Revealingly, however, many doomsday preppers’ fears are not based on speculative, sci-fi-style catastrophes but on disasters that have already happened. “Watch a documentary about Katrina. Look at something about Sandy, years afterwards. Look at Puerto Rico right now,” Scott Bounds, a member of N.Y.C. Preppers, says. “You have to realize that people are not going to come take care of you. You really have to be able to take care of yourself.”

Mary lives on what I would call a family compound, with 4 generations represented. Half of the food they consume is from produce and animals they have on their property, and they keep stores of preserved food along with other supplies in the basements or storm cellars of the five homes on their eighty-plus acres. Mary is mostly concerned about weathering some kind of general social collapse, whether economic or racial in nature. “I’m mostly just worried that things were just too good for too long,” she says. “We live in the best country in the world. Everywhere else you look, there are wars happening where they live or right next door. But we have it great here, and now it just feels like we’re getting ready to come apart at the seams.”


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