The summer of 1996 was a rough season for eastern North Carolina. Hurricane Bertha roared ashore as a Category 2 storm in July, and a soggy month later Hurricane Fran hit even harder as a Category 3 storm. I was with my girlfriend (now wife) and saw 100-year-old oaks drop all around us, crushing cars and apartment buildings. We were without power for most of a week. It left an impression.
We’d graduated and moved to Durham, NC, survived the hysteria of the Y2K scare, and had no reason to expect much of consequence when the local weather told us there was going to be “a couple of inches” of snow the evening of January 24, 2000. When it finally stopped falling the next day, we had 22 inches on our back porch, and I had a very pregnant wife in her third trimester. For most of the next week, we were prisoners in our home.
Shortly after our daughter was born I pursued an opportunity in New York. We were in New Windsor, near Stewart Airport, when American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 almost collided overhead. I’ve always thought it would have been better if they had. Shortly afterward, they smashed into the World Trade Center towers and changed our world.
I relate all this merely to establish that my own life experiences have made me very aware of the fact that catastrophic disasters, both man-made and natural, can happen at any time, and anywhere, to anyone. Because of these experiences, I’m sympathetic to the concept of disaster preparation, or “prepping” as a form of life insurance for those you love.
And then there is Doomsday Preppers, the National Geographic Channel hit that returned this week with the premiere episode of its second season (which, bizarrely, is the second episode … don’t ask why). For those of you unfamiliar with the show, I’d describe it as the paranoid version of MTV’s Jersey Shore with dumber livestock.
Preppers is in the very loosest sense “reality television,” in that those people starring in the show aren’t actors, but the scenarios and editing are both contrived and far-fetched, or at least you hope they are. Last season was a train wreck, and if last night’s premiere (second episode?) was an omen of things to come, we can expect more of it this season.
The format of the show breaks an hour-long program into segments focusing on three different sets of preppers, each preparing for some sort of catastrophe.
Last night’s episode was appropriately titled “Am I nuts or are you?” The characters featured were much what you would expect from the title.