# How many people can the government realistically save?

## Backstory and Setting

I'm forging an alternate history set in the year 2012, a horrible zombie virus is sweeping across America, it spreads extremely quick and is incurable. The infected are basically Dawn of the Dead zombies that are smart, a deadly threat. The Center for Disease Control has decided to save as many of the American people as humanly possible. While the states on the West Coast and central America have already fallen into chaos, the remaining states of the East coast can still be saved; over 100 million people. The government has decided to set up shop in the North-Easternmost states of New York, and have already blown up the bridges and entrances to the island. Now Military rescue Helicopters are spreading across the "Survivor Zone", based on Aircraft carriers.

The Question

While figuring out a number for survivors that would come to live in the safe zone, I hit a mental block as population density and survival (at least in terms of food and water) are one of my many weak spots. The safe Zone is over 350000 km squared and has a current population of over 40 million after riots. Assuming that each person is allowing an average of 1000 square feet and the rescue missions have a 6 in 10 success rate, how many people can the government realistically house, feed and keep alive in the safe zone?

• Manhattan can't survive, there's no food supply Jun 1, 2016 at 6:37
• @Separatrix there, edited Jun 1, 2016 at 7:00
• Depends... How long do you want to keep people safe ? And I don't think you would have such a well-drawn line between zombie/no-zombie lands, but I guess it's for clarity's sake...
– user20258
Jun 1, 2016 at 8:03
• It's not clear if this question is about the number of people who can be rescued and processed in to a safe zone using an unspecified number of helicopters or what the carrying capacity of the land is given an unspecified means of producing food for a population with a certain density. Either way, I'd suggest that there's information missing that would make the question(s) clearer and more answerable, and the question should probably be split into at least two parts.
– John
Jun 1, 2016 at 12:13
• Is the question about how many people could be rescued, or fed and supplied long term, or how hard will it be to defend the boarder? You also need to state government capacity for rescue (how many working helicopters and does a failed rescue kill the crew) Jun 2, 2016 at 0:23

Let's assume we have only one growing season, harvest efficiency $80\%$ and all area of Maine. So you need $40,000$ square feet ($0.00371 \text { km}^2$) per person. Maine area is $91,646$ square kilometres.
Simple math reveals: you can feed up to $24,702,425$ vegetarians ($24 \text { million}$) from agriculture of Maine size. This agricultural area would be distributed on many states in your case.