We get up to leave, but we're trapped in the office. Not realizing we were still in the back, Wiseman's partner closed the shop and went home, locking us in. Before I fully register what has happened, Wiseman has unsheathed a machete. He uses it to jimmy the lock in a single motion.

At his home in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Wiseman has rigged pipes connected to gutters to allow rainwater to flow into plastic collection barrels. A fledgling vegetable garden blooms by the front door.

"I'm currently prepared to self-sustain for at least a full year, with no contact with the outside world, with a family of four and two dogs," he explains. Inside the garage, he keeps his "preps," or supplies. Instead of kayaks and bicycles, he stores food, fuel, tampons, and toilet paper. He negotiated with Publix managers for about a dozen buckets of vacuum-packed bulk grains and beans. A shelving unit holds rows of boxed pasta and canned fruits and vegetable. He has calculated exactly how many rations his family will need to stay alive.

His wife is a lawyer, he says, and she makes good money. She isn't nearly as involved in prepping, but she allows him to spend part of the family budget on items such as the tremendous olive-green military-surplus backpack that stands ready to go, bulging with food, weapons, and medical supplies. Wiseman would take it outside to practice walking with it, but he doesn't because he'd probably be stopped by cops. It's not difficult to imagine him shouldering the pack while walking alone down the middle of a street with fires raging on both sides and threats in every shadow.

Inside the house, Wiseman greets his two little sons, one of whom is old enough to babble excitedly. He gives candy to the younger boy because Mom isn't home yet, and turns on cartoons on the flat-screen TV set. The children's nanny says goodbye and leaves.

Wiseman surveys his territory. "After the collapse," he says, "I'm going to miss the nanny."

Here's his picture of a postcollapse world: "You'll have a million predators who own guns and have made no preps. Those are the people to guard against."

I arrive early one Saturday evening in February for the South Florida preppers' monthly meet-and-greet barbecue at Wiseman's shop. An older man named Mr. Ike grills hamburgers in a parking space, while families with children fix up plates and pop sodas under a canopy of camouflage netting.

Wiseman has been running a promotion: Buy 100 rounds of ammo and get an Army-surplus metal ammunition can, a bit smaller than a shoebox, free. Not only can these boxes be used to store bullets or other items, but they can also be fashioned into a rudimentary Faraday cage. He explains that many preppers fear an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) of destructive gamma waves, triggered by a solar flare or a nuclear weapon launched into the sky. Within minutes, such a pulse could fry our electrical and communications grids and destroy the integrated-circuit chips inside all unshielded electronics. But get one of these boxes, line it with foil, and pop an extra phone or radio inside: instant shield.

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 an accretion of scenes that most people in South Florida 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 expired passport holds horror stories. He doesn't want to go into details, not at first.

Petrovich is also vague when describing his day job. From a nondescript office in Hollywood, he does business with developing nations, consulting on agricultural equipment sales. 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 almost 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 communities. I also 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.

Then I meet a man in his 50s with longish gray hair, a sizable belly, and camouflage pants. He gives his name only as "Bowreeguard," making sure that's how I spell it. He says preparation was a fact of life for his family during winters in "Live Free or Die" New Hampshire.

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24 comments
Jose Periut
Jose Periut

apocalypse, mayan calendar, jesus, when are you idiots going to stop believing in fairytales??

Ptruble
Ptruble

There is also the story of the bridesmaids who were told prepare for the bridegroom by getting themselves oil for their lamps. 1/2 did, 1/2 didnt, and when those who did not went begging to those who did they were sent away to get there own. They did not share, and they were not convicted by God for it. I find people ridiculous who believe what others have is theirs. That attitude will get you shot when your gubment fails you and own laziness and narrow-mindedness leads you to looting your neighbors. And by the way, the very government you will be waiting on to feed you is telling you to prepare with food, water, and a plan. Try ready.gov to get informed and stop spreading misinformation.

Tiptoethrutulips
Tiptoethrutulips

I find this prepping movement demonic. You look at your neighbors as enemies. you don't share what you have or give doing a crisis...you are hoarders. You should read the book of exodus and pay particular attention to Joseph. His generosity during the hard times famine fed not only all of Egypt but neighboring communities and nations...this the folly of chaos not the wisdom of God...even Noah invited his neighbors to join him...they refused...

Chris J Petrovich
Chris J Petrovich

Obviously, you don't know anything about them...and it is all public...1. They donate their our food items for rotation to soup kitchens and the homeless, and They strongly believe in CHARITY, as in having extra for their neighbors.......So unless they let their kids starve so you can eat, they are evil??? Hoarders....????? So when a person spends their money collecting canned food instead of collecting Nikes', or spending all their money on booze-drugs-hookers-gambling, cruises, or season tickets they are evil?? you live in a Hurricane Zone and you don't have atleast 1-2 weeks worth of food and water??? YOU have every right to collect food and water as they do, and you choose not to because...they are supposed to be collecting food for YOU?? And since you won't spend your money on food and water, these people should be forced to give everything to you??? You live in an area that CAN NOT sustain 1/1000th of the population without the DAILY 1,000 trucks bringing in food, fuel, medicine, clothes, etc....Even the food warehouses here, only have a 2-3 days supply of food for the area...if you recall Joseph had put enough food away for Egypt for 7 (Seven) Lean Years, we have 2-3 Days ...period....Noah wasn't offereing food to starving unprepared people................YOU already look at them as enemies........and all they have done is invite you to join them, and have volunteered to help you for FREE.............

