02 November 2011

Country Club Survivalists: Do They Have What it Takes?

As I talked to people about survival bunkers, one name kept popping up: Tom Cruise. Now, I don’t know if Tom Cruise does or doesn’t have a bunker under one of his houses, but it does seem possible. Possible enough, at least, for people in this business to cite him as one example of a growing trend towards self-preservation among the wealthy in this society. Another oft-repeated anecdote, which is more telling, is that one constant fact for companies building and supplying bunkers for private individuals is that their supply orders are being delayed: it seems that the United States government is in the midst of a massive bunker-building orgy, presumably in preparation for some kind of 2012-related catastrophe, and it’s snatching up all the freeze-dried food and the good building materials. "We’ve ordered food before," says Larry Hall when asked about this, "and gotten a phone call that said ‘hey, your order’s been circumvented, FEMA stepped in or somebody and they’ve ordered everything we can produce for the next three months." And it’s not only food that is in short supply. He claims to have ordered equipment specific to nuclear bomb shelters, such as blast valves (hardware attached to air intake and exhaust pipes that close when a shockwave occurs), only to find that the government has already bought all the available supplies. "Sometimes you can get those things," he says, "and sometimes you can’t." _TheVerge
There is a newer, richer breed of survivalist who thinks that money will buy him the ability to survive when the world around him is crumbling to the ground. They are preparing secure underground bunkers, missile silos, and other highly secure and costly shelters. A number of people are getting wealthy themselves, pandering to these country club survivalists.
Dan Hotes is a commercial real estate broker based in Seattle and San Diego that bills himself as an expert in the resale of Cold War-era missile bases and communication bunkers — specifically "those designed to withstand the effects of a nearby nuclear detonation." I’ve spoken with him a couple times, and his enthusiasm for this obscure topic is infectious. During one of those conversations I remarked on how hard it is to determine just how big this industry really is. So many people, I’ve discovered, want to talk off the record, or sell you on projects that might not exist at all.

"It's a real niche," he laughed. "Welcome to the club, okay? The bunker industry itself, if you look at it as a totality, there's a lot of money because the government's building them as fast as they can. We don't have access to that data. We're left with the scraps and handouts. There's a lot of people that want them, but a lot of people that won't pay for them. The interest level is high, the dedication level is medium, medium low." True to his career in real estate, he made sure that I plugged a Titan 1 missile base that he’s trying to unload, a facility situated at the former Larson Air Force Base in Grant County, Washington. "It's a really nice intact relic of the Cold War." And it can be yours for a cool $4 million. Would he ever live in one? "The missile silos are deep holes in the ground," he pointed out. "I wouldn't want to be down in one of those. I would never do that." I asked him about his plans for the immanent collapse of civilization. His answer was off the record, but I can sum it up in two words: "no comment."

...The president of the Vivos Group is Robert Vicino.... These days, he has moved on from the balloon business to monetize a moment of "inspiration, not a vision" that also occurred to him in the early 1980s. "For some reason," he told me, "I just had an inspiration that I needed a shelter for 1,000 people to survive something that was coming. I can't remember if it came in my sleep, but it was vivid and it was powerful." At the time, he says, he floated this idea past his employees and friends, who all evidently thought this was crazy. About three years ago he brought it up again, he says, and "everybody got extremely excited and said ‘Wow. You should have told us that. Now is the time. The world needs this, stuff is happening and stuff is coming.’ In other words, it's gone from thirty years ago, you know you're crazy, to now it's kind of a mainstream belief that yeah, something may be coming. People feel it in their gut." _theverge
It is easy to believe that "the end of the world as we know it" (TEOTWAWKI) may be coming, given the monstrous levels of debt + the shrinking core demographic of most modern, advanced nations. But more and more people are doing more than just believing it -- they are doing something about it.
Currently, the announced Vivos product line includes an 80 person shelter in Indiana "built to withstand a 20 megaton blast" (units start at $35,000), a 137,000 square foot, 900 person shelter in Nebraska ("above the subsided earth changes envisioned by many prophets") for a mere $25,000 per person; and other "economy" shelters that start at $9,950.

According to Vivos, each shelter includes fully furnished living quarters, deluxe bathroom, kitchen and dining areas, computers, theater electronics, exercise equipment, security facilities with a detention area, vaults for valuables and munitions, a communications center, laundry facilities, "and abundant storage areas for food, fuel, water, medicine, supplies and a wardrobe inventory with a large selection of comfortable clothing and footwear in all sizes." _TheVerge
Vivos claims to provide its members with enough supplies and shelter to allow them to survive for a full year, after a catastrophic TEOTWAWKI. But will one year be enough? Maybe not.
The Survival Condo Project is a nearly 200 foot deep, nuclear blast-hardened hole in which contractors recently built a steel frame, not unlike that of a skyscraper. Once complete, the facility — located somewhere in the middle of Kansas — will offer half and full-floor residential units designed to withstand floods, electromagnetic pulses, and indirect nuclear strikes (among other things) for $2 million or $4 million, respectively. Features include "redundant infrastructure for power, water, air, and food; as well as ‘shared or common’ facilities for extended off-grid survival."
...Brian Camden has worked as a consultant on the Survival Condo project. His company, Hardened Structures, calls itself the "world leader in underground shelter systems." While I can’t attest to that, I do know that the company is highly regarded by everyone I’ve talked to while researching this story. The construction management firm builds everything from prisons to schools to shopping malls. "We do it all," says Camden. "I work for the Army Corps of Engineers, we did a few hundred person shelter under the hospital in Kuwait last year. We've done work for the Jordanian government. We've done work for the Army Corps of Engineers, we do work for U.S. corporations and private individuals. We do work for the Air Force."

