Drew Miller is certain the end of the world as we know it is imminent. And he will not be left unprepared for it.
“If you talk to experts, they'll tell you we're overdue for a natural pandemic,” he said. “It has nothing to do with sensing, it has nothing to do with feeling, it has nothing to do with 'Ooh, I'm scared that there might be something in the next six months.' It's just a rational reaction to human behavior and what happens.”
Miller’s brainchild, Fortitude Ranch, is a network of survival facilities designed to outlast any disaster and long-term loss of law and order. That’s the plan, at least.
Miller is a hardcore doomsday prepper. He believes that people should not only be concerned with the state of the world, but also prepared for the complete collapse of it.
As of now, one location — somewhere in the woodlands of West Virginia — is complete. Another is well on its way in Southern Colorado. The ranch here, like its sister site across the country, is in a “confidential location.” Miller would only disclose that it is somewhere west of Colorado Springs near the Pike National Forest.
Fortitude Ranch is in the early stages of construction, but once it’s complete, the main compound will be up against a mountain surrounded by trees and facing an open field. It will come complete with underground bunkers, solar panels and enough supplies to last 500 people for a year. It will be encased by a concrete wall and nine guard towers that overlook the entire area.
Miller believes that during disasters, community members will have to defend themselves from marauders — a claim that's iffy at best. The National Center for Biotechnological Information has done extensive research on disaster aftermath, and found that epidemics and plague are unlikely. While it also showed that isolated cases of looting and rioting do occur, most people respond in a positive and generous manner.
Still, Miller used the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the deadliest hurricane since 1900 and the U.S.’s costliest natural disaster, as an example of what he believes will occur.
“That was a really, really mild disaster as things go, completely predictable, and yet they had looting, policemen deserting duty, all kinds of things,” he said. “I'm just saying human nature, people are going figure out that in bad situations they need to take care of themselves and their family first and they will.”
One of the main peacetime attractions Fortitude Ranch boasts about online is the ability to shoot at each ranch’s gun range free of charge. All staff will be equipped with weapons they know how to use, Miller said. Each lodging unit is also equipped with a firearm.
Miller believes in the doomsday prep cause enough to initially pay for the venture out-of-pocket. Now, with 100 members each contributing a down payment and quarterly dues that amount to $1,000 per year, he has been able to expand.
Members aren’t just paying for access to survival bunkers. Above ground are B&B-style log cabins where members can vacation during the good times. Miller is shopping for land in Wisconsin for a third site. If demand and dollars continue to flow, the plan is to “just keep expanding a couple, one or two a year,” for an end goal of 12 ranches across the country.