Oklahomans are all-too familiar with the idea of building shelters to protect themselves and families against the elements — namely tornadoes.
But how well would your tornado shelter protect you in the event of nuclear fallout? Shifting of the earth's crust? Complete financial meltdown? Zombie invasion?
A nearby state is preparing to host one of the most extensive doomsday shelters on the planet.
Protectors, not preppers
A California man, Robert Vicino, 59, has taken the idea of doomsday prepping to a new level. His company, Vivos, is currently in the process of converting an enormous underground limestone mine in Atchison, Kan., into the world's largest private underground shelter.
“It's equal to the size of the Empire State Building in square footage,” Vicino said. The Vivos Survival Shelter & Resort will accommodate 5,000 people, Vicino said, unlike the several other similar shelters Vivos has built in other states, which are much smaller.
“This will be a hardened structure to withstand virtually anything that Mother Nature or mankind can throw it,” Vicino said. The Vivos Kansas shelter spans 135 acres of land, for a total of 2.25 million square feet located 135 feet below the top of a grassy hill. It was dug out in the late 1880s for limestone mining and later taken over by the U.S. government later and used store munitions, food and equipment.
“It was filled with Hummers, and they pulled them out, cleaned the place up and put it up for auction,” Vicino said. He bought it for a little over half a million dollars and plans to put about $25 million into renovations.
A shelter to enjoy
The Kansas shelter will be more than just an underground bunker, however. This shelter will be more like a resort, if Vicino's dream comes to fruition. His renderings include all the amenities you may find in a five-star resort or cruise line — spas, pools, restaurants, educational and sports activities such as golf, gym, horseback riding, bowling, theaters and skate parks. Vicino is even adding a full hospital.
“It's a dream come true. It couldn't be more perfect. We didn't choose Atchison, Atchison chose us.” Vicino said. His other shelters are plush and well-appointed but don't come along with the amenities the Vivos Kansas shelter will.
Because land is relatively inexpensive in Kansas compared to the locations of other Vivos shelters, Vicino said he'll be able to sell this bunker space cheaper.
Also, because of the overabundance of space at the Kansas shelter, and the fact that the entrance is at ground level, much of the living space will be in the form of RV parking spots.
To buy an RV space costs $5,000 per person who will be staying in the RV, so a family of four can purchase a spot for $20,000. Owners are welcome to visit the shelter anytime to vacation, enjoy the amenities or just to get away anytime they please, Vicino said.
In comparison, Vivos' Indiana shelter is 10,000 square feet and accommodates 80 people. Space there costs more than eight times the price of Vivos' Kansas space.