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Nuclear attack PSA leaves New Yorkers asking, 'Why now?'

The 90-second video isn’t tied to any specific threats, a city official said. It’s about raising awareness of something most people haven’t given much thought.
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/ Source: The Associated Press

New York City residents are accustomed to warnings about all kinds of potential threats — severe weather, public health, mass shootings.

But a new PSA on surviving a nuclear attack has rattled some cages.

Released this week by the city’s emergency management agency, the 90-second video advises citizens to stay indoors and wash off any radioactive dust or ash. It opens on a computer-generated street, devoid of life. Damaged skyscrapers can be seen in the background.

Looking into the camera, a spokesperson says: “So there’s been a nuclear attack. Don’t ask me how or why. Just know that the big one has hit.”

Many New Yorkers were left asking, “Why now?”

Christina Farrell, the city’s emergency management deputy commissioner, said the video isn’t tied to any specific threats. She said it’s about raising awareness of something most people haven’t given much thought.

“There’s no overarching reason why this is the time we sent this out,” Farrell told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “It’s just one tool in the toolbox to be prepared in the 21st century.”

She said the agency’s goal is to empower people regarding a scary subject, and despite the mixed reactions to the video, “people have thanked us that we are approaching this topic.”

“I don’t know if there’s ever the perfect moment to talk about nuclear preparedness,” she added, saying city officials have discussed implementing nuclear guidelines for quite some time. New York’s emergency response program, Ready New York, has been around since 2003.

Mayor Eric Adams has said he doesn’t believe the video was alarmist, telling reporters Tuesday “I’m a big believer in better safe than sorry.”