Biden’s statement on nuclear ‘Armageddon’ risk brings back recollections of ‘60s in Jacksonville

President Joe Biden said the risk of nuclear ‘Armageddon’ is at highest level it’s been in 60 years

If you are under 50, you may not know about fallout shelters and nuclear bomb threats.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If you are under 50, you may not know about fallout shelters and nuclear bomb threats.

President Joe Biden said Thursday night that the risk of nuclear “Armageddon” is at the highest level it’s been in 60 years.

Military experts are saying there is no new intelligence about the threat, but the president’s statement does open up concerns.

News4JAX on Friday spoke with local authorities and others about Jacksonville and civil defense and what, if anything, can be done to protect you.

Members of the United Service Organizations were downtown on Friday — not for any military reason but to prepare for a half-marathon on Saturday. But this shows how Jacksonville is a big military town, and because of that, a possible target in the event of an attack.

It’s something Jacksonville took very seriously during the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 1960s.

An old clip of “Duck and Cover” is how many remember the nuclear era. It might seem comical now, but during its day, it was a very real concern. News4JAX on Friday talked with Terry Terrell about that.

“I don’t think that really anything you do to protect yourself from radiation fallout,” Terrell said. “I remember seeing videos where they would do the air raid, or the bomb thing, and you see the kids get under their desks and everything. But it would never help.”

Those who are younger have a whole different take.

“Well, if there is a nuclear event, we’re probably screwed, right?” said one person named Larry, who had never heard of a fallout shelter or anything of that nature.

In the ‘60s in Jacksonville, the old Prudential building was a nuclear fallout shelter, and that’s where people were told to go in the case of a nuclear event, but now you don’t see these shelters anymore.

A film was shot in the ‘60s shot by WJXT and produced by the old Jacksonville civil defense department, which no longer exists. It showed how those shelters were stocked and prepared for an emergency. This was a film that was actually used nationwide for training. This was during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Air raid shelter signs were once commonplace — not anymore. Air raid sirens are no longer tested, and in the event of a nuclear emergency, information would come locally from the emergency operations center.

News4JAX reached out for comment and received a statement from the Jacksonville Fire and Department.

“The Emergency Preparedness Division plans and prepares for all types of disasters and emergencies while maintaining a constant posture of readiness for events that could impact our community. JaxReady.com has information to help residents ready their households for emergencies, including instructions for sheltering in place and reacting to a major terrorism or hazardous material incident. Visit JaxReady.com/Preparedness for more details,” the statement reads.


About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.