Sunday, October 30, 2022

Am I the only one who thinks this is misguided?

Some time ago, I came across an article entitled "Former Military Bunkers Are Home for Hundreds of Survival-Minded People."

It seems a development group called Vivos (which develops survival properties in various places around the world) has purchased a huge property containing 575 former military bunkers near the Black Hills of South Dakota. "The 7,000-acre development sits on the former Black Hills Army Base, built in 1942 by the Army Corps of Engineers to store bombs and other munitions during World War II," says the article. "The Army retired the base in 1967 and sold the property and all 575 bunkers to the city of Edgemont, which, in turn, sold it to local cattle ranchers."

The massive concrete structures are being turned into bunkers for survivalists.

There's certainly something to be said for these structures. The location is geographically isolated and seismically stable. The bunkers themselves are spacious (2,200 square feet) and the thick concrete walls are constructed to withstand both internal and external blasts, such as that of a nuclear bomb. Each unit can be custom outfitted in luxury, with the primary disadvantage being the lack of natural light.

According to the website, "Each bunker provides enough floor area, with attic potential, to comfortably accommodate 10 to 24 people and their needed supplies, for a year or more, of autonomous shelterization without needing to emerge outside."

These bunkers are made to last. "Each bunker includes a massive existing concrete and steel blast door, that seals to stop any water, air or gas permeation; air and exhaust ventilation shafts, and a secondary emergency exit. ... This elliptical shape mitigates a surface blast wave, as well as radioactive fallout due to the thickness of the overburden of soil and concrete."

I got curious about this development and did a little research. I've come to the conclusion the whole project is, well, stupid. Well, maybe not stupid so much as misguided.

Why? Because as I see it, literally the only advantages of these bunkers is their ability to withstand the types of explosions and blasts for which they were constructed. But as prepper shelters, they have less appeal – unless, literally, your only concern about the future is nuclear warfare (which, to be fair, is a legitimate concern considering the situation in Europe).

There are, in my opinion, a number of strikes against these bunkers:

• Customers pay a lot, but not for ownership. According to the article, "It costs $45,000 to purchase a 99-year lease for each bunker and about $150,000 to $200,000 to convert it to living quarters." The website clarifies, "There is a one-time upfront payment of $45,000, plus an ongoing annual ground rent of $1,091 per bunker. Bunkers are provided in their as-is condition, without interior improvements, equipment or furnishings, ready for your outfitting." That's a lot of money for an unfinished rental.

• Alternately, customers can pay $15,000 to secure a space in a shared bunker. These are "completely furnished, outfitted, stocked with 1 year of food and supplies, dishware, linens, fuel, water, and bedding, with a deluxe private bunk with keyed access. Perfect for singles, couples and small families to share with others."

• The facilities are still dependent on outside power sources (fuels for generators, etc.). According to the FAQs, "The entire bunker network is off grid, without power supply from the local utilities. Each bunker needs to install a diesel generator with 55-gallon drum fuel storage tanks for the primary ongoing power requirements." With the unfolding energy crisis on both the national and international stage, this strikes me as an enormous vulnerability.

• There is no private water source. According to the FAQs, "Vivos distributes water from our 4,200-foot-deep aquifer well up to a 250,000+/- gallon underground cistern located on a hill within the complex. Water is then gravity fed to each bunker. The initial water line hookup to each bunker is just $3,000. Thereafter, you may freely use as much water as you like, for inside shelterization purposes, at no extra charge, provided you are not wasting the water." However presumably it requires fuel to lift the water from a depth of 4,200 feet. What happens when the fuel runs out?

• Property "per bunker" is limited to 30 feet from the structure.  This limits the amount of space to build any structures such as barns or other livestock facilities – much less have grazing room for animals. Some customers have planted gardens on top of their bunkers, which is probably the very best location for a garden; but additional self-sufficiency options (such as room to house and graze cattle) are limited.

