Remember, we have nearly 100,000 people in this county. This disease could pass quickly and the results could be devastating for our town.
What should you do?
Seek shelter immediately, around people not likely to die naturally soon or slow you down if you need to escape quickly.
"Make sure you have plenty of supplies; don't wait until the last minute," warned Jody Nolan, Deputy Director for the Covington/Newton County EMA. You should have one gallon of water per day per person in your household and/or work place (minimum of three days). Nutritious food like canned soup, energy bars, mainly pre-packaged meals. You should also have any medications you may need (it will be very difficult to acquire medication in a disaster of any sort). Have a secondary place to evacuate too. In many instances a shelter would not be the best place to go. Keep your cell phones charged (before the power goes out). The main thing is be PROACTIVE instead of REACTIVE. HAVE A PLAN!"
The CDC also suggests medical kits "though if a zombie bites you, you're a goner," clothing and bedding, hygiene products, tools and supplies and important documents; though if the end of the world is near, your birth certificate might not do you any good as a way to barter food or shelter.
Also remember, you need to find a place where you have access to food and water, ammunition and weapons and can easily see any zombies trying to breach your compound. Walmart would be nice - they have all of these things in their stores - a better place would be the Newton County Jail. Not only do you have easy access to weapons and stables, there is also the ability to lock yourself - or others - in a cell. Although The News attempted to speak with jail officials, they declined to comment.
Although many criminals in the jail, and many people in Walmart, could have violent tendencies, it is unlikely to matter once they have become a zombie. The thirst for brains is the same, be they murderer or school teacher.
"Be ready to take care of yourself and your family," said Nolan. "Consider yourself and your family survivors not as victims, be responsible for your own safety and your family's safety. DO WHAT EVER IT TAKES! I have a very extensive plan in place, it involves quite a long list of people with special skills (many of which have been forgotten with time). I have extensive supplies and resources. Other than that I will not disclose any further information. If you show up at my compound you had better be ready to have something to offer or you will be turned away!"
Also, be prepared to accept that old friends and family may have to be dealt with for the safety of the county - possibly the world - in case of an outbreak. Do not hesitate to deal with the problem. Remember, once these people have turned, they will not remember you or hesitate to take a bite out of your tasty flesh.
How do you fight them?
There is only one way to kill a zombie, and that is to destroy the brain. This can be done a number of ways. Guns work well, as do crossbows (see "The Walking Dead"), knives and blunt objects like crow bars, ball bats and tire irons will also work, as will knives, axes and machetes. One less employed method is burning, because the heat will destroy the brain, destroying the flesh-eating monster.
According to Yahoo Voices, you can also starve them out. "A lot of people don't understand that zombies will continue rotting indefinitely. If you can survive a good four to five years into the apocalypse, then you'll live in an almost zombie-free world. Once the zombies infect more than 50 percent of the population, they'll have a hard time finding more people to kill and infect. Because of this, their numbers will stabilize for a couple of years and then begin to fall. A zombie only has a life span of two to three years, after which point they will be too corroded to be any threat."
It's unclear if this method will work; however keep it in mind if you can survive that long during a zombie apocalypse.
Nolan appeared prepared to fight. In an email Tuesday he said, "Almost anything can be used as a weapon, I favor the ones that are effective at a distance. I will leave the rest of that answer to the imagination. In this situation it would not be a good idea to disclose all of your personnel protection stockpile."
Newton County School Superintendent Gary Mathews didn't seem to think he would be much for fighting zombies, and elected to delegate that job elsewhere. "I'd be under my desk hoping the zombies wouldn't see me. But, before I take cover, I would call our building's SRO (school resource officer) down to my office. He can take it from there."
What about the children?
Nearly 20,000 students attend one of Newton County's public schools, not to mention the staff inside those schools as well. According to Mathews, in the event of a massive outbreak they would follow a protocol designed by Nolan, however, Mathews also said that "after we panic, we put our SROs on alert." He suggested that students and teachers hide under their desks while SROs patrolled the hallways.
"Our teachers would be using their technology to continue their lessons with teachers while all are under their desks. This means we would have to pull out all the stops using iPads and hand-held devices such as cell phones, iPhones, and BlackBerrys," he said, adding that students and teachers would not last long in the school. Students and teachers could not survive "beyond 5 p.m. as homework is due the next day and our cafeterias are shut down." He also suggested spoons and forks from the school cafeterias as potential weapons, should they be needed.
When asked how he would react to such a situation, Mathews said he would "call the Board Chairman and then the Governor and then the President. And then get under my desk."
What happens after?
In the event of a zombie apocalypse the world as we know it will be gone. There will be no banks, no government and no Judge Judy. The few left will need to re-build and figure out how to go on and start anew, with no laws but the one's they make themselves. A good suggestion is to play one of the thousands of games available online and prepare yourself in that manner, or read "Lord of the Flies," while it is a different concept, it's generally dealing with the same sort of thing. The world after everything we've come to know and love is gone.
For more on surviving a zombie outbreak, check the CDC's website at http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/zombies.htm.