An argument can be made that even in an emergency, potable water is never too far away; after all, most human settlements have been erected near natural reservoirs: rivers, lakes, or easily reached underground aquifers. But this is an oversimplification. In rural areas, water supply can be fairly meager and vulnerable to weather fluctuations and other cyclic phenomena. For cities, it is true that many of them are seated on the banks of major lakes or rivers, but suburban sprawl can easily put some residents 10-20 miles away from the nearest reservoir; on top of that, some of the 20th century settlements in semi-arid and desert climates rely on water hauled from tens or hundreds of miles away.
What else? Ah, right: the final piece of advice I have is to keep things uncomplicated. There are popular doomsday predictions that deal with cutting-edge particle physics, god-like computer hackers, vast government conspiracies, or extraterrestrial messages hidden in pop songs. I suppose we can't really rule that stuff out, but historical data suggests that there's a lot more merit in worrying about falling off a ladder or getting hit by a car.
Hall, in his late fifties, is barrel-chested and talkative. He studied business and computers at the Florida Institute of Technology and went on to specialize in networks and data centers for Northrop Grumman, Harris Corporation, and other defense contractors. He now goes back and forth between the Kansas silo and a home in the Denver suburbs, where his wife, a paralegal, lives with their twelve-year-old son.
Tim Ralston — A survival tool manufacturer (the Crovel), loses part of a thumb during firearms practice for the show; Jason Charles, a New York City fireman-turned-prepper, demonstrates urban survival skills; Jules Dervaes is preparing for the collapse of the industrial food system; Pat Brabble insists on surviving hyperinflation by planning ahead.
These days, when North Korea tests a bomb, Hall can expect an uptick of phone inquiries about space in the Survival Condo Project. But he points to a deeper source of demand. “Seventy per cent of the country doesn’t like the direction that things are going,” he said. After dinner, Hall and Menosky gave me a tour. The complex is a tall cylinder that resembles a corncob. Some levels are dedicated to private apartments and others offer shared amenities: a seventy-five-foot-long pool, a rock-climbing wall, an Astro-Turf “pet park,” a classroom with a line of Mac desktops, a gym, a movie theatre, and a library. It felt compact but not claustrophobic. We visited an armory packed with guns and ammo in case of an attack by non-members, and then a bare-walled room with a toilet. “We can lock people up and give them an adult time-out,” he said. In general, the rules are set by a condo association, which can vote to amend them. During a crisis, a “life-or-death situation,” Hall said, each adult would be required to work for four hours a day, and would not be allowed to leave without permission. “There’s controlled access in and out, and it’s governed by the board,” he said.
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