Megan Lynch (@MLynchOnAir)

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – As you’ve heard this week on KMOX, it’s entirely possible that our country and region could suffer catastrophic natural disasters, cyber hacks or terror attacks. Many families are preparing enough to get by for a few days.

Some groups fear a total collapse.

As we conclude this week’s series, Megan Lynch tells us there are other people who appear to believe the government could be the worst threat of all.

They’re all Awaiting Armageddon.

“If you think back to civil defense in the 1950s … the idea that you were prepared or built a bunker in your backyard meant that you were a good citizen. You were a prepared citizen. You were gonna help save America,” says Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville professor Chad Huddleston.

On the campus of SIU-Edwardsville, Huddleston is working to understand why more people are devoting time and resources to preparedness.

First: The “Preppers”

“I would say that most of them are like your average middle-class white guy,” Huddleston says.

He calls “preppers” realistic and practical, with a desire to help their neighbors.

On the other end of the spectrum, Huddleston classifies some as “survivalists.” They often operate from religious ideologies and their websites reference superiority.

“They talk about sheople – average citizens that aren’t prepared and aren’t ready and don’t have this ideology that, when the apocalypse comes, they’ll be the slaves basically,” Huddleston says.

Survivalists prepare, not to assist the government, but because of suspicion about the government.

“Not only is the government not going to help you, but they’re going to come take your guns,” Huddleston says.

They have theories that the government will round up anyone who’s perceived as dangerous and stick them in camps.

Is it possible that what was considered a fringe and extreme philosophy, is becoming more mainstream?

Huddleston tells KMOX since the last presidential election, mistrust of our nation’s leaders is more apparent.

“Even people that are on the more survivalist militia side, they’re worried too.”

Huddleston points to evidence that more Americans are concerned about protecting freedoms.

“That’s why this last Black Friday was the largest day of gun sales in the past 20 years,” Huddleston says. “I know people that when Obama got elected and he was going to come and take their guns, they went and bought so-called “lifetime supplies” of ammunition — 10,000 rounds of ammunition plus, but this beat it.”

Look online and you’ll find schools across Missouri and Illinois that train people on everything from primitive wilderness skills to how to stay alive in an urban war zone with nothing but a survival knife.

Prepper and survival boards are full of messages from people seeking like-minded individuals who want to band together.

“You’ve got to be able to survive as a group, or as a family for at least six months. We tell people six months to a year,” Matt Canovi says.

With a military and law enforcement background, Matt Canovi believes part of practical preparation is hardening the security in your home – not just getting weapons, but also training.

“You have to be able to defend yourself and protect what you’ve got, because law enforcement won’t be able to,” he says.

While Canovi himself seems to be far more worried about a collapse of government than a collapse of rights, he tells KMOX it’s not a bad idea to stay off of everyone’s radar.

“When you’re prepared, you don’t want anybody to know your prepared,” Canovi says.

When asked about people who want to go “off-grid,” he says there are legal means for obtaining weapons and resources that don’t leave a paper trail.

“I’ve taken steps to be prepared for those things that might happen, and that gives me peace of mind.”

Do you have peace of mind?

“What I always like to tell people is, yes, be concerned, but don’t panic,” says Nick Gragnani, STARRS executive director.

Do you believe you’ll be long gone before our society falls?

“You’re much more likely to be hit by a car than a terrorist, so wear your seat belt and don’t text, rather than holing up in your house with sandbags around it,” says Dr. Alexander Garza, Chief Medical Officer of SSM Health – St. Louis.

Are you ready — Awaiting Armageddon — just in case?

“To me, it just makes sense to have the rest of your life insured by knowing that you have enough food water and other supplies to get by if there’s some kind of disaster,” says Mike Slack, preparedness event organizer.

CLICK HERE to read and listen to KMOX’s Awaiting Armageddon series, in its entirety!

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