Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

December 6, 2012

The end of the world is only the beginning of the adventure for preppers

— — The end of the world is approaching fast if you believe that theory about the Mayan calendar forecasting doom or Planet X coming to smack the Earth like a big cue ball. Right now, I’m not worried about any of that. I fully expect to be here after Friday, Dec. 21, 2012 comes and goes.

I do have to admit that all these forecasts of impending doom have gotten me interested in preparing for trouble. Last July when that windstorm blew through the county and knocked out our power for a week, I saw the results of not being prepared. My Mom and Dad, fortunately, keep a lot of food in their pantry, plus they have good neighbors who are ready to help them out. Some of my relatives brought over a generator and my sister, Karen, hauled in another one from North Carolina. Now my parents have a generator that’s ready to start up immediately so they can have some lights, heat, and a refrigerator that works. They also keep plenty of extra water on hand.

My neighborhood in Princeton was lucky. Except for a tree falling down and missing a car and a house, we didn’t have much happen to us. Power flickered for about a minute, and that was it. I remember when I got on the phone and made plans with Karen to come up and help our parents.

“Did you lose your power?” she asked.

“No, it just flickered a little,” I replied.

“Jerk!” Karen shot back.

That week with no power was a hot, uncomfortable time for my parents, so they decided to make some more preparations. They’re not waiting for a nuclear war or anything like that. They just want to be OK for a week or two.

I’ve been storing some extra water and food in case we have a big snowstorm or any other debacle that knocks out electricity and makes travel difficult. I even have some heat packs — those hand warmer things you can buy — to help keep my pets warm.

Those preparations are minuscule compared to the ones being taken by people dubbed “preppers.” Some television shows visit families and individuals getting ready for “the big one.” It seems that there is a variety of “big ones.” Some people are preparing for the classic doomsday scenario — a nuclear war.

A nuclear war is the disaster that heralded the fall of humans and the rise of the apes in the classic movie “Planet of the Apes” with Roddy McDowall and Charlton Heston. In the new apes movie, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” the disaster that levels civilization is a global pandemic. I guess the franchise needed a disaster update.

Many preppers have their favorite disaster. One guy was preparing for a super volcano to start erupting in Yellowstone National Park. In another show, a family left Florida and moved to Tennessee so they could escape being flooded when the Earth’s magnetic poles shifted. Other preppers get ready for bird flu pandemics, the collapse of the world’s economy, solar flares knocking out all electronics, a declaration of marital law, etc. My own favorite disaster is none of the above.

I have to admit that prepper activities are interesting. One fellow actually bought a 1950s missile silo and turned it into a bunker. That idea came back to me last week when we were talking about what we would buy if we won that multi-million dollar Powerball jackpot. Well, I said I would buy a missile silo. I just think it would be cool to own one and turn it into a weekend home. Editor Samantha Perry thought my plan was yet another manifestation of my dark self. Copy Editor Andy Patton said I’d have enough money to buy my own nuclear missile, too; cool idea, but it would take up too much room. But then again, a cruise missile would be smaller, so I could still wedge in a hot tub somewhere.

My dream bunker would be an old Russian Typhoon-class submarine. Those missile boats are gigantic, and a lot of them stopped sailing when the old Soviet Union folded up. I’ve seen photos showing lines of them tied up in port. I’d buy one, take out the missile silos, and open up lots of room for suites, cargo, a theater, and a gym with a basketball court. Now that would be a yacht worthy of a James Bond movie.

These fantasies are fine, but I hope all of these doomsday scenarios turn out to be fantasies, too. I know people keep saying the human race is in trouble and the end is near, but can anyone name a time in human history when we haven’t been in trouble? We have had global wars, pandemics, famines, volcanic eruptions and major earthquakes to name only a few disasters. It’s just easier to hear about them now in this world of the Internet and a 24-hour news cycle.

I know that it’s easy to worry about impending doom; so if doing some preparations helps to ease anxiety, go right ahead. I plan to be prepared for snow storms and power outages, but I’m not going to let those preparations take over my life. There is more to life than preparing for the worst. I know some people find end of the world scenarios exciting, but I would like to see that excitement stay in movies like “2012.”

Greg Jordan is the Daily Telegraph’s senior reporter. Contact him at gjordan@bdtonline.com.

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