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Outbreak is the second episode of season one of Life After People: The Series. It originally aired on April 28, 2009.

Synopsis

This episode predicts the uncontrolled encroachment of nature upon the abandoned cities of Chicago, Atlanta and London, and how deadly viruses, like rabies, could spawn out of control as the populations of escaped pets and other animals, like wild hogs and the corgis belonging to Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, could explode without the interference of man. This episode also examines the fate of Big Ben, the John Hancock Center, the "L" Train, the Sears TowerWrigley Field and the Confederate Memorial Carving, the latter of which may last for more than 5000 years. The episode also explores Gary, Indiana, portions of which were abandoned by people in the late 1970's.

Plot

1 Day After People

Humans that once keeping responsible from the forces of nature have disappeared and nature is ready for an outbreak. In the Wrigley Field in Chicago, there's no one to gardened the walls, no one to maintain the Sears Tower and the John Hancock Center, and no one to manage the Chicago River that connects to the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, one of the most heavily engineered waterways in the world.

3 Days After People

A flooded Chicago.

It's been 3 days since humans disappeared and a rainstorm hits Chicago. The Chicago River should have flow into Lake Michigan but in 1900's man transformed the entire river to prevent pollution on the drinking water of Chicago, this engineering techniques were later used in the Panama Canal. But now, the river takes revenge, without people to open the gates to manipulate the water levels, the entire river system were quickly filled up. Initially, it flood the lower areas of Downtown Chicago and the basements of the buildings. Then, the flood takes its toll to the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, where it ends in Lockport Controlling Works. The cascade of water soon breached the gates, forcing the gate to collapse. It then soon flood the American Midwest, this include the city of Joliet.

1 Week After People

In London, Big Ben is running out of time. The clock had to be wound 3 times a week by the 2 royal clock-mechanics which took several hours to complete, but without people, the clock stop and the chimes stop chiming. The tower remains, but it has leaned 8.6 inches to the northwest of the tower.

2 Weeks After People

In the Buckingham Palace, the Queen's corgis are all alone. The palace contains 775 rooms, and that includes the 76 bathrooms, this provide the corgis for water source. For food source, the Royal Kitchen have a basement for food, thus when the Corgis have located it, they soon feed to the food that left behind for at least a few months.

1 Month After People

On the outskirts of Atlanta, kudzu is starting to spread. It was bought to the United States in 1876 from in order to feed the farmers animals and erosion control, but it didn't go as planned. Kudzu can grow up a foot a day, and spreads more than 18 feet underground. Without the 25 man maintenance team to clear the roadways in Atlanta and the surrounding counties, kudzu starts reeking havoc. Kudzu starts strangling trees, climbing telephone poles and power lines, covering bridges and roadways, and enveloping the rural houses.

Meanwhile, 60 million pigs in North America begins to struggle. Without any farmers to feed the species, they begin to starve, others are resort to cannibalism.

2 Month After People

The surviving pigs began to panic. The bigger pigs that weight 500 pounds starts pushing their way out of the pen, while others began burrowing under sheds. Eventually, millions of pigs escape into the wilds. After escaping, they began to to start breeding the feral swine in California, Texas, and Florida. Causing a new pig hybrid, they are more leaner, meaner, and more mobile with larger tusks and more hair. Pigs are very intelligent and good doers, thus can survive in many conditions, thus the pigs will thrive.

3 Months After People

Back at the Buckingham Palace, the Queens corgis have depleted most of the food in the royal pantry and kitchen. These food were originally for banquets up to 600 people and daily meals for 400 palace staff. The corgis begins to venture of the city, as they exit the palace 775 rooms. Corgis were originally bred as working dogs on the Welsh farms to round up herds of sheep and cattle, and since bears and wolves have been extinct in the British Isles for centuries, the Queens corgis won't have to worry, especially Rabies, which have been eradicated in the 20th century.

In America, pets that are lucky enough to escape their homes now face rabies, one of wildlife's most terrifying outbreak. More than 7000 animals, about 90% in the wilds, were annually infected with rabies in the time of humans. When the virus infect an animal, it struck the nervous system and cause inflammation which in turn into an antagonizing death. Every year, each states from Texas and Arizona drop oral bake vaccines by aircraft in order to prevent the disease to spread further the wild life. But without people to carry out the vaccination, it spires for over 30% in the coming years. Domestic dogs and cats have became infected with the virus that have been ventured out into the wild and bitten by the infected animal.

1 Year After People

In Chicago, nature is beginning to rise, including the ivies at the Wrigley Field as its begins to extend its green tendrils. These vines were flourished in the 1937 when they were planted to decorate and cover the outer wall, but without groundkeepers, the ivy begins to threat by overrun the whole stadium. While each vine can grow to a maximum of 15 feet, their vines can shed their leaves in each winter, causing organic material to sticks into the cracks of brick and concrete. It can decomposes into soil, which creates a higher platform for the news vines.

5 Years After People

The ivies have crawled up and blanketed the stands. Its roots have mostly inserted moisture into the cracks causing it to break up the walls. Another plant species, the buckthorn, begins to take over the pitch. It was brought from Europe in the mid 1800's, and the birds begins to spread buckthorn as its eat the fruit, making the birds to cause diarrhea, which in the way would quickly disseminate the plant. Without groundkeepers to mow the pitch regularly and treat the grass with chemicals, buckthorn seeds quickly fertilize on the pitch and sprouting in the wild that can grow up to 10 feet tall.

