Archive for Thursday, June 20, 2013

Kansas caverns could preserve human race, developer claims

June 20, 2013


Paved roadways lead the way to the Vivos Shelter and Resort during a tour of the facility in Atchison, Kan., Tuesday, June 18, 2013. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Paved roadways lead the way to the Vivos Shelter and Resort during a tour of the facility in Atchison, Kan., Tuesday, June 18, 2013. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

— After most of the world’s population is wiped off the map by a wayward meteorite or hail of nuclear missiles, the survival of the human race might just depend on a few thousand people huddled in recreational vehicles deep in the bowels of an eastern Kansas mine.

That’s the vision of a California man who is creating what he calls the world’s largest private underground survivor shelter, using a complex of limestone caves dug more than 100 years ago beneath gently rolling hills overlooking the Missouri River.

“I do believe I am on a mission and doing a spiritual thing,” said Robert Vicino, who has purchased a large portion of the former U.S. Army storage facility on the southeast edge of Atchison, about 50 miles northwest of Kansas City, Mo. “We will certainly be part of the genesis.”

Before it comes time to ride out Armageddon or a deadly global pandemic, though, Vicino says the Vivos Survival Shelter and Resort will be a fun place for members to take vacations and learn assorted survival skills to prepare them for whatever world-changing catastrophe awaits.

Jacque Pregont, president of the Atchison Chamber of Commerce, said some people think the shelter plan sounds creepy or that Vicino has “lost his mind,” while others are excited because they will finally get a chance to tour the property.

Atchison is known as the birthplace of Amelia Earhart and one of the most haunted towns in Kansas, Pregont said, so the survival shelter is likely to add to the town’s tourism draw.

“It’s quirky, and quirky gets attention,” she said.

Recent Hollywood movies have done big business exploring themes about threats to the human race, either through climate shifts, meteor impacts or zombie invasions. And the National Geographic Channel show, “Doomsday Preppers,” documents the efforts of Americans who are preparing for the end of the world with elaborate shelters and plenty of freeze-dried rations.

Paul Seyfried, who belongs to a group that promotes preparing for manmade or natural disasters, said Americans have become complacent ever since the death of John F. Kennedy, the last president who urged people to build fallout shelters.

“There has been no war on our soil in over 100 years, so the horror of war is not stamped indelibly in Americans’ minds,” said Seyfried, a member of The American Civil Defense Association’s advisory board.

Ken Rose, a history professor at California State University-Chico, is an outspoken critic of underground shelters. Though he acknowledged that interest in underground shelters is growing, he called projects like the Kansas facility a “colossal waste of time and money.”

“Some people are just obsessed by this idea,” Rose said. “... Without minimizing the terror threat here today, the threats were much greater at the height of the Cold War. At least then anxiety was based on a realistic scenario.”

The Kansas caverns are 100 feet to 150 feet below the surface and have a constant natural temperature in the low 70s. They are supported by thick limestone pillars six times stronger than concrete and will have blast doors built to withstand a one-megaton nuclear explosion as close as 10 miles away, Vicino said.

Other than being surrounded by more than a mile and a half of 6-foot-high chain-link fence topped with sharp rows of barbed wire, the land above ground isn’t distinguishable from expanses of hills and trees that surround it. The proposed shelter’s entrances — nondescript concrete loading docks tucked discretely into the wooded hillside — are easily defensible against any potential intruders provided there’s not a full-scale military attack, Vicino said.

The Army used the caverns — created by limestone mining operations that started in the late 1880s — for decades as a storage facility before putting them up for auction last year. The winning bid in December was $1.7 million, but financing fell through and the site was put up for sale again.

Springfield, Mo., investor Coby Cullins submitted his winning $510,000 bid for the property in early April, and he immediately started looking for ways to use it. One of his ideas was to lease the land to a company that builds survival bunkers.

Vicino, whose company is based in Del Mar, Calif., said he received an email from Cullins and flew to Kansas two days later to check out the property. Vicino agreed to purchase 75 percent of the complex, rather than lease it, while Cullins retained the rest and is marketing it to local businesses.

The complex consists of two fully lighted, temperature-controlled mines with concrete floors. The east cave, which Cullins owns, encompasses about 15 acres and contains offices, vaults, restrooms and other developed work spaces. The much larger west cave, which covers about 45 acres, is mostly undeveloped and will be converted into the Vivos facility.

The shelter will have enough space for more than 1,000 RVs and up to about 5,000 people. Members will be charged $1,000 for every lineal foot of their RV to purchase their space, plus $1,500 per person for food. That means a person who plans to park a 30-foot vehicle in the shelter with four people inside will pay $30,000 for the space and $6,000 for food.

Actual sales won’t begin until a “critical mass” of reservations are received and processed, Vicino said, which hasn’t happened yet at the Kansas shelter.

Vivos also owns a shelter in Indiana with room for 80 people to live comfortably for up to a year. There, members pay $50,000 per adult and $35,000 per child, so a family with two adults and two children would have to come up with $170,000 to be part of the post-apocalyptic generation.

Purchasers will be required to pay for the full balance before taking possession of their shelter space, though the company has offered limited financing in the past with a sizable down payment.

Vicino says he won’t say specifically where the Indiana shelter or any of his smaller facilities are located because he fears there would be anarchy in the event of a world-changing catastrophe.

And it doesn’t matter who comes knocking at the “moment of truth,” Vicino said, they’re probably not getting in.

“I’ve heard people say, ‘I will just show up at the door,’” he said. “Our response is, ‘great, where is the door?’ At our secret shelters, you don’t know where to go, and your cash will be worthless at that time.”


riverdrifter 4 years, 8 months ago

I've been in those caves. I think they are the perfect place for huckster Vicino and those of his ilk.

