Luxury Underground Bunkers: Practical or Paranoid?
"We're seeing almost a quickening convergence of major disasters. It seems like every week there's a major one," he states over the phone. "Sooner or later, al-Qaida, they could get lucky. Or it could be a tornado or an economic collapse like we're seeing in Greece.
"There is a very good chance that in your lifetime you will need an underground shelter to survive."
So that's exactly what he's creating.
As the managing director of Vivos, a Del Mar, Calif.-based company that's building a network of luxury bunkers throughout the U.S., Vicino and his firm sell shares in 200-person underground pods designed to weather catastrophes ranging from volcanic eruptions to nuclear attack.
Available at five undisclosed locations, each bunker is approximately 20,000 square feet, buried 30 to 40 feet beneath the earth's surface -- far enough down to survive a 50-megaton blast within 10 miles.
The complex also includes enough provisions to keep shareholders fed, clothed and clean for up to a year. Families who fork over $50,000 per adult or $25,000 per child (pets are free) get approximately 100 square feet of space to themselves as well as access to common areas, supplies, medical and dental clinics, electricity and, well, survival.
Even without facing a full-on catastrophe, enrollees can retreat to their bunker any time they feel an imminent threat. However, the shareholders can't live or vacation there and they must replace any supplies they use.
"About one third of all current member-applicants are coming from the military, law enforcement, security and survival areas, so they're all pretty good at security and defense," explains Vicino. "Another third is coming from the medical field so many are nurses, EMTs, techs, doctors, psychiatrists. Those are the groups that see disaster and catastrophe all the time. They realize that there's a high risk and you can't rely on the government to protect you."
The mission of Vivos reaches far beyond the mere survival of the human race. Hoping to evolve into "a modern day Noah's Ark," the company also acts as a DNA depository for both animals and plants in case the natural world needs restarting as well.
Of course, there are a good number of scare tactics employed here. It's hard to deny that its terravivos.com website is anything but terra-fying with its videos of the effects of nuclear terrorism and the online countdown clock to the 2012 doomsday. Despite accusations of fear-mongering, Vicinio insists that the bunkers are simply there "just in case."
"We're not saying anything is going to happen in 2012 or 2029 -- when some calculate that an asteroid is going to make a pass at the Earth," Vicino notes. "It's a solution for survival of a catastrophe. How likely will I need it? I don't know. I can't predict, but I can prepare."
Here's a virtual tour of one of the bunkers: