Doomsday Preppers in the Miami Valley
By Tim Walker
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see.”
You just can’t argue with faith.
Be it faith in a person’s religion, faith in the Cleveland Browns or faith in a belief that civilization as we know it is about to come to an end — there simply aren’t enough words in the dictionary to dissuade someone that some of their most cherished beliefs simply may not be true.
The National Geographic Channel’s new series “Doomsday Preppers” premiered on Tuesday, February 7th, and it offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives of people who are busy preparing for the worst. As the show’s official website puts it, “Doomsday Preppers explores the lives of otherwise ordinary Americans who are preparing for the end of the world as we know it. Unique in their beliefs, motivations, and strategies, preppers will go to whatever lengths they can to make sure they are prepared for any of life’s uncertainties.” And believe it or not, some of those doomsday preppers — although none yet featured on national television — are located right here in the Miami Valley.
Having received a number of “doomsday” themed emails over the years, all forwarded to me from a local businessman I’d become friends with, I decided to reach out to him for some insight into this strange and decidedly paranoid world.
“Yes, absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt,” “Neal said recently when asked if he really believed that our civilization was about to come to an end. Neal, like all of the other doomsday preppers featured in this article, asked me to keep his real identity a secret — a very real fear of shadowy “government reprisals” underlay all of these requests. Neal is in his late 60s and has lived in the Dayton area for most of his adult life, having relocated from Buffalo.
“I believe that we’re living in what the Bible refers to as the Last Days,” continued Neal. “President Obama is a Muslim, he shouldn’t even be the President because it’s been proven that he wasn’t born in this country — did you know he has work camps already set up near the Ohio/West Virginia border? Concentration camps, dozens of them — huge labor camps that can house thousands of dissident citizens, once they’re rounded up and arrested.”
“Why would they be arrested?” I asked.
“Don’t be naïve, Tim. It’s going to be martial law,” explained Neal, dragging on his cigarette. “Once the economic system collapses and the food riots start, there’ll be armed patrols in the streets. Anyone who opposes the government will be arrested and put in these camps — the ones they don’t shoot immediately, anyway.”
For the sake of argument, I agreed with Neal that the camps existed, and asked what he was doing to prepare for this eventuality. He drove me to a local business not far from his, and pointed at a semi trailer.
“You see that?” he asked, pointing. “I have one just like it. Bought it off a local guy and I have it parked at a friend’s farm. I’m going to wait until one night after dark — so my neighbors won’t see — and I’m going to bury it on my property and use it as a shelter. I’ll have my guns, food, clothes — everything I’ll need.”
“You’re going to bury a semi trailer,” I asked. “In one night? Discreetly?”
“It’ll be perfect,” he answered, a gleam in his eye. “They’ll never find me there.”
Rumors, myths, and paranoia spring like mushrooms from the fertile soil of the internet, and the doomsday prepper community takes full advantage of that fact. Websites like SHTFplan.com (“When it hits the fan, don’t say we didn’t warn you”), AmericanPreppersNetwork.com, and CollapseNet.com disseminate information, advice, instructions and lists of items we’ll all need to have on hand when the local Kroger isn’t open for business anymore.
“I’m ready. All I need are some more guns,” said my friend “Bob” to me recently. Bob is in his early 40s and a veteran, lives in Kettering, and owns a local business. His preparations and beliefs, though perhaps not quite as extreme as Neal’s, still reveal a decidedly survivalist bent and a palpable fear of the future.
“These are my canned goods, batteries, flashlights, my water — one gallon per person per day is my rule of thumb, and I have enough here for two weeks. Once the unrest hits, God knows what we’ll do, but we’ll have enough here to get by,” he explained.
“Do you really see all this as being necessary, Bob?” I asked.
“Are you kidding?” He looked at me like I was crazy. “Gas will be over five dollars a gallon this summer, and the money is just going to keep dwindling and dwindling until people can’t survive anymore, and then the whole system is going to collapse. It’s going to be chaos — anarchy — martial law. If you were smart, you’d be getting ready for it.”
“I need some more guns — you know anyone who can sell me some?” I asked. Sure enough, Bob answered in the affirmative. Perhaps the most intriguing thing to dwell on regarding doomsday preppers isn’t their radical preparations after all, but instead the various possible scenarios for which they’re preparing …
Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Walker at TimWalker@DaytonCityPaper.com