Phoghorn 4 years, 8 months ago

It sounds like he wants us to think he is doing it in the name of God...but he is laughing all the way to the bank. I don't begrudge someone wanting to make a buck (proud capitalist here), but I can really see how this guy could really dupe some people. "Hey, Honey, lets sell all of our stocks, gold, and get a HELOC so we can drop 50K on a membership..."

I believe in being prepared for possible eventualities (ie tornadoes, fires, etc), but I would rather be with family and close friends in a small shelter, than with a bunch of strangers. 50K will get you a good private shelter with money to spare.

chootspa 4 years, 8 months ago

Not if you're the target demographic.

Phoghorn 4 years, 8 months ago

I would rather go to the Armory in Atchison. At least last time I was there all of the urinals worked.

Robert Rauktis 4 years, 8 months ago

If he can get the Republicans to move there, I'll vote for it! Just say it has an elite snob college.

weeslicket 4 years, 8 months ago

"and Resort" ..... gotta love that part

question4u 4 years, 8 months ago

"Vivos also owns a shelter in Indiana with room for 80 people to live comfortably for up to a year."

Then after a year the ones who haven't killed each other as the food starts to run out can emerge from the cave and die a slow death by radiation poisoning. Or, if a massive meteorite has hit the earth, they can starve to death in the deep freeze of a world blocked from the sun by particulate matter in the atmosphere (which would stay airborne for years). Since nothing will grow, all of the preserved food will already have been appropriated by those surface dwellers who stayed behind, and the troglodytes will have to knock on doors. But "they're probably not getting in" unless they knock on the doors of people better and more worthy of perpetuating the human race than themselves.

On the other hand, what a fun place for "members to take vacations." Little Johnny and Susie can learn how to handle an assault rifle and rig IEDs to kill any unfortunates who might come to the compound looking for food. They'll learn important life lessons about dealing with other people that way. That should definitely make our contemporary society more humane. That must be what Vivos means by "doing a spiritual thing."

Oh, by the way, all of you business owners thinking of moving to Kansas: there's a reason that survivalists congregate here.

chootspa 4 years, 8 months ago

I'm not sure what is offensive about pointing out that if civilization is wiped out, there's also no court you can use to sue anyone if the builders of this, say, forget to completely stock the place with food or skimped on the actual safety requirements. It's not a libelous comment nor a personal attack on another poster. But I'll chalk it up to another technical glitch. Oh, silly technical glitches.

GeneParmesan 4 years, 8 months ago

General "Buck" Turgidson: Doctor, you mentioned the ratio of ten women to each man. Now, wouldn't that necessitate the abandonment of the so-called monogamous sexual relationship, I mean, as far as men were concerned?

Dr. Strangelove: Regrettably, yes. But it is, you know, a sacrifice required for the future of the human race. I hasten to add that since each man will be required to do prodigious... service along these lines, the women will have to be selected for their sexual characteristics which will have to be of a highly stimulating nature.

Ambassador de Sadesky: I must confess, you have an astonishingly good idea there, Doctor.

gatekeeper 4 years, 8 months ago

Not me. Growing up during the cold war, I was always glad to know that KS would be targeted first because of the mass amount of nukes we had. Figured if we got nuked, myself and family would be killed very quickly. What's left behind after an apocalyptical event is scarier. No desire to live in a Mad Max world.

Jock Navels 4 years, 8 months ago

anyone remember the movie, A Boy and His Dog?

EarthaKitt 4 years, 8 months ago

No, but I stayed at a Holiday Inn last night.

smileydog 4 years, 8 months ago

In the likelyhood the world economy collapses, what would prevent the military from taking this underground bunker back? Of course money will be meaningless at that time. .

Sam Crow 4 years, 8 months ago

How about the movie "Blast from the past" with Brendon Fraser?

Phoghorn 4 years, 8 months ago

Step 1. Buy the RV slot next to Paris Hilton's.

Step 2. Marry the girl next door.

KansasPerson 4 years, 8 months ago

I agree with question4u.

From the article: "Before it comes time to ride out Armageddon or a deadly global pandemic, though, Vicino says the Vivos Survival Shelter and Resort will be a fun place for members to take vacations and learn assorted survival skills...." Oh yes, an excellent place to teach your children a very pragmatic (not to mention paranoid) outlook and a rather harsh way to think of and treat other people. This attitude will not just go into hibernation, ready to pull out in case of emergency -- it will affect their interactions with people in the normal life that they will most likely have.

I don't feel kindly toward people who try exploit and profit from the fears of others. Also I strongly suspect that this man has the money to go forward with this project. Furthermore, mikekt points out some very real problems with this scenario.

Reminds me of the Chatsworth cryonics scandal in the late 1970s.

gccs14r 4 years, 8 months ago

That natural low-70s temp won't last long with 5000 humans jammed in there. 2500 BTUs per person adds up to a lot of heat to get rid of. Then you have heat from cooking, heat given off from refrigeration devices, heat from lighting, and then there are the odors, both biological and chemical. All those RVs will produce fumes even if the engines aren't running, and 5000 humans will produce a smell even if everyone stays clean. Oh, and rodents and insects will find you down there.

Have fun in your expensive tomb!

Carol Bowen 4 years, 8 months ago

Does anyone remember the movie, Blast From The Past?

gccs14r 4 years, 8 months ago

Oh, and I forgot about humidity. So it'll be a moldy sauna filled with pit odor, butt gas, fuel fumes, and rotting garbage. The first murder will happen in less than a month, assuming the lot of them don't asphyxiate first.

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