"Zombie apocalypse." That blog posting headline is all it took for a behind-the-scenes public health doctor to set off an Internet frenzy over advice about keeping water and flashlights on hand in case of a hurricane.
"You may laugh now, but when it happens you'll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you'll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency," wrote Dr. Ali Khan on the emergency preparedness blog of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Above the post is a photo of what appears to be a dirty-fingered female zombie.
Khan's postings usually draw 1,000 to 3,000 hits a week. This one — posted Monday — got 30,000 in a day. By Friday, it had 963,000 page views and was the top item viewed on the agency's site. "The response has been absolutely excellent. Most people have gotten the fact that this is tongue-and-cheek," Khan said.
More important, CDC officials said, it is drawing interest from teens and young adults who otherwise would not have read a federal agency's advice on planning an evacuation route or how much water and what tools to store in case a major storm rolls in.
The idea evolved from a CDC Twitter session with the public earlier this year. Dave Daigle, a veteran communications specialist, proposed the idea of using a zombie hook to spice up the hurricane message. Khan, director of emergency preparedness, approved it immediately and wrote it himself.
How to prepare locally: The St. Petersburg Times' hurricane guide comes out Sunday.