Ptruble
Ptruble

Survivalists and prepping are defintely a growing trend, but i hope it isnt like other popular trends that rise to the surface and disappear into the shadows of our society. People shouldnt think of prepping as a means of preparing some improbable cataclysm, but instead should focus on those crises that are more likely to happen like a house fire, torbado, hurricane, job loss, etc... If you make an emergency plan that encompasses these disasters, then you are better prepared to happen the 500 year type events. Uf you are prepping, the Survival gear and supplies should be purchased at reputable dealer like www.patriotprovisions.com. Get help with planning from resources like ready.gov or other sources. Preparedness is insurance that is more important than any other.

 << Work at home, $35/h, link
<< Work at home, $35/h, link

When you take charge of your life, there is no longer need to ask permission of other people or society at large. When you ask permission, you give someone veto power over your life.

Raylinx
Raylinx

The events of which one has not contemplated in any given scenario, even that of any given scenario, is most likely the one that will harm.

God is always the only one who is in total control. Trust Jesus Christ and believe.

All that can be done is that which one can do. So do that which you can and will do and keep it all through God and in His wisdom. Discourage not the good works of any.

Live, love, believe, pray, and prepare.

Ruth Barnes
Ruth Barnes

I hope DHS and the other agencies are investigating all these survivalist nuts... especially the ones on the TV show. I would not want them living near me. They should not have guns or children either, in my feelings. I believe they are unstable mentally and just cannot cope with real life, and seen doom around every corner.

Ptruble
Ptruble

Wow. Have you ever read the Constitution or even know what it says and means? To each their own. I am certain if the govt ever fails to feed you in a crisis you will be first in line to steal and loot from those same well prepared neighbors.

Moonymaniac
Moonymaniac

Wow. They've done nothing illegal, are open about what they do, and you want the government to investigate them? You get to decide who can have children now do you? I doubt they would want a fascist like you living next to them either.

AllanDonald
AllanDonald

just as Brandon said I'm blown away that a single mom can get paid $7398 in 4 weeks on the computer. did you look at this link

===>>> Just Click on My Name For detailsb>

Jesus Ridriguez
Jesus Ridriguez

Make peace w.Jesus C. and buy plenty of ammo,machetes and anything else you find.

Thomas Harris
Thomas Harris

12 21 12 it aint the end of the world .. ITS THE END OF AN ERA ... apparently people dont like reading history ... or just don't understand the Mayan Calender ... WE WILL BE ALIVE ON 12/22/12 ... so you all can welcome the new Era ... Wow people really just don't understand

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........

Stefan Kamph
Stefan Kamph

Chris, thank you again for all your help with the story. We'll correct that information in the online version.

Chris J Petrovich
Chris J Petrovich

Oh man, Stefan......Can you find a better picture of me, not even my family recognizes me.......I would owe you one for that......and in a worst case scenario, that could be a very good thing for you.......worth more than gold.

myoleman
myoleman

There's a sure disaster coming soon, when the Yellowstone supervolcano explodes (we just don't know exactly when, but it is due anytime now). Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done to protect yourself except to flee as soon as possible to the sourthern hemisphere in a plane. Hopefully theyre will be some rumblings and warning signs before the dire disaster. Much better to make your peace with Lord Jesus and secure a berth in eternal life in his kingdom.

Thomas Harris
Thomas Harris

12 21 12 it aint the end of the world .. ITS THE END OF AN ERA ... apparently people dont like reading history ... or just don't understand the Mayan Calender ... WE WILL BE ALIVE ON 12/22/12 ... so you all can welcome the new Era ... Wow people really just don't understand

runrandrand
runrandrand

GET A JOB----GET A LIFE-------GET SER-IOUS!!!!!!!

JakeValentine
JakeValentine

95%+ of these prepper articles attempt to paint preppers as crazy people scared of the Mayan calendar. I have never, ever met a prepper worried about the Mayan calendar. The vast majority are simply being responsible preparing their families for any unforseen natural or manmade disaster. It seems as though a certain segment of society takes offense at the lack of faith in the government post-disaster. Feel free to wait for help if a disaster hits your area rather than ensure your family can deal with the circumstances, but you aren't fooling most people with these hit pieces against preppers. The number of preppers grows every day.......

Stefan Kamph
Stefan Kamph

Hi Jake. I hope you will take the time to read the story beyond the first few paragraphs.

runrandrand
runrandrand

I HAVE A GIANT NICE CERAMIC MAYAN CALENDER PLATE/BOWL WE ARE GOING TO SMASH WITH THE SLEDGE HAMMER , AND DO FIREWORKS, HAVE A BAR-B-QUE, AND DRINK LOTTSA BOOOZE ON THE APPROPRIATE DAY AND TIME---THAT IS MUCH MORE POSITIVE--!

Steve
Steve

Hope your sarcasm doesn't come back to bite you hard. Otherwise, you'll just be another dead zombie.

 
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