Outside the store, I find Chris Petrovich, a 42-year-old Peruvian-American man who wears a rosary underneath his usual tropical shirt. If Wiseman is the social coordinator for the preppers, Petrovich is their diplomat.

His inspiration comes not from a single disaster but from the accretion of scenes that most people in South Florida can spend their lives ignoring. He traveled through the world's poorest countries as a young man working for his father's agricultural consulting firm. The rainbow of stamps in his canceled passport hold horror stories. He doesn't want to go into details, not at first.

Petrovich is also vague when describing his day job. He does business with developing nations from a nondescript office in Hollywood. On the side, he also teaches daylong basic survival classes for a small fee, advertising through the Meetup site. Students often come to him nervous and overwhelmed, Petrovich says. He tells them two things: "Anyone can prepare, and it's not too late." It's like joining a church.

He is intent on showing me that many preppers these days defy the white-male stereotypes and that women in charge of their families' finances are the fastest-growing part of the group. He introduces me to Amy, a wide-eyed National Rifle Association member who recently moved here from California and learned about prepping from friends in the hunting and firearms community. I meet Zee, an African-American police officer in Miami who says she was inspired to prep by the mayhem she sees every day on the poorest streets of South Florida. They're both friendly over burgers and beer but guarded about the preparations they've made. Neither will return my calls later.

I meet a man in his 50s, probably, with longish gray hair, a sizable belly, and camouflage pants. He gives his name only as "Bowreeguard" and tells me that preparation was a fact of life for his family during winters in live-free-or-die New Hampshire.

Bowreeguard worked in the explosives industry there, and he and his friends were a hard-working, gun-toting bunch. In the '90s — when "survivalists" had been tarnished in the media by characters like Timothy McVeigh, David Koresh, and the Unabomber — they took some bulldozers out to the deep country and excavated a "fire base" where they buried four school buses to form a semi-underground bunker. Or so Bowreeguard says: He won't tell where the compound is, and he doesn't have photographs.

They got a friend to drill a well in the middle of the bunker. They piled up food, communications lines, many gallons of water. And on the evening of December 31, 1999, Bowreeguard and dozens of his cohorts gathered for the end. If not fireballs, they expected at least a total breakdown in communications because of the alleged Y2K computer bug. They expected ensuing looting for food and a glimpse of society unhinged.

The clocks flipped placidly to 12:00, then 12:01. The only explosions on the news were fireworks. "When it was over and nothing happened, we were so disappointed," admits Bowreeguard. "The next day, we all went back to work."

Bowreeguard says he moved to Florida to work in the transportation industry ten days after the 9/11 attacks. He's been making bulk trips to Costco and wheeling a grocery cart up to his condominium under cover of darkness. He says he has enough food to last him and his adult son for months, as well as a carefully curated selection of firearms. For drinking water, he keeps an eye on the swimming pool.

"When people ask me why I prepare, I tell them it's because I'm waiting for the zombies," explains Bowreeguard. "Then they laugh it off and don't look at you like you're such a nutfreak." When he gets in conversations with people about other possibilities — the total anarchy that could result from a financial breakdown or a nuclear attack by China or North Korea — he tends to make people angry or terrified. Zombies, it turns out, are easier to contemplate.


A clammy-looking severed pig's foot sits on a paper plate. A cheerful male voice pipes in: "Hello, prepper nation. This is Dr. Bones, a medical doctor and surgeon for over 25 years, and together with the lovely Nurse Amy, we host the Doom and Bloom Show." The doctor's hand, filling out a yellowish latex glove, floats into the frame of the YouTube video. The fingers palpate the foot, which compresses like human flesh.

The doctor drapes a sheet of paper over the foot, revealing a single circle of skin. Soon he makes a slice with a number-ten blade. There is no blood, and he pulls the skin apart to reveal the tendon beneath. He injects the wound with lidocaine, soaking and swelling it. He opens a package of 2-0 silk suture thread, connected to a needle. He uses forceps to lift a flap of skin and drives the suture through.

Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy, a married couple, are two local preppers and teachers with a national reach through their internet radio show, their books, a seminar they cohost, and the YouTube channel (drbonespodcast). As he says in the video, they weren't always preppers: Dr. Bones, who is 58, worked under another name as an obstetrician, delivering hundreds of babies into the cruel world through modern medicine. Amy, his wife, stood by him as a nurse and midwife through much of his practice.

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8 comments
KennyPowersII
KennyPowersII

Homeland Security  just placed an order for 450 million rounds of .40 caliber ammo, for domestic distribution to various and sundry law enforcement agencies. War baby. WTF?

Chris J Petrovich
Chris J Petrovich

We welcome one and all to join us on our  southfloridapreppers meetup group or find me on my facebook and linkedin pages  or  on  survivalistnow    To clarify, it wasn't Zulu Rebels, it was IFP Zulu Nationalists demostrating against Mandela's ruling ANC Party, and it wasn't a slit throat, it was a burning tire on the poor guy's head. They also omitted my best experiences from Angola, Liberia, Mozambique, Zambia, and Uganda watching the bodies wash up on shore from Rwanda.....while America's President in 1994 ignored it, because it was an election year. 1 million people in 100 days. Also, I am a plain Non-Hyphenated American........

Chris J Petrovich
Chris J Petrovich

We welcome one and all to join us.   To clarify, it wasn't Zulu Rebels, it was IFP Zulu Nationalists demonstrating against Mandela's ruling ANC Party, and it wasn't a slit throat, it was a burning tire on the poor guy's head. They also omitted my best experiences from Angola, Liberia, Mozambique, Zambia, and Uganda watching the bodies wash up on shore from Rwanda.....while the US President in 1994 actively suppresed coverage , because it was an election year. 1 million people in 100 days. Also, I am a plain Non-Hyphenated American........

Chris J Petrovich
Chris J Petrovich

We welcome one and all to join us on our  southfloridapreppers meetup group or find me on my facebook and linkedin pages  or  on  survivalistnow   To clarify, it wasn't Zulu Rebels, it was IFP Zulu Nationalists demostrating against Mandela's ruling ANC Party, and it wasn't a slit throat, it was a burning tire on the poor guy's head. They also omitted my best experiences from Angola, Liberia, Mozambique, Zambia, and Uganda watching the bodies wash up on shore from Rwanda.....while America's first Black President Bill Clinton ignored it, because it was an election year. 1 million people in 100 days.Also, I am a plain Non-Hyphenated American........

FQS9000
FQS9000

The alternative to these guys are the Democraps who think that you can spend money you don't have forever.  Neither one is likely to be correct.

AnotherSoFloPrepper
AnotherSoFloPrepper

Allegedly, they need it for practice.  However, it may that a lot of us will be getting two to the chest and one to the head. 

Steven g.
Steven g.

Not gonna defend the prepped , we saw civil collapse in he wake of hurricane Katrina... Just 1 example of a million that could happen... Question is when. For our families sake , we cannot pretend that everything is in crystal clear color... When over all we only control ourselves and not our external world and the forces that work within it. I don't think having a backup plans a bad idea.

 
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