During the dinner rush, the Pizza Hut on Glenstone Avenue is a kinetic juxtaposition: fast-moving people behind the counter, slow-moving people in front of it. Carbohydrate osmosis, I assumed. Earlier that afternoon in the Starbucks down the road, Randall told me Andrew:’s meetup group might be here. He’d been hosting meetups in the gymnasium of the Seventh-day Adventist Church on Belview Avenue, but the church disinvited the preppers after clergy leader and RN Janis Hall witnessed Andrew: deliver a scathing diatribe against modern medicine. But here, judging by the veterans’ hats, overalls and waistband cell phone holsters crowding the salad bar, I knew I was in the right place.
It seemed important to know if this all-encompassing negativity was histrionic or appropriate — that is, if the hard-core Preppers I had met were crazy or were, in fact, on to something. Just before the show-and-tell, I came across a news report about Dr. Irwin Redlener, the director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, whom Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had recently named to lead a commission investigating how ready the state was for another Hurricane Sandy-like emergency. I arranged an interview, figuring that he, if anyone, could answer my question.
As I got to know him better, Mr. Edwards told me the story of his own interest in disaster preparation, which began, he said, in 1972, when he went to see “Deliverance” on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx. (“I thought it was a camping movie.”) He entered the theater as a relatively normal 10-year-old, but emerged as a Prepper: “I said to myself, ‘Gee, I should get to learning everything possible to prevent that situation from occurring.’ ”
What programs like Doomsday Preppers have accomplished, or at least contributed to, is turning sometimes well-informed, sometimes totally unwarranted paranoia into a booming prepper-industrial complex. Each year, swap meets pack hundreds of convention centers and fairgrounds across the nation—they’re like camping shows with a dose of military surplus and hands-on instructional sessions. The September 2017 Kansas City Survival Expo & Gun Show, for instance, had tips on seed saving, “Overcoming 900 Health Diseases” and “A Devastating Street Self-Defense System.” The latter was taught by Norman Cantwell, who inspired Patrick Swayze’s character in Roadhouse. You get the feeling that he and Steven Seagal would be friends.
One of the best survival items you can get is a multi-tool – and it’s a Leatherman. It gives you knives, scissors, pliers, screwdrivers, and a saw in one little pouch. If you could only have one item with you in a survival situation, I’d be hard-pressed to think of anything better to have. This particular one has absolutely fantastic reviews and is similar to the one that the Army gave me when I went to Afghanistan.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in their "If You See Something, Say Something" campaign says that "the public should report only suspicious behavior and situations...rather than beliefs, thoughts, ideas, expressions, associations, or speech...". However, it is alleged that a DHS list of the characteristics of potential domestic terrorists used in law enforcement training includes "Survivalist literature (fictional books such as Patriots and One Second After are mentioned by name)", "Self-sufficiency (stockpiling food, ammo, hand tools, medical supplies)", and "Fear of economic collapse (buying gold and barter items)".
Individual survivalist preparedness and survivalist groups and forums—both formal and informal—are popular worldwide, most visibly in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany (often organized under the guise of "adventuresport" clubs), Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
While close friends visiting my home might be allowed a look at my haphazard bug-out bag, I mostly kept quiet about prepping, aware of the embarrassment I was courting. It was, therefore, with a measure of relief that I found myself this month among brethren Preppers who intuitively understood my desire to have at hand a packed supply of power bars or a LifeStraw personal drinking tool. You do meet Preppers in New York who are preparing for extreme events like solar flares or an eruption of the Yellowstone Caldera, but most say their concerns are more immediate, more local: chief among them being terrorist attacks, natural disasters and economic collapse.
Lastly, there are no “EXPERT” preppers that I know of! Just as there should be no one directing, suggesting or quantifying anyone’s efforts toward being ultimately prepared. We are all in different stages with any of the attributes required to be our best, not someone else’s best. There are just way to many factors that have to go into the equation for one person to know it all. I learned a long time ago to never point out a problem without recommending a solution. I feel survival training through this venue is best served by not casting doubt, mistrust and pointing out scary gaps in plans being worked on. Instead, Train skills, knowledge and attitudes. The “How Tos”, “Where to Find Useful Info” and just the considerations of the attitudes. Let the individual prepper decide how it fits into their specific plan.
The survivalist hard-on (yep, and I'll do it again, too) for prophylactics untouched by chemical pleasure-enhancers is the result of drilling deep (told you) into the magical properties of our latex friends. According to our research, these flexible, durable, waterproof wonders will be as much of a deciding factor in your dystopian longevity as fire and can openers.
I connected with Jennifer through Daisy Luther, the Virginia-based writer and survival preparedness expert behind the blog The Organic Prepper, which boasts more than 30,000 followers on Facebook and roughly 32,000 monthly visits on Pinterest. Jennifer says she learned a lot about prepping from the site and is a member of its affiliated private Facebook group, which Luther says is nearly 77 percent women. (Luther and other bloggers I spoke with for this story say that while they approach survivalism from a female perspective, they’ve encountered no small number of men who are interested in these practices as well.)
