With post-apocalyptic shows like "The Walking Dead" and "Revolution" all the rage these days, it should come as no surprise that one of National Geographic Channel's most popular reality shows is "Doomsday Preppers." After all, it's hard not to imagine how you would fare without electricity, plumbing and -- gasp -- cell phones while watching your favorite characters struggle to survive each week. Plus, there's that pesky Mayan prediction thing about the world ending on December 21, 2012 hanging over our heads.
"Doomsday Preppers," about to start its second season, spotlights how ordinary folks are gearing up for the end of the world as we know it. While many of their efforts may seem impressive and quite thorough to those of us who aren't preparing, the expert assessments in each episode reveal weaknesses in even the most meticulous plans.
HuffPost TV caught up with Canadian reconstructionist Bruce Beach, 78, who is featured on the show. We chatted about everything from his extensive bunker to being called crazy to his advice to those who aren't preparing.
I understand that you're a prepper ... what type of disaster are you preparing for?
Now that is a misconception. I always tell people that I'm not a prepper. I'm a reconstructionist. I'm not worried about getting ready for the end, I'm worried about rebuilding afterwards.
So what type of situation are you preparing to rebuild after?
People are always complaining that I'm a one-string instrument and I expect there to be a nuclear World War III.
Why do you think this might happen in the near future?
The people who really study this, like the atomic scientists, say we're at the most dangerous time that we've ever been in for the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons because of the proliferation that there's been.
Whereabouts do you live?
Horning's Mills is in southern Ontario about 90 miles northwest of Toronto. We live here in this village. My wife was born in this village and her mother was born in this village two centuries ago.
How long have you been preparing to reconstruct?
I started out as a prepper! [Laughs] I've been doing that for over 50 years. You have asked me a question that I've never put a time frame on. That could have been as late as the mid-1990s.
What prompted your transition?
The first stage most preppers go through is they develop what they call a BOB -- a Bug-Out Bag. If something happens, they're going to grab their bag and run. I was in Chicago many years ago when I had a Bug-Out Bag and a couple of small children and realized that even if we left, we wouldn't be able to walk out of Chicago. So one goes to a second stage where they realize what they need is a BOL -- a Bug-Out Location. We visited various mines and caves and things like that. Eventually you realize you need to be out of the city and to a locality where you're going to be able to restore agriculture and there are people around you that you know. And eventually then you realize, well, the problem is going to be afterwards. You've got to think about the future of society.
I understand you have a bunker made of school buses?
There are 42 buried school buses. They're covered with concrete. There are videos showing the construction.
Why school buses, and how did you get so many of them?
School buses are built to a particular structural specification established by the federal government. They're very strong and so they are a permanent form for the concrete. As far as getting them, once the tow truck company started calling us, they would just say, "Oh, I've got another two or three school buses here, would you like to have them?" and they would bring them to us. The buses were taken to a wrecking yard where the windows and seats and the front end of the bus with the engine were all cut out, and the gas tank was removed, and just the shell was brought to us.
What does your family think about all this?
Depends on which members of the family. Some of my children and grandchildren are very supportive, and others that have lived with it their whole lives are very much opposed and embarrassed by it.
Do people ever treat you like you're crazy?
Oh, for the most part. I'm always accused of that sort of thing. I was in a number of court battles and court cases about this. I went down and had myself tested and analyzed, and the report written up said there was no pathology there. [Laughs] I took this to court and presented it and said now I'd like to see a similar document from the rest of you! [Laughs]
Is it rewarding to see a show like "Doomsday Preppers" and see others are also preparing?
There's a lot of interest in the show. Most people who watch it watch it from the perspective of, "Look at those crazy people!" The people who produce the show produce it from that point of view as well. They're in New York. They just think these people are nuts who do this sort of things. We had quite a falling out just recently about this, because they wanted to shoot some of our other sites. We lined them up and said yes, we would participate. I said we also want you to interview this set number of people. We gave them a list of 20 people who all had MDs or PhDs, very substantial individuals, who agreed to be interviewed. And we have these locations where you can film from the road or the air of the bunkers of the Walton family and Bill Gates. They wouldn't interview our people because these are not 'crazy' people, they're very prestigious, because this is not their thing, they're doing the crazy prepper thing. So we aborted, and they were very, very upset with me.
I said, "Well, that's OK, but we just don't want it made a thing of ridicule." Many very wealthy people have these facilities. But the fellow was so upset with me. He just chewed me out left and right for 30 minutes. Later on, people I told about this said that just shows how little respect they have for you, because they would never talk to the Waltons or the Gates in that manner. You say is it rewarding that so many are [preparing], but still they aren't. People don't prep for things like Sandy or anything else. They rely on the government. There's no self-reliance.
What's the biggest advice you have for people who aren't preparing?
That's the first time I've been asked that question! If you aren't preparing here, make sure you're prepared with the Lord! [Laughs]
Season 2 of "Doomsday Preppers" premieres on December 4 at 10 p.m. EST on National Geographic Channel.
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