Doomsday preppers may have been on to something: Those who built nuclear shelters are now using them to ride out the coronavirus pandemic

Doomsday preppers may have been on to something: Those who built nuclear shelters are now using them to ride out the coronavirus pandemic
underground bunker

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Doomsday preppers are turning to their underground bunkers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Doomsday preppers are bunkering down during the coronavirus pandemic.

R.T. Walson for The Wall Street Journal spoke to several survivalists who have finally found a use for the worst-case scenarios bunkers they previously bought, now that the coronavirus is rapidly spreading across America.

"If we're out and about and we got it, we'd end up being fine, but I don't want to be part of the problem and be out there as a carrier and spreading it," a doomsday prepper named Joe, who has been hiding out in his $240,000 with his family of four, told Walson.


Several bunker contractors told Walson they've seen an uptick in spending on doomsday shelters since the coronavirus became a pandemic. However, one said that the pandemic hasn't affected sales, as it's an expensive purchase for something that takes months to plan and won't be delivered right away.

Drew Miller, founder of Fortitude Ranch - doomsday compounds in West Virginia and Colorado that double as a recreational facility and survival retreat - told Business Insider's Mary Meisenzahl that panic around the coronavirus has led to a "huge surge in interest" in the business' offerings.

He said the company has sold out its Colorado location, which has about 100 members, and is nearly selling out its West Virginia location, which has about 60 members.

"Most of our members are not traditional preppers, but business professionals, retired military, and law enforcement, people who recognize the need to get out of the city and suburbs" when things get bad, Miller told Business Insider. "It is really the 'collapse,' the halt in economic activity and loss of law and order that is the biggest threat," and members don't want to be left managing on their own.

Doomsday bunkers can cost millions

Doomsday bunkers have grown in popularity over recent years as people have come to fear climate change, a possible technological overthrow of society, and the potential of global nuclear warfare, reported Business Insider's Aria Bendix.


Bunker design companies have been popping up to accommodate these worst-case scenario demands, but these underground dwellings don't always come cheap. xPoint, in South Dakota, has bunkers that start at $35,000, but residents still need to pay $1,000 in annual rent, according to Bendix. But others, like the Survival Condo Project in Kansas, cater exclusively to the superrich. Here, she said, half-units are listed for $1.5 million and units are listed at $3 million.

Some luxury bunkers offer amenities like movie theaters, swimming pools, and rock walls. But most doomsday shelters, regardless of how luxurious they are, typically include a few key features, Bendix wrote: blast-proof doors, an array of freeze-dried food, and medical supplies.

Society often views survivalists as a tad extreme. "I don't think we're that much different from anybody else," longtime doomsday prepper Tom, who is using a bunker he purchased three years ago to escape the pandemic, told Walson. "People used to consider preppers to be this odd, crazy bunch of people. Now a lot of the people that were ambivalent about my prepping, those people are incredibly interested in what I do now."

Doomsday preppers are certainly well-prepared for an apocalypse: fitting in the midst of a pandemic that has been called "apocalyptic" by everyone from NYC hospital doctors to local politicians.

Do you have a personal experience with the coronavirus you'd like to share? Or a tip on how your town or community is handling the pandemic? Please email and tell us your story.


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