Doomsday businesses rising to meet demand

Doomsday businesses rising to meet demand
The above image shows the design of a Vivos underground shelter complex, complete with amenities including an entertainment lounge and office space. To help maintain the community bunkers’ secrecy, Vivos only allows staff and co-owners to tour the bunkers. Image courtesy of © 2012

COAST CITIES — From terrorist attacks to major hurricanes, disasters do occur, and businesses are growing to help meet the demands of those wishing to prepare today for the emergencies of tomorrow. Del Mar’s The Vivos Group and Oceanside’s Be Ready, Inc. are two such survival preparedness businesses. The Vivos Group, which builds luxury underground bunkers and sells spaces in those shelters for up to $85,000 per person, and Be Ready, Inc. that sells household survival supplies.

“I had a very strong, powerful inspiration that something devastating was coming that was going to be a life extinction event,” said Robert Vicino, about his inspiration for starting the Vivos Group. “The impression that I was left with is that I needed to build a shelter to hold thousands of people.”

Vicino said he first had the idea to build bunkers in the 1980s, but did not launch Vivos until 2007 after he had made his fortune with a number of successful businesses and patents.

Al Cabacungan shows an emergency kit that Be Ready, Inc. is preparing for a private company. The kit includes flashlights, gloves, a first aid kit, and other supplies. Photo by Rachel Stine

Gathering a team from his current real estate company, Vicino said he invested “millions of dollars and years of time” to design and build underground shelters to protect people from catastrophes ranging from nuclear attacks to hurricanes.

Vicino and his website promote a vast number of doomsday theories. The website features information on nuclear terrorism, the Nibiru cataclysm (a collision or near miss of a planetary object with Earth), ancient prophesies about the end of time, and other disasters.

Vivos’ chief venture is its six massive community bunkers, which have been built in secret locations throughout the U.S. and hold anywhere from 80 to 1,000 people for a year. Spaces in these community bunkers cost $85,000 to $25,000 per person, depending on the shelter and private accommodation options.

Vivos advertises that its shelters contain enough resources for a year of autonomous survival. These shelters are also said to contain every type of necessary living space, including private bedrooms and bathrooms, kitchens, gyms, libraries and detention facilities.

To do so, Vicino said he and his hired consultants have researched every living necessity known to man, including the amount of toilet paper needed per person per year.

Furthermore, Vivos requires people to go through an extensive application process before they are allowed to buy space in one of its large bunkers.

Vicino said that the Vivos Selection Committee screens and approves each individual for each bunker to ensure that every bunker community is made up of even-tempered people that offer a range of valuable survival skills. Vicino said that about 20 percent of applications are denied.

Vicino is insistent that Vivos offers the only “life assurance solution” for surviving nearly every natural or manmade disaster. He stated that other companies offering survival bunkers are “wannabes.”

He said that a stash of food and water would not protect people from the substantial disasters that are bound to come.

To those who cannot afford to buy a space in a Vivos bunker, he advises, “Get in the car, drive to the mountains on a weekend Sunday, and see if you can find a cave or something well-sheltered.”

Be Ready, Inc. started over 20 years ago when Al Cabacungan set out to make emergency kits for his family.

When friends and neighbors started asking him for their own emergency kits, Cabacungan opened an emergency supplies kiosk in the Carlsbad mall. The business has since grown beyond that little kiosk, and now consists of his main store in Oceanside, as well as new branches in Murrietta and Hawaii run by his two eldest sons.

Everything, from his products to his free preparation seminars to his interactions with customers, promotes his philosophy that the best form of preparation is covering the basic necessities of their families and neighbors for times of emergency.

“When someone is giving and they share, you start working together. And when everyone is working together, it just seems to work out better,” said Cabacungan. In this way, he believes that communities can avoid desperation that can lead to violence if they work together during disasters.

The company’s main Oceanside store sells products ranging from 50-cent can openers to a $5,000 lithium battery. Its top sellers are the AquaPail and solar power products.

The store specializes in its grab-and-go 72-hour emergency kits, which includes a three-day supply of water packets and calorie bars, battery-less flashlight, emergency mylar blankets, a first aid kit and more.

He said that his customers come to his store with a wide range of reasons for seeking out disaster supplies.

“When you’re in this industry, walking through those doors is all kinds of people,” said Cabacungan.

He tries to emphasize to everyone to focus on the basics of preparation.

Cabacungan said that the most important element is making sure that a person has enough water. Second to that, he advises people to decide whether they plan on evacuating or staying at home during an emergency and base their supply needs on that decision.

“If I try to overdo it, like anything else, that’s not going to help anybody. Next thing you know, you’re wasting money on storage places; you’ve got to buy land,” said Cabacungan. “Personally, I think that is a little extravagant, it should be a simple balance with everybody.”



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