10 Years After People

The Sears Tower is slowly deteriorating from years of rainwater. In the aftermath of the Great Chicago Fire that lasted from October 8 to October 10 in 1871, the city began rebuilding vertically with new frames of steel, thus beginning the dawn of the skyscrapers. Moisture seeps down the skyscraper and begins rusting the bolts which holds the giant glass and aluminum panels as rainwater rots the roof of the structure. The combination of freezing wind, rain, and snow off the Lake Michigan violently batter the structure causing the plates to peel off the building and crash into the streets below.

A Visit to Gary, Indiana

Main Article: Gary, Indiana

Life After People visits Gary, Indiana. It was abandoned after the decline economy of the U.S. Steel which the majority of the city population decide to vacate and abandoned the city. The show explore to the notable landmarks of Gary, which include the Gary Union Station, the Gary Methodist Church, and the famous Palace Theater.

50 Years After People

The descendants of the royal corgis prowls the streets of London, but they are no longer a breed that the Queen will recognize. After several generations of breeding with other dogs, any traits of their royal lineage are long gone and they have evolved into a pack of wild hounds.

In Atlanta, kudzu is invading the city and its skyscraper, covering most of the major buildings in downtown Atlanta. Kudzu have already grown in small and abandoned lots and those have already creep out of the sites. When the the kudzu dies in the Winter, the plant sends up new set of vines in the Spring which cause to continue to climb and the deep underground root networks are now storing vast amounts of nutrients. Kudzu are capable of fast growth, which caused buildings to be climbed by kudzu with a hundred feet. The Georgia Dome, Atlanta's premier sports stadium is fighting for survival against kudzu. But the weight the vines alone can cause fatal collapse on the roof of the structure. While the kudzu overruns Atlanta, a thunderstorm roves in. Atlanta has experienced drought before in the time of humans, which caused kudzu to turn into tinderbox. Now, a lightning strikes the dried kudzu, causing the entire city to burn like it did during the Civil War. The glowing flames have light up the Confederate Memorial Carving on the nearby town of Stone Mountain.

In Chicago, wild growth have caused the Wrigley Field to become almost unrecognizable. The wooden scoreboard is now under siege of ivy and termites. It was one of the only 2 in a major stadium to be manually operated in the time of humans. But now, termites takes operation on the scoreboard which caused it to crumbles. On the field, thick nets of buck-thorns have been grown up to 20 feet high, which in turn blanketing the playing field.

100 Years After People

Disintegration is happening of the Chicago famous railway system, the elevated Chicago "L". In the time of humans, it was first founded in 1892 and began moving passengers to transport them to the city center, which in turn the second oldest in America. The paint of the steel girders is peeling off and the iron and steel is already exposed causing rust to eat away. The bolts and rivets erode, cracks, and snaps, causing the supporting beams to fracture, which caused distortion. The fracture of one member starts pulling down the other members, causing the domino effect and hitting the ground.

In London, the Thames river continues to rise, and rots Big Ben foundation. its already covered in vegetation, the windows have blown out and decorative stonework have chipped away. The tower lean gradually increase, becoming unstable causing the tower to collapse.

200 Years After People

In Chicago, the Sears Tower is beginning to crumble. Weather have battered the landmark into it's interior and the multiple shafts, ending in different level cause the cables to rust and snap, but the lift's brakes continue to work. But eventually, the brakes corrode and give way, falling down through the building, damaging and blasting the floors. 2 lifts connects the ground floor to the observation deck, and one of them free falls from the top floor speeding up to more than 200mph before hitting the ground, generating more than 1 and a half million pounds of force into its impact. The Chicago River have already flood the building, and this weakens the lower columns, causing it to corrodes and the entire skyscraper collapse. A massive ball of smoke with the twisted metal, steel, and broken glass comes reigning down for the Sears Tower.

250 Years After People

While the Sears Tower have collapsed decades earlier, the John Hancock Center is still standing. It owes its longevity due to its unique cross X-bracing of the steel beams located the outer exterior of the building which gives extra reinforced. But all of it's windows have been blown out and moisture have corroded its steel framing. At the corner of the 85th floor, the crucial beams converge, and the domino effect of rust, bend, and fracture of the stream of water have caused a critical nook. The final beams cracks and shears off causing the 15 floors above it start a corner-line collapse, eventually the John Hancock Center finally collapses after the floors then set off a floor-by-floor implosion destroying the whole edifice and the entire skyscraper.

300 Years After People

In the wilds, the rabies are struggling to survive. The virus requires dense animal populations in order to spread but domestic animals die off and wild animals have disperse from human settlements. The virus could only infect to a little as several thousand animals per year, causing the outbreak to die off and the pandemic is over.

5000 Years After People

Outside of Atlanta, Stone Mountain is the largest piece of exposed granite in the world, and it is the location of the controversial Confederate Memorial Carving. In the 1920s, the sculpture was first raised for work by the United Daughters of the Confederacy to begin work on the massive sculpture based off the Confederate States Civil War Leader Jefferson Davies, and Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, the sculpture was eventually completed in 1972, and it was measured from 90 to 190 feet. After 5,000 years, the carving is invaded by nature, but 90% of the carving remains completely intact, and it is still recognizable. The Confederacy lives on in Life After People.

Conclusion

Great cities of Chicago, London, & Atlanta have rise because of their geographical proximity of rivers, lakes, and fertile soils. The thriving metropolis are now rubbles, covered in vegetation, swarmed by wildlife, and camouflage beneath the mounds. Cities have been conquered by nature, losing many battles, and the environment have won the war, to retake the land where man great cities have built.

Transcript

Life After People Wiki has a transcript for this episode. To see it, click here.

Trivia

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Gallery

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