When I met Mr. Edwards in Brooklyn this month, I found a hulking man dressed entirely in black, sitting in front of a laptop and giving an Internet tutorial on bug-out-bag preparedness to members of Evolver. net, the “global community of cultural creatives” established by Daniel Pinchbeck, a proponent of last year’s Mayan apocalypse phenomenon. In between displaying items like his Chinese-made survival shovel with the saw blade and nail-puller, Mr. Edwards said: “Daniel just wants his people to be ready. Even if you’re cosmically conscious, you still need to prepare for what it’ll be like with no food or water.”
If an alternate location is not practical, consider storing items at various locations around your home. Not everything needs to be on shelves in the basement. Spread things out so that if the basement gets flooded, you still have dry items in the upstairs bedroom. Use your imagination and don’t forget to do the very best you can to package everything so it is resistant to moisture and pests.
However, if some tales of survivalist stockpiling are to be believed, our nutty neighbors have enough of the social lubricant squirreled away to hold the most epic end-of-the-world-party of all time outside of Edgar Wright's social circle. It might not be practical, but who needs practical when you and everyone you know is doomed to die from radiation poisoning or cancer?
My OCD side has often obsessed over the years about my prepping to the point of actually hurting my progress. See items #12, #13, and #14. Yes, you CAN procrastinate in an OCD manner! As you brought up, you can study study study to the point where nothing actually gets done. A favorite saying of mine is that “I hate do-overs”. I’d rather thoroughly examine a situation and do it right the first time instead of taking four tries to get it right. But that often accomplishes exactly what I’ve suggested…nothing.
She started searching for ways to make the family’s grocery budget stretch further — including using their sizeable plot of land to grow the majority of the produce they consumed. “I started using the coupons and the store discounts, and it made a huge effect in our budget,” she says. “And with the money I saved, I invested in a rain catcher — a water system — and that helped us put the water bill down.” Today, she sells eggs and home-baked goods for extra cash and teaches private classes on how to build what she calls “survival items,” including the aforementioned rain-catching system and solar ovens.
It was, however, the first spiritual healing session since Andrew: took over. Andrew: is a Mennonite, hardly a contemporary sect of Christianity—the denomination is currently split on whether homosexuality is a sin. Andrew: believes Christians are being persecuted in the United States today, and the “sodomites” are lucky. Because they “don’t have children,” he says, the Department of Human Services can’t take their kids away, like they did his first daughter 30 years ago when the 22-month-old burned herself on a range stove and Andrew: refused to take her to the hospital because he doesn’t trust doctors. I asked what he meant by sodomites. “The gay community,” he says. “The scripture calls them sodomites, so we have to be honest. They’re not gay at all; usually they’re very unhappy.”
Gerald Celente, founder of the Trends Research Institute, noted how many modern survivalists deviate from the classic archetype, terming this new style "neo-survivalism"; "you know, the caricature, the guy with the AK-47 heading to the hills with enough ammunition and pork and beans to ride out the storm. This [neo-survivalist] is a very different one from that".
We get that creature comforts will be ever more important as the things that used to make us happy slowly break and crumble around us. But do you really want to put a ton of effort into opening a bakery when everything is going to shit? And we hate to be the bearers of bad news, but no amount of odor elimination is going to stop the uncivilized world from smelling really, really bad.
The government of Prime Minister Theresa May dismisses such talk, but its own ministers have published contingency plans for an exit on March 29 without a deal, and for the first time since the end of rationing in the 1950s, Britain has a minister responsible for food supplies. More ominously, the government has advertised job openings in emergency planning.
After examining their new house — “Decent elevation, but not too solar-friendly” — Mr. Edwards issued his analysis. The Dosters rely on electric power for their heat and water, and given the prevalence of long winter power failures in their town, Mr. Edwards recommended a 60-gallon Aquatank water-storage mattress for under the bed. He also suggested at least 10 boxes of Nuvona emergency food and advised the couple to invest in two electric bicycles, energy-saving lights (“If you want to get jiggy with it, try the LEDs”) and a rooftop windmill for alternate generation.
The stories of alcoholic beverages historically being safer to drink than unfermented ones are apocryphal at best; however, as any 17th-century sailor would tell you, the addition of some spirits to potable water that's been sitting around for too long will make it much more palatable. Liquor distillation was originally invented in part for medical purposes, and alcohol can be used as a solvent to dissolve medicinal herbs -- and also to knock out patients during good old-fashioned fallout-shelter surgery. High-proof alcohol can be used as an antiseptic, and it does a great job of cleaning wounds and preventing infection.
Adam Hadhazy is a contributing writer for Live Science and Space.com. He often writes about physics, psychology, animal behavior and story topics in general that explore the blurring line between today's science fiction and tomorrow's science fact. Adam has a Master of Arts degree from the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Boston College. When not squeezing in reruns of Star Trek, Adam likes hurling a Frisbee or dining on spicy food. You can check out more of his work at www.adamhadhazy.com.