Photographs by Charles Ommanney

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The term ‘Prepper’ refers to anyone who is preparing for the worst situations that may befall them: blackouts, food shortages, economic collapse, anarchy. Huge collections of emergency supplies are a must, and some Preppers amass large quantities of weapons. Recent economic turmoil and natural calamities like Superstorm Sandy are often cited as evidence that disaster could be right around the corner.

Tim Ralston has become something of an icon among the Prepper community. He runs a successful business selling emergency supplies online, and has created a device he calls the Crovel: a swiss army knife shovel. He maintains a certain degree of secrecy - to meet with Ralston at his bunker in Arizona, the writer and photographer on this assignment were blindfolded, so as not to give away the specific location.

Jules Dervaes is a proponent of Urban Homesteading; he and his three adult children raise almost all of their food on their 1/5 acre lot in Pasadena, California. They try to live off-grid as much as they can, relying on solar power, bio-diesel, and wastewater reclamation. Dervaes envisions a potential collapse of the industrial food production system.

Jason Charles works as a firefighter in New York City; he cites an eruption of the Yellowstone super volcano as a potential disaster worth preparing for. Space is limited in New York, and his gear has taken over much of his family’s apartment, as well as a storage space that he rents. .

Ralston and Charles are both featured in the National Geographic series ‘Doomsday Preppers.’ This story was originally shot on assignment for Stern Magazine.