Boise, Idaho is startled by its listing as the city most vulnerable to terrorism in the Western U.S., reports the Los Angeles Times. A study funded by the U..S. Homeland Security Department says Idaho’s state capital was the only Western city in the top 10 among 132 urban centers ranked by vulnerability based on a mathematical calculation. The top five seemed logical: big cities with exposed ports and bridges, like New Orleans; Baton Rouge, La.; Charleston, S.C.; New York City-Newark, N.J.; and Norfolk, Va. Not a single West Coast city, from Seattle to San Diego, raised more than an eyebrow. Juneau, Alaska, ranked least vulnerable.
“It surprised us too,” said Walter Piegorsch, a mathematics professor at the University of Arizona, coauthor of “Benchmark Analysis for Quantifying Urban Vulnerability to Terrorist Incidents.” Scores depended on three main considerations: social demographics, natural hazards (floods, wildfires, earthquakes, extreme weather, etc.) and infrastructure vulnerability (roads, bridges, tunnels, ports, dams, skyscrapers, etc.). Boise faces high risk from extreme events like wildfires or failure of a large dam upstream, “Everybody was surprised,” said Charles McClure, a spokesman for the Boise Police Department. “Basically, we don’t understand how they arrived at that conclusion.”