Cinema History from the Cold War!

Community Protection Through Civil Defense

Jacksonville-Duval County Civil Defense Council
Office of Civil Defense
1963

In February of 1962, just months after the creation of a National Fallout Shelter Program, local government authorities in Jacksonville, Florida invited teams of architects and engineers employed by the Office of Civil Defense to search for suitable shelter locations in the city.  Aided by computer technology, the OCD experts examined building records and physical structures to compile a list of acceptable fallout shelters.  By May of that year, Jacksonville entered into negotiations with building owners to obtain permission to mark their property with the newly introduced black and yellow fallout shelter signs and stock them with supplies of food, water, medicine, and radiation detection equipment.  Introductory narration explains how Florida civil defense officials, hoping to set an example for other states to follow, filmed the early stages of implementing a fallout shelter network in a large metropolitan region.  In 1963, the OCD released footage of Jacksonville's efforts under the title Community Protection Through Civil Defense.

                             

From the opening scenes, the Jacksonville-Duval County Civil Defense Council stresses the importance of creating an atmosphere of cooperation among local authorities to gain access to resources and manpower and to help eliminate bureaucratic hold ups.  The film highlights how successful this tactic can be by documenting the completion of an ambitious goal: the stocking of 50,000 shelter spaces in a single day.  On October 9, 1962, a convoy of trucks provided by the Jacksonville Cartage Household Movers Association convened outside the famous Gator Bowl before setting off under a police escort for the Jacksonville Naval Air Station, which also served as a depot for federal fallout shelter supplies.  With the help of the Duval County Sheriff's Department and marine guards, the convoy cruised down recently completed expressways unmolested.  Arriving at the naval warehouses, newly recruited seamen methodically loaded supplies into semi-trailers under the watchful eye of their superiors.  The narrator points out the smooth transitions between each stage and location, explaining how extensive planning allowed for near flawless execution of the plan.

                             

The Jacksonville Times-Union offices, the headquarters of Prudential Life Insurance, and the Duval County Courthouse are among the locations visited by the supply convoy over the course of the film.  According to newspaper accounts detailing Jacksonville's efforts, the city's fourteen largest fallout shelters were completely stocked during the one day civil defense promotion.  The narrator admits that a few small failures in communication occurred during the process.  Several large posters, for example, meant to be emblazoned on the convoy trailers in order to advertise the Nation Fallout Shelter Program, never materialized.  Instead, small placards were taped around the vehicles.  In spite of this foible, national civil defense officials viewed Jacksonville's feat as a successful model which all the United States should strive to follow.  Unlike other films concerning the initial stages of local fallout shelter programs, Community Protection Through Civil Defense was not deemed obsolete and could still be rented or purchased from government catalogs until well into the 1970's.  Interestingly, history would ultimately show Jacksonville's timing to be impeccable.  On October 15, 1962, just days after the city completed its shelter stocking efforts, news broke of Soviet nuclear weapons on the island of Cuba, resulting in the Cuban Missile Crisis and ratcheting up calls for civil defense preparation across the country.

Protection Through Civil Defense may be viewed in its entirety HERE.