The Skeptic’s Survival Guide: My Dream Bunker
Our resident skeptic is back with another lesson in 2012 preparedness. If you missed the first part, you might want to check that out before continuing.
Yeah, we’re underground, but we’d never know it. Here’s how I picture it:
When you first enter my dream bunker, you’ll be greeted by the gentle odor of vanilla scented candles. There are Xmas lights and candles everywhere, and maybe one of those glow-in-the-dark velour heavy metal posters with a barbarian lady dominating a dragon. We keep it mellow post-civilization. There is a small yet serviceable kitchen, stocked with enough canned goods and bacon to last my group of six survivors at least 10 years. We’re not going to eat each other, that’s for sure. There’s a sizable common area with couches and leather recliners, a big screen TV, and my massive DVD collection. And an Xbox. There’s an exercise bike in the corner that one of my slaves cohabitants uses to power our generator. There is a toilet that recycles pee into water, even though I strictly drink Evian from the bottled stash. Our sleeping pods are spacious. I have a hammock, so I can really stretch my shit out.
Life is good.
In about three year’s time, after the world is engulfed in flames, I’m hoping to make that dream of mine a reality. Apparently, I’m not the only one.
“Most of the potential clients that I speak with are concerned about 2012,” George Welhaf Jr tells me. “I do not think that it is their only concern but it certainly seems to be a contributing factor in their quest to protect their families.”
Mr. Welhaf is the President of Green Eye Technology, a Pennsylvania-based company that “specializes in unique, cutting-edge construction systems, with a major focus on the construction and installation of buildings and systems that support the continuing survival of our planet and its inhabitants.” That’s from their website. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Before contacting Welhaf about the construction of my bunker, I had to suss out all the details. We’re talking about surviving a potential asteroid strike or nuclear holocaust here, it’s best not to go in half-cocked. With that in mind, I returned to Robert Bast’s 2012-knowledge-emporium – survive2012.com – to see what my friend had stored away on bunkers.
Luckily, Bast had an entire sub-forum dedicated to bunker building. Included there were Bast’s own recommendations on how to pick out the perfect spot. It has obviously occurred to me that my landlord here in Brooklyn likely wouldn’t be too keen on me digging a shelter beneath his home, so I had a lot to consider when choosing where I wanted to wait out the apocalypse. Some of Bast’s criteria:
Not Near a Large Population >250,000 people: More people = more potential scavengers, scofflaws, and road gangs out to steal my resources, commandeer my bunker, and rape my womenfolk. Obviously, this means I’d have to leave behind my cushy, bourgeois existence in the city. New York is dangerous enough already – have you ever seen The Warriors? Setting up shop here would be ill-advised, even in my liberal Park Slope neighborhood where like 70% of the population are vegans. Sure, vegans now, but after the shit hits the fan all these pushy parents will be taking to the streets, setting stroller bombs as traps, and trying to eat me.
In a Modern Western Civilization, Close to your Current Home, Nice Weather: Bast asserts that the closer your current home is to where you want to erect your bunker, the more likely you are to actually pull the trigger on building the sucker. He’s right, but I had originally thought a good spot for me would be somewhere in the Midwest. Lots of clear open country there and plenty of nice, unassuming Midwestern folk that I could swindle for extra batteries and gasoline. Still, there’s no way I’m commuting to Indiana to supervise my bunker’s building, and it’s also too great a distance to travel once the poles reverse and it’s time to bug out. I decide to stay in New York, but head upstate.
No Volcanoes or Calderas (active or dormant) within 200 miles, No Earthquakes (in modern history), No War Nearby (use own judgment): Bast was careful to cover every apocalyptic possibility when creating his bunker checklist. I feel like my selection of upstate New York is a pretty safe one. There are no volcanoes around and, according to a quick Google search, there hasn’t been a major earthquake in New York since 1944. Also, no war! At least not yet.
Unfortunately, my selection of upstate New York does fail one of Bast’s major tests.
