Post-apocalyptic worlds may exist on the big screen
and in sci-fi novels, but that's where the similarities
between a disaster-ravaged planet and daily life
in America end.
Or so you may think.
A new TLC show introduces us to the families
who live in fear of the apocalypse, convinced
by the inevitability of the end of the world
as they know it.
But far from admitting defeat, the programme
instead focuses on their preparations for life
after destruction. And, as TLC shows, survival
tactics take on many forms.
Livin' for the Apocalypse follows four families
who are not only predicting the apocalypse but
preparing for its arrival. The measures that
they are taking now, are they believe, the key
to their survival if economic collapse, doomsday
predictions, natural disasters, alien invasion,
meteor strikes or zombie viruses ever take grip
of planet earth.
Meet Peggy and Scott Layton. The parents of
seven children, the Laytons believe they are
'ready for anything.'
The family from Manti, Utah, have a garden to
live from and a root cellar that can double as
a bomb shelter as well as a home in the mountains
- protected by Mr Layton's large supply of firearms
- that they will escape to should disaster or
invasion ever make the city unsafe.
'We won't go down without a fight,' says the
father and plumber.
Mrs Layton's office has an entire underground
bunker system including bedrooms with bunk
beds, a kitchen and dining room and, of course,
ample storage for food and supplies.
Determined to hoard as much food as she
can fit in her bunker, she has has made a
whole career from preparing for the end of
the world as she knows it. She has published
seven books to date, all focusing on the
key to emergency food preparation and survival.
Warfare: Survival Doc explains the benefits
of a side-ventilated gasmasks. You want interference
with your gun's aim, afterall
bunny: The Doc takes a rabbit from his bank
of hutches and prepares to kill it before
storing the meat for harder times
'If it's messy and unorganised, it's hoarding'
the mother and business woman says. 'I feel
a great urgency to be prepared and to have
my family prepared. It's a possibility we
could have an earthquake, we could have economic
Over in St Louis, Missouri, the Survival
Doc is taking no chances. He and his wife
Liz have stockpiled silver for years - their
various coins, ornaments and table wear accumulating
thousands of dollars' worth of value over
Don't forget a can opener: The Survival Doc
has an internet channel on which he broadcasts
tips for days of destruction, not least food
storage and access
A chiropractor by trade, Survival Doc even
has an internet channel on which he broadcasts
survival tips, inside knowledge and plans for
The grey-bearded super-scout lives by the
survival motto 'One is more, two is one,' and
stores vast amounts of food, supplies and even
alcohol even though he is not a drinker, because
'it's good bartering material.'
He farms rabbits, killing and storing their
meat and owns a selection of guns, including
a concealed 357 magnum which he wears at all
times. He even tried to develop a way to swim
with the weapon, but admits that 'obviously
you can't protect everything. There are no
guarantees in life.'
For her part, his wife, Liz, is long-suffering:
'I try to support him in everything he does.
But it's a challenge.' She remains supportive,
though: I'm so grateful my husband has taken
the time to put things together,' she says
of his eccentric tendencies.
Survival mode: The McClungs show off their
supplies including the family's surgical kit
The family that prepares together: Dennis McClung
and his son, five, make a game out of practicing
to dress in their survival gear
His dogged multiple-buying of everything has
one exception, though: 'I only have one wife.
One is enough in that regard.'
Then, there is the young family from Mesa,
Arizona who believe in Hopi, Malachy and Mayan
prophesies that predict the world will end
Danielle and Dennis McClung have two young
children and have made sure to teach them what
to do in an emergency. Together, the family
make games out of praticing to dress in gas
masks and protective clothing, while the children
are taught to fend for themselves in preparation
for a worse-case scenario.
Mrs McClung says of her 'protective' five-year-old
son: 'He can cook, he can make cereal,' hoping
that if anything was ever to happen to the
adults, the infant could take care of his two-year-old
Self-sustaining: The McClungs have built a
garden with a tilapia pool, goats, chickens
and plenty of vegetables
Gone fishin: A fishing net is hauled in from
the tilapia pond, ready for the McClung's dinner.
The fish are fed by chicken droppings from
a coop above the pond
The McClungs hope to live entirely off grid
by doomsday in December 2012, producing all
of their own food, water, and energy. They
have converted a swimming pool into a hi-tech
closed loop garden complete with chickens,
goats and a tilapia pool that is nourished
by chicken droppings.
Helped by community volunteers, they say their
unusual vision is an inspiration to others.
'I don't see ourselves as fear-mongers or even
negative people,' says Mr McClung. 'I think
we are actually very optimistic people, we're
just preparing for the worse-case scenario
and hoping for the best.'
But there are fewer more unorthodox approaches
to post-apocalyptic survival than friends Jackie
and Gidget from the Southwest Desert. Jackie,
a trans-gender woman, is credited with being
'the enforcer, protector, handyman... or handywoman'
of the pair, while Gidget takes control of
food storage and has a career as a seamstress.
The couple, who wear matching purple tops,
seem to have little strategy in place, besides
heading to the shooting range to beef up their
'shoot to kill' survival tactics.
'We're preparing because the world as we know
it and especially our country is coming to
an end,' says Gidget. She is on the lookout
for economic collapse, war and rioting, but
Jackie is more fearful of 'zombies.'
'I would like am M-16 or something like that
for self-protection,' says Jackie, a senior
who is undergoing hormone therapy.
Not so rosy: As sweet as they may appear, Jackie,
left, and Gidget are determined to 'shoot to
kill' then 'can em up.' We hope that doesn't
mean what it seems to imply
Ladies with guns: Jackie, left, and Gidget
make sure their gun skills are up to scratch,
ready for doomsday. They vow to 'shoot to kill'
'I have learned how to shoot a gun... I don't
want to have to shoot anybody but I will,'
says Gidget. 'I've always been taught that
whatever you shoot and kill you have to eat
it and I'm not accountable but it might come
to that... Shoot to kill. Can 'em up.'
We can only hope it won't get to that stage:
the couple have been hoarding food, alcohol
and home-canned meats - including beef heart
and 'cheap pork' - and their bathroom is stocked
full with tinned carrots, spaghetti sauce and
tuna fish. They breed and sell guinea pigs
that they hope to never eat. 'They are a little
skinny,' says Jackie.
From guns to gas masks and fresh fish, the
one-hour special programme says that preparations
for the apocalypse are a growing trend in the
U.S. as more and more families ready themselves
for a life beyond civilisation. A final word
of survival to take from the unconventional
characters on the show?
'Maybe in preparing for the worst, it brings
out the best in humanity,' says a hopeful Mr
McClung. Or, there are always the dubiously
wise - or should that read paranoid? - words
of the Survival Doc to live by: 'Be prepared.
Or be prepared to be fleeced.'
Livin' for the Apocalypse airs on TLC, 10pm,
Prepare to Live or Prepare to Die, you decide.
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