You asked, we answered: 34 things you probably don’t know about Atlanta

How long could Atlanta survive in a disaster?

An illustration of a sick man lying on the ground reaching for help
Illustration by Uglylogo/

Currently Atlanta has just three days of emergency drinking water available if the taps went dry because of extreme drought, terrorist attack, or giant spider invasion. But once crews finish turning the 200-foot-deep former quarry in northwest Atlanta into a 2.4-billion-gallon reservoir, we’ll have a 30- to 90-day drinking water supply. And even if we were to run out of drinking water, says Felipe den Brok, the city’s director of emergency preparedness, Atlanta has agreements with local and state governments and federal agencies to assist with water and other needs to prevent Atlanta from going full-on Mad Max.

But let’s imagine what would happen if Atlanta suffered a large-scale disaster (pick one). Atlanta, den Brok says, could survive “quite a long time.” The hours following would be chaotic, den Brok says, but fairly quickly residents would see local, state, and federal agencies following an array of emergency response plans updated by regional officials throughout the year until things return to semi-normal. (Specific scenarios and responses are kept secret for public safety concerns, den Brok says; we asked if there’s a plan for a UFO invasion, to which den Brok replies, “I’m not even going to answer that question.”) Even still, he strongly advises residents to always have a 3-day supply of drinking water and “high-caloric” food on hand.

This article appears in our November 2019 issue.