Doomsday Shelters

MOJAVE DESERT, Calif.

At an undisclosed location deep in the Mojave Desert, about 150 miles from Los Angeles and just 30 miles east of Barstow, sits this cold-war era bunker. From the outside, it may not look like much. But, five stories below the desert's surface, this shelter is being transformed into a luxurious escape, if and when disaster strikes.

"It's there, I've seen it. I've been there twice and it's definitely ready for any situation that could happen," said Jason Hodge. "You know, either natural disaster or terrorist type attack."

To use the shelter, you have to pay in advance to be a part of it.

Jason Hodge, a Teamsters Union representative from Barstow has already committed to investing nearly a quarter of a million dollars.

$50,000.00 for he and his wife. And $25,000.000 for each of his four kids.

"I mean to me, it's a small price to pay for the life of me and my family," said Hodge.

Once complete, this shelter can accommodate 132 people and can withstand a nuclear blast from 10 miles away. It will include everything from a public lounge, to a medical clinic, even a jail for unruly tenants.

"You know, everything that happens out here is multiplied times a hundred cause it's all right there," said Hodge. "You know, if someone gets out of hand, you need a jail."

A southern California company called the vivos network is behind the project. They plan on retrofitting 20 bunkers nationwide, including a few in Europe by 2012.

The bunkers are all located within 150 miles of major metropolitan cities. And the largest one will hold up to 2,000 people.

At a cost of millions of dollars per location, the company is selling partial ownerships, similar to permanent timeshares.

From his office in Del Mar, Vivos President Robert Vicino explained why the price is worth it. "I'm sure you have a lot of backyard swimming pools in the Fresno area, and the last time I checked, a swimming pool runs $50,000 plus, so it really boils down to a question of choice, do you want a life solution, saving solution for you and your family to protect your family, or do you want more toys?"

On his company's website, a ticking clock shows how much time is left until the end of the Mayan calendar or December 21, 2012. That's the date some people believe the world will end.

Surprisingly, Vicino doesn't buy it. He says the real threat is not what we've seen in some science fiction Hollywood movie. Instead, it will be something similar to what we've already experienced. Take 9/11 for example, or even hurricane Katrina.

"The risks are all around us," said Vicino. "You know the big one as they say is supposed to be coming very soon. You're right in the middle of it."

While membership for these bunkers is growing, some say the notion of the apocalypse and the fact that people are spending so much money to protect themselves is pretty surprising.

"It seems extreme, especially when you do compare it to some of the rather cheaper accommodations during the cold war."

Fresno State Professor, Dr. Lori Clune has studied the cold war era extensively. Dr. Clune says, in those days, the threat of nuclear attack was real.

Even Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy urged Americans to build underground shelters. Now, she says ... the so-called "end" is much more vague.

"We were on the democratic side, the quote good side, the Soviet Union was communist and it was very bad and it was very simple," said Clune. "And I think it's very frustrating for people now, we don't know what to be afraid of."

Which might explain the philosophy behind these modern-day bunkers. A unique form of insurance ... for some piece of mind.

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