...Aside from nukes, common threat event scenarios include tidal waves or global flooding. These are fears that go back to the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Book of Genesis, which might point to their universality (and might suggest the psychological foundation of the 2012 meme). In the event of a massive flood, the bunker engineer has to account for things like the shelter’s occupant load and the amount of time the occupants plan on spending there. "[W]e have to put in CO2 scrubbers and oxygen machines. You calculate, with a thousand foot wave going over top, at 500 feet, how long will it take that water to reside. Is it 100 hours, 200 hours, 300 hours? Whatever the case is, and we calculate that, then we double for a safety factor. But even with that you still have to include self-rescue supplies in the shelter. If they believe you're going to be completely underwater, you must assume that the tidal wave may never reside. In other words, you're going to be underwater constantly. If that's the case, how do you get out? And there's design secrets, proprietary stuff that we do, that get the clients out.

...A home like [Ed Peden's] is an anomaly. In 1960, taxpayers paid $3.3 million to construct a facility with floors that were three feet thick, walls eighteen inches thick, and ceilings consisting of 18 inches of heavily reinforced concrete, three feet below ground. As he points out, "some of these missile sites are some of the strongest structures ever built on the planet." While a handful of these structures were sold off by the government after being decommissioned in the 1960s and 1970s, current arms control treaties with Russia mandate that decommissioned missile sites are to be destroyed. This means that, as demand for nuclear hardened structures increases, the supply never will. These are relics from a time when government money paid for engineering marvels that were sold a few years later for pennies on the dollar.

"We see these sorts of structures as the twentieth century's counterpart of the European castle: built by the government for defense of the realm at tremendous cost to the royal treasury, and now they've been turned over to a peasant and we're really happy to be here."

Ed’s company is called, fittingly, 20th Century Castles, LLC. So far he has sold 55 properties over the last 17 years, and as time goes on, it seems likely that demand will continue to rise. "Especially in the last couple of years," Ed says, "our email and telephone have been busier than usual, because people are seeking the strength of a hardened underground structure."

... _TheVerge

The problem with many of the country club survivalists is that they are not likely to have the level of common sense and practical skills which allow them to compensate for their expensive technology -- when it inevitably breaks down.

Once the design engineers and construction contractors are gone, it is up to the owner to keep all those expensive gadgets from breaking down and leaving him vulnerable to the elements and the unfriendlies. Gold, food, and practical trade goods might attract competent helpers, of course. But the smart survivalist will try to make his survival plans in conjunction with a competent community of widely skilled, practical minded persons -- and not try to go it alone, no matter how much money he can put into the project.

When TEOTWAWKI does come along, early survival may have more to do with luck than anything else. But long term survival will be another matter. Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.

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Blogger LarryD said...

Well, the more people who have some level of preparedness for emergencies and infrastructure failures, the better.

And this means that preparedness is now socially acceptable, even mainstream.

Wednesday, 02 November, 2011  
Blogger al fin said...

Right. The next step would be to form networks of preparedness groups, which collaborate in obtaining group rate pricing, share vital tips, and get together for low cost workshops and seminars.

That is the last thing that the big money survival racket wants to see happen.

Wednesday, 02 November, 2011  
Blogger Whirlwind22 said...

So you believe that the collapse of civilization is close at hand?

Wednesday, 02 November, 2011  
Blogger al fin said...

The collapse of civilisation happened a while back. It would be best to find a safe place before everyone else realises the fact.


Wednesday, 02 November, 2011  
Blogger LarryD said...

I don't know where you live, Whirlwind, but out here we have to deal with the occasional flood, or storm that knocks down the power grid for large areas for days.

Preparedness is just good sense, and the more people who are prepared, the more robust society is.

Thursday, 03 November, 2011  
Blogger LarryD said...

Bill Quick's survival discussion forum


Friday, 04 November, 2011  
Blogger LarryD said...

Case in point: October snowstorm knocks out power for a week in Connecticut. A very wet and mild early autumn, followed by a foot of wet snow plus strong winds. Not at all common in Connecticut, but freak weather happens.

Monday, 07 November, 2011  
Blogger Telemeco said...

Civilization has ended in the past many time,,,if you survive a nuclear holocaust, 6 months supply, them what>? if you don't have enough people to survive you are good as death

Saturday, 24 March, 2012  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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