When it's your turn, you speak into the intercom, asking to withdraw your balance. The teller informs you that the bank has placed a $5,000-per-day limit on withdrawals. They're trying to keep some cash on hand despite its plummeting value. The teller offers you a high-interest loan instead. You drive off, angry. Most people with bank accounts are angry.

Prepping, by now, looks like it would have been a good idea. You think to buy something tangible to halt the dissolution of your money. Water, food, mail-order gold while it's still available. As everyone around the country trades in money for things, prices go up and inflation quickens. Global markets are thrown into panic. The United States dollar is no longer the backbone of the world economy. Migrant agricultural workers stop coming across the border. Farmers stockpile their harvests. Factories stop producing. Businesses that still have goods to sell stop accepting the dollar in favor of other currencies, and its value plummets further.

Companies that remain open have to pay employees daily, because nobody will wait for a paycheck that's declined in value. This spurs more layoffs. Fewer people working means fewer people paying taxes. Emergency medical, police, and fire departments have to cut back, consolidating their services and selling off vehicles. Local governments go into crisis mode, hiring a single overworked manager and laying off their officials. Calls for help take longer to be answered. Fires burn hotter. Neighbors are focused on their own self-preservation.

Chris Petrovich has been a prepper for 25 years.
Jayme Gershen
Chris Petrovich has been a prepper for 25 years.
Neal Wiseman has enough food to sustain his family for a year.
Jayme Gershen
Neal Wiseman has enough food to sustain his family for a year.

Then, sensing weakness, emboldened by international economic troubles, an enemy decides to strike. During a series of routine rolling blackouts triggered by high energy costs, a foreign government launches a series of nuclear missiles from container ships into the atmosphere above middle America. By the time the electromagnetic pulses of harmful gamma waves make it to our homes and offices, we have only the faintest clue that something's wrong. Then the radiation knocks out the power grid, communications wires, and every unshielded silicon chip from Nova Scotia to northern Mexico.

And then it's dark.

The first scrounging will be like that of mice in the night: distant, annoying, but nonthreatening. News of looters will spread by word of mouth; gunshots may ring out down the street. Families, even the least prepared, will stay close and take cover.

Bowreeguard will tuck a gun in his waistband and tiptoe down to the swimming pool. Wiseman will navigate by Maglite the garage he's committed to memory and cross the Intracoastal to raise the drawbridge, if state transportation officials haven't yet managed to take control of the bridge as planned. Joe and Amy sit in their fruit- and tilapia-filled pool room looking for signs of commotion from across the lagoon.


"If I really thought the end was right here, I wouldn't be here right now," says Petrovich, the prepping evangelist, as we sit on a porch next to the swimming pool at his house in Hollywood. He's just finished outlining the above scenario for me as we drink cold beers and eat rice and beans with gumbo. It's Mardi Gras evening, and he's having some friends and family over. We're sated by the good meal, talking quietly as the light leaves the sky. His mother stands in the doorway, watching as children run and laugh and circle the pool on a bicycle.

Petrovich has a sense of humor about his fire-and-brimstone scenarios. "If there is a zombie invasion, I hope it's the slow ones," he says, refusing to crack a full smile. His favorite TV show is The Walking Dead. He quotes Dr. Strangelove and has a robust library of mass-market paperbacks.

For him, as for most preppers, the thrill is in making oneself stronger. "A lot of people just sit there in place and die in place," he says. "Prepping will give you confidence. Besides, look at all the great things I've learned."

If a collapse should really happen here, Petrovich (who says he's been prepping for 25 years) will call the network of fellow preppers he trusts with his life and family. Then he'll go to the secret location where he keeps food, weapons, and gas masks.

State authorities will activate the Florida Interoperability Network, a coordinated system of state and local radio frequencies that can broadcast signals once the traditional equipment goes down. Local governments will use "several caches of portable radio equipment in various locations throughout the state," according to an official emergency plan, and fire up eight trailers with 100-foot antennas, generators, and broadcasting gear. Volunteers with the Amateur Radio Emergency Service will get on their ham radios and tap into a government-sanctioned plan for disseminating information.

What happens over the following weeks will look familiar to Petrovich, who has seen glimpses of humans in crisis during his travels.

In Durban, South Africa, 1997, he saw a riot of angry Zulu rebels coming down the street, brandishing short spears and clubs. One man slit another man's throat. Six or seven police officers started shooting randomly into the crowd.

Sierra Leone, 1998. The local police and military were stealing food from aid deliveries, and refugees scrambled viciously for sustenance. Petrovich realized what people look like when they're truly hungry.

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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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