Doomsday bunker sales soar in Maine

The fear of the apocalypse is nothing new. From the infamous Y2K bug to the Mayan doomsday prophecy of 2012, people have spent a lot of time worrying about the end of the world as we know it. For many, this anxiety has only been amplified by recent events, as devastating hurricanes have struck the Americas and tension rises in U.S. politics– and in preparation for the next potentially apocalyptic event, people are turning to Maine for shelter. Sales of so-called “doomsday bunkers” near the coast of Maine have soared in the past few months, providing preppers with an underground safe house in which they can ride out the end of the world. Ron Hubbard, owner of the Atlas Survival Shelters company, reflected on the phenomenon in an interview with ABC News.

“It’s strictly defensive,” Hubbard said to ABC News. “Nobody’s looking for a fight. A shelter is more secretive than a bank account.”

According to Hubbard, the election of Trump as president and the subsequent turmoil within the American government has been the main motivator behind many of his clients’ purchases “They are afraid of the U.S. government and where this country is headed. They see a battle in the future. They see the Constitution being trampled. They see the first Amendment gone, they see the second Amendment gone…. The U.S. Constitution is under attack.” This sentiment is echoed by Gary Lynch, owner of a bunker installation company in Texas.

“Basically, people are afraid of nuclear bombing,” said Lynch in an interview with Haaretz. “They know as long as Iran, China, or Russia threaten us, Trump won’t back down. And they are afraid that if we most likely go to war, nukes will be used.”

Here in Maine, Frank Woodworth claimed in the Bangor Daily News  that he is “as busy as the dickens” with orders for his bunker installation company, Northeast Bunkers.

“We’ve seen an increase in sales recently…. with North Korea’s talk about then doing missile tests,” said Woodworth in an interview with Bangor Daily News. “Generally speaking, we have higher sales with these types of events.”

Doomsday bunkers are typically made of steel and buried three to four feet underground, with a doorway that is typically camouflaged using trees and brush.

“With [the bunkers], you have a sense that you’re invisible because nobody can get to you down there,” said Hubbard to the Bangor Daily News. “You can drive within 20 feet of a bunker and not know it’s there.”

According to the Northeast Bunkers website, the shelters usually cost between $40,000 and $60,000. The company offers a range of sizes, from 8×13 feet to 8×20 feet, and can also install fully functional kitchens, septic systems, running water, and more. Some wealthy clients even purchase bunkers with hot tubs or screening rooms, challenging the stereotypical image of barren, concrete shelters. Robert Vicino, CEO of Vivos, claims that for many, this type of luxury is necessary for survival.

“Your father or grandfather’s bunker was not very comfortable,” Vicino told CNN in an interview. “They were gray. They were metal, like a ship or something military. And the truth is man cannot survive long term in such a Spartan, bleak environment.”

Many celebrities have hopped on the luxury bunker train, constructing expansive and expensive underground safe houses in preparation for the worst. According to an article by The Daily Mail, Bill Gates is reported to be creating a nuclear bunker under his Seattle property, and Kanye West admitted that he placed an order for a luxurious bunker for himself and his family. The U.S. government is also reported by The Daily Mail to have an extensive network of bunkers all across the country, sparing no expense to make sure that the government will be protected from doomsday in whatever form it takes. However, many people of more modest means order bunkers as well. Margaret, a retired schoolteacher from Farmington, ME, has her own way of making her shelter feel a little cozier without going bankrupt.

“I have decorated it with family portraits and other things from around our home,” said Margaret in an email to Bangor Daily News. “It feels really good when we go inside. Like home.” While hanging family portraits or installing a Jacuzzi in an apocalypse bunker may seem a bit ridiculous, sometimes it’s these little things that can make a situation feel so much better– and if these doomsday preppers are confronting nuclear war or economic collapse or whatever else ends the world as we know it, they will need all the help they can get.