US Families Prepare For 'Modern Day Apocalypse'
From the outside America may seem to be a land of endless optimism and confidence. But could it be in danger of falling apart?
An increasing number of Americans seem to think so, and they're preparing for the end.
They call themselves preppers. Mainstream suburban Americans hoarding supplies and weapons while leading otherwise perfectly normal lives.
A former nuclear missile facility in the US that has now been turned into a high-tech refuge for people who fear the end of the world.
This old nuclear missile facility has been turned into an apocalypse refuge
It's a national phenomenon and it's supporting a doom boom industry worth many millions.
Braxton Southwick is a typical father-of-six in Salt Lake City, who believes the nice suburban neighbourhood he lives in could soon be swept away by some kind of modern day apocalypse.
Video: What Is Prepping?
Like other preppers, he's afraid of some impending catastrophe but also what that will do to American society.
"I think that is what I'm scared of the most," he told Sky News, "Not the actual events. I've already prepared for that. It's the aftermath, when there are no police, there are no military to protect us, we're going to be protecting ourselves."
The trigger could be a terrorist attack, a monetary collapse, cataclysmic failure in power generation, or a natural disaster. Preppers fear what comes next and have no faith in either their government or human nature.
"Once people use up all their resources, they're going to come after the people that prepared and had more resources. So basically we have to take care of ourselves."
Braxton and his wife Kara have a basement that will see them through Armageddon, literally. Enough dried and canned food to last six months. Enough guns and ammunition to turn their family into a small army.
And they have trained each of their six children, including the youngest aged 15, how to defend themselves with guns to see off the mobs of marauding looters they predict could come after them after their world collapses.
At the other end of America, another family are preparing in exactly the same way. In Virginia, Jay and Holly Blevins hoard food and weapons and run a network of like-minded families.
Video: Preppers Teach Kids To Shoot Guns
"We're not talking about folks walking around wearing tin foil on their heads," Jay tells Sky News. "We're not talking about conspiracy theorists.
"I'm talking about professionals: doctors and lawyers and law enforcement and military. Normal, everyday people. They can't necessarily put their finger on it. But there's something about the uncertainty of our times. They know something isn't quite right."
Jay is a celebrity in the strange but increasingly mainstream world of preppers, writing prepper books and touring America, speaking at prepper expos where a bewildering range of survival supplies and techniques are on offer.
Why is it happening? Partly, no doubt, because it allows Americans to indulge in some of their favourite pastimes: consuming, camping and buying lots and lots of guns.
And partly because fear sells, drives up numbers for cable news, and increases sales for everything from dried food to assault rifles.
But it's also arguably a sign of a country coping with economic decline. The end of the American Dream has left people more uncertain about their future, and their country's.
Katy Bryson is in Jay's prepper network. Prepping, she says, puts Americans back in charge of their destiny.
Video: Why Are Americans Prepping?
"They're not in control of whether they lose their job or not but they are in control of whether they are prepared. So I feel like that's why the industry is just booming right now for preparedness," Katy added.
It is also a fundamentally American phenomenon. In a country built on the radical individualism of its founding fathers, people have an inbuilt mistrust in their government's ability to protect them.
Sociologist Barry Glastner wrote The Culture of Fear. He told Sky News: "Americans are fairly unique as world citizens in that we tend to believe that we control our own destiny as individuals to a much greater extent than we really do."
Ironically, he points out preppers may actually be reacting to their fears in the least effective way. Dangerous weather, terrorist attacks and economic collapses are all best dealt with by higher authorities, he said.
"Where there are real dangers, to take an individualistic approach is usually exactly the wrong thing to do. So the kinds of things that the preppers are preparing to protect themselves from are much better handled on a community-wide basis than they are in your own home." SKY