• The USDA Hardiness Zone is 4B, same as most of Alaska. This means gardening is challenging. The hardy people who already live in this region have years of experience in dealing with the climate and have a thorough understanding of what plants will grow and what won't. How long will it take newcomers to the area to acquire that same knowledge? More than one growing season, I suspect.

• Essentially these bunkers are like self-imposed prison cells. Someone could literally trap you inside by bulldozing a huge load of dirt or rocks in front of the bunker doors. Alternately, you could be forced out by Bad Guys cutting your water and/or power lines.

In short, it strikes me that these bunkers appeal mostly to the "Gee this is cool!" school of thinking, rather than the hard reality of what it takes to survive a bleep-hit-the-fan scenario ... unless, of course, the "bleep" is a nuclear holocaust.

And even then, these bunkers have a limited attraction (to me, at least) in the event of a nuclear war. Sure, they'll do a splendid job of protecting you for as long as you stay within their thick concrete walls. But what then?

Let's put it this way: If outside conditions are so dire that you must literally hole up for an entire year, then things will be positively apocalyptic when you finally emerge from your concrete cocoon. Let's say nuclear Armageddon happens and you've survived, thanks to the remarkable bunkers. A year has passed, and you emerge, blinking in the bleary sunshine, and realize you have no fuel for generators or water pumps. Presumably by then your food will be eaten up as well. What's your next step? Ordering something from Amazon?

If people who can afford these bunkers simply want the novelty of living inside a concrete shell, then what the heck, go for it. But they must recognize they are, in many ways, just as susceptible to societal disruptions of goods and services (notably fuel to power generators and well pumps) as anyone else.

Or am I the misguided one here? Am I missing something? Are these bunkers the best thing since sliced bread? What are your thoughts?


  1. Nuclear survival might be the best thing they have going for them right now . The threat is higher than it has been for 60+ years but I built my fallout shelter back in 2012 for under $500 . It doubles as a storm[tornado] and root cellar . Get some potassium iodide too . Homeschool supply stores usually have 100gram bottles for around twenty bucks . That around 769 130 mg doses to protect one adult each day of radiation exposure . Good luck . It appears from what I'm seeing tptb want a nuke war and they will surely get it . Putin didn't get to the top by being dumb or a punk .

  2. Sounds like a book plot. I will say that is beautiful country in the Black Hills. Brutal winters but beautiful in the Summer.

  3. I think you are absolutely correct in your observations. I have had some of these thoughts concerning underground bunkers. I would hate to share one with any person except for family. Even that might get uncomfortable depending on the dynamics. When you survive a nuclear attack and come out--what then?

  4. So, I wonder how many people have signed up?

  5. What happens if you can't pay the annual ground rent at the end of the year after a nuclear explosion. I know you have enough stuff to last one year but that's all you have to live in too. Do you get kicked out?

  6. MY very first thought was this: it's the most obvious target and probably among worst places to be in the event of a SHTF situation where the Powers That Be are looking for dissenters. Sure, you survive bombs, but what happens when that dust settles?

    If you are prepping, expecting the government to be a hostile entity and a threat to you at some point (which many preppers are doing) then this seems to be almost the opposite of what you'd want to do. I mean, I'm just a chubby little gramma, but if I were planning for SHTF I probably wouldn't want to hole up inside a facility the "enemy" had planned, designed, built and probably still surveils. Just my 2.

    1. You honestly think the government has nothing better to do than surveil this place? Oh please. Paranoia.

    2. hahahaha, Big Brother doesn't care enough to watch you.

    3. You should probably re-read the whole thing and my comment before you dig any further. Not sure you have it all in context. We are all referring to the people who have chosen to buy and live there.

    4. Your glow is showing, foolish Krab.

  7. A 'family friendly' website is pushing potassium oxide for 'only' $99 for a 3 month supply, and a friend of mine got quite worked up. "Should I buy it?, she asked. I pointed out that if they drop the Big One on New York, here in New England we would likely be toast, and would not live long enough to need over-priced anything.

