For those of you who have already read UNDERCURRENT, you have already had some insight into how this should work. But I want to give you a behind-the-scenes look at how the Aquataine Government set about designing the critical evacuation plan that was not used in a real emergency for ninety-five years.
When that real emergency kicks off—okay, an explosion that cracks the dome where twenty thousand people live underwater—the alarms sound throughout the entire dome. I liken this to the Air Raid Sirens that used to be tested in schools at 1:00 p.m. every Monday (uhh… many years ago). Occasionally, our entire fifth grade class would walk in single file to the basement of Oliver H. Perry Elementary School where we would be safe from the Soviet Union’s nuclear missiles. That siren was very loud, and so Aquataine’s Flood Alert is, likewise, very loud.
Now that I have your attention, what are you going to do now? Well, that depends on where you are within the dome, which in this case is Aquataine’s Environmental Services Dome. But, it’s easy to know where you’re supposed to go. Just look down. For an emergency such as a flooding dome, you need people to act quickly. So I embedded colored path lights into the roads and sidewalks. They will tell you whether to move toward the transportation systems, or head to an evacuation submarine. The signals have simple roots, in that many cities today have evacuation routes mounted on street signs.
There is only one transportation tube connecting the ESD to Central Dome, so a large portion of the population can take the Inter-Dome Transport (IDT) monorails into Central. All IDT systems in ESD would take on the maximum number of passengers and head immediately out of ESD. Those trains would have precedence, and would be whisked through Central ensuring that, I suppose about six-thousand, are evacuated safely. I suspect about another four thousand could get through the connector tube as pedestrians and cyclists, or at least they could get out of ESD before the watertight flood doors are closed, sealing off the ESD. You don’t want to be caught on the wrong side of the doors!
The other ten-thousand or so would have to make their way to one of the evacuation submarines. Now in my mind, these subs are there for an emergency, but everyone jokes about it, thinking they’ll never need them. Maintenance on them is not the best, and the crews expected to pilot them have days jobs, as in the sub that Phelan boards to evacuate. The crew at the desalination plant, the sewage processing plant, and other public services have to maintain training that enables them to pilot the subs safely to the surface. During the active tests every five years, everyone gets a turn to drive one, some service is done, and then the subs are parked again.
Thankfully, the subs largely operate on auto-pilot, but the human pilots have to ensure doors and airlocks are sealed, enable the start of the motors, and disengage from the docking station. If the pilot’s experience permits, the subs are capable of maneuvering toward the shore or to a rescue ship.
Once all the residents have been evacuated, there’s a small group of emergency responders who stay behind to do whatever they can to stop the water or contain it to a section of the dome if possible. In response to this explosion, water was directed to bilge pumps which controlled the water within the dome, and the techs were able to inject high-pressure adhesives that rapidly expand, sealing the open cracks. This fix is only temporary, so an emergency repair sub was dispatched and attached by vacuum seal to the outside of the dome, sealing it off so permanent repairs can be made. So you see, it’s just that simple. When the day comes when we’re all living underwater. You can rest assured that these repair and safety protocols are being planned, refined, rehearsed, and improved. Just remain calm…