Doomsday Preppers: Frank & Elaine Woodworth

Our last preppers on this episode are Frank and Elaine Woodworth, of Maine.
As in the case of the seeming majority of folks we’ve seen this season, Frank is Preparing For Economic Collapse, *slam bunker door*.
frankwoodworthAs usually happens when a segment wastes time on sensationalist appeals to the lowest common denominator instead of letting the subject discuss their issue, I don’t a whole lot to say about this couple.
Frank’s big kick is the idea of physical fitness as a survival tool – it’s survival of the fittest, guys! To accomplish this, he and his wife train with the ‘Irish Hand Grenade’, MMA fighter Marcus Davis. This is a good way to kill a few minutes watching an older fellow get knocked around the octagon.

So, when the stars proclaim the time has come (or however an economic collapse is announced these days), Frank and Elaine plan to hop in their bush plane and fly into the north woods to their hidden bunker. Now, unlike Bryan Smith from a few weeks back—whose massive, $150,000 Atlas bunker boasted all the comforts of civilized life—the Woodworth’s $24,000 bunker is apparently only 140 square feet. If that seems kind of small, that’s because it is. For a frame of reference, let’s remember that H. D. Thoreau’s one-man cabin at Walden was 150 square feet! So, with that little space, there’s really not much room to do anything besides sleep and do push-ups on the side of the bed. Hope they stocked up on reading material.

Because they are concerned about being able to reach their bunker, Frank makes a backup one (it’s what he does) to bury nearer their home. And because he seems to think that should they be discovered by marauding vandals, said raiders would attempt to breach the bunker by digging down and throwing some dynamite under it, that’s exactly what he tests. So before the thing gets buried, they wedge a few sticks underneath and set them off. Now, I’m by no means a demolition expert, but I seem to remember reading something about how a successful charge needs something to direct the explosion where you want it—likesay, if you’re going to blow up a parking garage, you don’t just duct-tape dynamite to the support columns and call it a day, you surround the dynamite with sandbags or something. Like I said, I’m no expert, but the way they do it seems kind of unscientific and ‘just for the lulz’.

Frank also seems to think that “America would be safer if more people had bunkers”, because there would be “less people out trying to steal food.” Well of course he’s going to say that – he builds bunkers! And for a very short-term disaster like a hurricane or tornado, maybe that’s true; if everybody had a well-stocked bunker off which they could live when things suddenly go south, then yes, people wouldn’t need to go looting. But a bunker is only ever a short-term solution. Unless you’re prepared to recycle water and grow crops with piped-in sunlight and your own humanure, you’re eventually going to have to come up for air.
Basically, it all comes down to this: a bunker isn’t going to help you survive the scenario that we never hear preppers talk about: the ongoing, Long Emergency-type slow failure of our unsustainable civilizational experiment we’re currently seeing across the globe. As overpopulation and climate change continue to ramp up, weather patterns get more extreme, our corrupted monocultural food industry becomes less productive, and people become more desperate and violent. I’ve never been one to deal with symptoms—I prefer to focus on the root of problems. And excluding celestial events that can’t be prevented, I can’t think of a disaster situation that doesn’t trace its birth to our 8,000-year-old culture of death and domination.

Anyway, the experts suggest that Elaine and Frank think about storing staples in their bunker, as well as consider a food resupply plan (because those food buckets aren’t going to refill themselves!) and joining a group of like-minded folks; on this last point, Frank stubbornly boasts that he doesn’t “play well with others.” Really? Dude, humans became human as social animals in communities; if you’re worried about survival, recognize that trying to fight your evolutionary heritage probably isn’t the best strategy.
In the end, the couple receive a score of 47 points for three months’ initial survival time – a new low.


3 responses to this post.

  1. I love reading your posts.

    I don’t think addressing the real issue, which is the long term survival issues, makes for good TV for NatGeo. The majority of the viewers most likely watch and laugh at how stupid prepping is, so the idea of addressing the long term issue would scare them too much. Who wants to buy that much Wise food products to live for 10 years or more?


    • Absolutely. By their very nature, long-term survival approaches must be actually sustainable, and would therefore require practitioners be inconvenienced and make real lifestyle changes to implement them.
      In other words, bearing little resemblance to most folks’ short-term plans, which as I’ve said before, are generally geared toward maintaining one’s current civilized standard of living for _just a little bit longer_.


  2. Posted by Miranda on 15 May, 2013 at 22:16

    Wow. Those are my cousins. I haven’t seen them in years. Wth happened? Smdh.


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