    Trust in God. When your time is up, it's up.

  8. I agree with you. I'm on this Facebook group that is called stocking your shelves. Some of these people are crazy. They think closing all windows and doors will protect them from nuclear incident. One woman told her son she has a gun to barter with. Kid will open the door and die.

    1. New York City ran TV ads "how to survive a nuclear explosion"... ha! Stay inside, watch news for info~ Yes, some people are that stupid.

  9. Things to expect with over-fortified bunkers:

    1) The people in them paid a lot to be in them;
    2) They may have benefited from the status quo ante a lot more than others;
    3) That means they probably have a hand in the troubles that led to getting nuked;
    4) Hindsight may be 20/20, but a .30-30 in the hands of an angry nuked person is better;
    5) Lots of people may be in that situation and decide to camp outside the bunker;
    6) The people outside can rotate sentries for years ... and piss gallons down your vents;
    7) By being in one you are betting that you can out-survive everyone by over-doing it;
    8) So how's that bet look when that alone gets you noticed?

    Save your buckets of piss, they'll come in handy later. :-)

  10. Well, I think they're pretty extreme, but the subject is on everyone's mind about how to, or how much to prepare for nuclear radiation.
    Many of us probably didn't change anything about our lives when the nuclear reactor in Japan melted down not so many years ago. Or Chernobyl. These events did affect us even though they weren't close. There are still folks around who don't want to eat food from California because of concern over residual radiation.
    Potassium iodide is a good idea if you can find it right now. And even though it does expire, it's been tested for efficacy and minus heat, light, and moisture, has tested OK for as long as 7 years past expiration. It turns yellow when it goes bad.
    Recently I was scrolling looking for Christian videos or gardening,(my favorite subjects on YouTube) and stumbled on a guy showing prep for a nuclear event for poor folks, or apartment dwellers who couldn't leave. I can't remember how it was titled. Anyway, it was a black guy who looked to have had military training, and it was very informative and practical.
    He mentioned proximity to the blast and the importance of keeping up with the weather. This can give you a calculable timeline as to when fallout comes to your doorstep, which means the timeline for last minute preps for a certain event. He listed everything you needed to have on hand if you had to stay put, but also that knowing how much time you had also would let you know if you had opportunity to drive to a preferable secondary location which had been optimally prepared. I wish I'd written it down. In fact, I'm going to hunt it out. Probably a good idea to download. It was also concise. Not too long or short. Professionally done by a thoughtful man. And he touched on a lot more than I've mentioned.

  11. Totally aside from the security aspect (a highly publicized project that most people in a 50 mile radius certainly know about, not to mention any and all contractors who worked there) .. . who would want to deal with TEOTWAWKI among a bunch of old farts with more money than sense? I well understand the need for community, but the enforced living with people one hasn't chosen to associate with based on beliefs/temperament/skills would be my idea of hell on earth.

  12. Throwing out all the other considerations, one has to ask IF these bunkers were ever PROPERLY DE-CONTAMINATED. Military explosives are made up of a LOT of really nasty stuff (which is why they work so well when "deployed") that is highly toxic to carbon based life forms.

    It seems that this "survival bunker" operation is just one more fake prepper scam to separate the more money than brains types from their money. Kinda like that meme going around about depositing $100.00 into the slot to test your stupidity level. IMHO, of course.


  13. Hi Patrice. Krab (commenter above) is a glowie. Look it up if you havent heard the term. Block him.

  14. I think the whole project is a great idea. Thanks for writing about it

  15. Kicking the can of vulnerabilities down the proverbial road... if you DO survive beneath, fresh air, water, food, fuel, and medical care isn't waiting for you outside. Not to mention, the general SD locale is a prime target for enemy nukes. Pray we all fry quickly 😘