No Nukes (no nuclear power plants or missiles or dumps) within 200 miles: Holy meltdown, there’s a lot of nuclear stuff going on in New York! Check out the map. Each one of those red dots is a pulsing beacon of nuclear activity. And that’s just the stuff we know about. I can’t even account for where the government might be hiding secret missile depots aimed at Canada. Regardless, all the talk these days is about how safe nuclear power is becoming and, really, isn’t a Chernobyl repeat the least of our worries? No one even died at Chernobyl! Ok, like 30 people, but big deal. Frankly, I’m willing to take my chances with a little radiation. If the nuclear plants decide to go mushroom cloud when the global upheaval goes down, that’s exactly what I bought the shelter for. I better get my money’s worth.
A tract of unmolested land in the upstate region I’m eyeing will run me about $50,000. Already, we’re way over my $3,000 budget.
This is where George Welhaf Jr. comes in. I feel a little intimidated to be receiving direct correspondence from the President of Green Eye Technology, but he patiently answers my basic questions about shelter needs.
Welhaf Jr. tells me:
“Our shelters are generally set up to allow for a one year stay, although, recently, clients are requesting shelter set ups that allow for 5 year stays without surfacing. The smallest shelter we sell will protect up to 10 people for 1 year. Of course, the [fewer] people, the more comfort per person. This smallest unit, including shipping, installation, and supplies for one year would cost approximately $225,000.00. This is a ballpark figure and there are unknowns such as installation location, site accessibility, soil content, etc., that could affect the cost.”
Factoring in a modest $25,000 for possible snags during construction, my shelter cost has suddenly ballooned to an overwhelming $300,000. I ask Welhaf Jr. if they offer payment plans.
They do not.
And yet, despite that disturbingly high figure, it seems like business is going well for Green Eye. The obnoxious journalist in me asks Welhaf Jr. the following:
“I think it should be clear that I'm approaching this from a skeptic's stance. I don't think that anything is going to happen in 2012. As a business, I would think it'd be sort of difficult to balance this. On one hand, there are certainly people who have a legitimate need for home defense. On the other hand, I think there must be some people who are spending massive amounts of money to prepare for a doomsday that isn't going to happen. How do you guys handle that? Is there any instance where you have to say "whoa, listen, if you're buying this shelter because an ancient culture thought a meteor might destroy us, you might want to consider holding on to that 200K for your kids' college fund". Where do you guys draw the line between installing shelters for those with an actual need and those who might be misinformed and later regret the purchase?”
It’s been a month and Welhaf Jr. hasn’t responded. I guess the disaster business must be booming.
With a $300,000 price tag my dream of the perfect bunker seems to be slipping away. I just don’t have that kind of scratch lying around. But, as Radius and Green Eye both like to advertise on their websites, The Future Belongs To Those Who Plan. I am resourceful. I’ve been living in the city for almost 3 years. I know exactly where to take this kind of problem.
“Are you as worried about the upcoming apocalypse as I am?
Time is running short and preparation is imperative. I am building a 6 person bunker in upstate New York and am looking to find other individuals who value the continued existence of the human race to share the cost burden. I have my eye on a secluded tract of land in upstate New York where I will be installing an E10 Survival Shelter from Green Eye Technologies. The total cost of the project is $300,000, split 6 ways, that comes out to a tidy $50,000/survivor, not including supplies (we will discuss those later).
The E10 shelter includes the fiberglass ellipsoid structure, fiberglass entranceway with stairwell, fiberglass/composite hatch, MCAS-40 air filter, 125 gallon fiberglass septic tank, 600 gallon internal water tank, fiberglass floor, fiberglass counter, fiberglass shower wall, fiberglass battery housing, toilet, floor, eighteen 12- volt deep cycle batteries, gray water tank, all wiring, all plumbing, etc.
I am focusing my search for roommates in the tri-state area as I would like people willing to help supervise the building of the shelter and take a hands-on role in our planning.
I will be conducting interviews for prospective candidates over the next month and hope to begin construction in early 2010.
Only serious applicants, please.”
So far, no responses. If this keeps up, I might have to join one of those road gangs that are always scavenging our post-apocalyptic landscapes. It won’t be my dream shelter, but at least I’ll get to wear a sweet leather vest.
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