Fueled by devastating news headlines that range from nuclear disasters to the failing economy, shooting sprees, suicide bombers and/or horrific weather, a growing group of Americans are taking their worst fears and are planning for it.
They are known as preppers, and they are preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best. Discovery Channel casts light on their world by exploring the advanced and secretive underground bunkers they are installing in Doomsday Bunkers.
The three-episode series premieres tonight (March 7) at 10pm ET/PT and will air March 14 and 21. The series follows Scott Bales, owner of Deep Earth Bunker, and his team of engineers and craftsmen as they give viewers a rare look at the multi-layered survival strategies they use to build “the most invulnerable and comfortable hidden residences in the country.” His company’s goal is to keep clients safe from physical, social, financial, political, psychological and emotional harm.
“It not only looks at a very timely movement or subculture — the prepper movement — but it also presents an opportunity to really explore science and design because it’s very much about the bunker building,” says executive producer Anna Geddes.
Each episode of Doomsday Bunkers follows Bales as he works with his clients in identifying their bunker needs, as well as designing, building, testing and installing the bunker. Testing a bunker to see if it can withstand a disaster is equally as fascinating as the people purchasing it. Bunkers are tested using a variety of methods including firing canons at it, dropping or catapulting vehicles on top of it (as would an explosion or tornado), plus a battery of other attacks that include firearms and fire.
The bunkers range in size and features and can be as simple as a storm shelter that provides space and air, to elaborate bunker systems that protect against nuclear, biological and chemical disasters that include massive water storage tanks, security systems, gun vaults and more. Some of the bunkers go beyond safety, in fact, some of these underground cribs are more elaborate than an average home with granite counter tops, custom floors and luxurious bathrooms. And these aren’t cheap either.
“No! These are quite big investments – they’re like small homes underground. They can range anywhere from $50,000 to $450,000 and even more – if someone has a really wild idea,” Geddes says.
When you google bunkers for sale the price range is even higher, from an 8,800 square foot “nuclear hardened” underground structure for $750,000 in Russell, Kansas, to a home and silo in upstate New York, which is part of an exclusive airport subdivision that’s listed for $800,000.
In the end it’s all about building the ultimate safety zone and satisfying the preppers’ growing demands.
When factoring in all the news headlines, natural disasters and economic issues going on right now, Geddes says she sees how people are becoming more interested in the prepper movement.
“I think all of those things make people open to the ideas of the prepper movement,” Geddes says. “When you really listen to what they are trying to say there’s a lot of logic involved. It can be quite convincing.”
Geddes can relate too, telling us she was living in New York during 9/11 where she realized the importance of having something like a three-day emergency pack witnessing empty grocery store shelves firsthand. “It’s smart to a degree to be prepared, some people just take it to a more extreme level,” she says. “Today’s society is high tech — we’re not as self sufficient, we’re more reliant and dependent on our infrastructure and I think people are seeing this as a concern and want to be more self-sufficient.”
DOOMSDAY BUNKERS airs March 7, 14 & 21 at 10pm ET/PT on Discovery Channel