Disaster preppers, survivalists, hunting enthusiasts and organic gardeners have been gathering annually in Kansas City, Missouri, for the past three years for the RK Prepper Kansas City Survival Expo & Gun Show.
It invites attendees to gain skills in emergency preparedness and offers a gun exhibition. The organizers said there were some 3,000 people and about 110 exhibitors at this year’s event, which was held in September.
The organizers told ABC News that recent news coverage of disasters, such as the hurricanes and wildfires that devastated parts of the country, seem to be encouraging more people to attend.
This year the organizers have held or have planned 17 shows across the country — an increase from five in 2015.
Below are what some attendees of the Kansas City show had to say.
Mark Kemp, Provo, Utah
An economic collapse is coming.
This is the belief of Mark Kemp, a disaster prepper from Provo, Utah, who has spent 15 years building independent food resources.
He expresses concern about the possibility of losing food security in the future. “FEMA is going to come and take all our guns and food storage because that’s how they are going to get you take the RFID chip,” he says. “I’m not taking the chip.”
The VeriChip, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2004, is an injectable microchip that use radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. It was originally intended to provide easy access to patients’ medical records and is now also used for access control and security. The chip is the size of a grain of rice and can be placed between a thumb and forefinger.
He refers to this identification chip of the future as the biblical “sign of the beast.”
Kemp is preparing to survive this future onslaught and is sharing his knowledge.
“I teach classes to try and get everyone to realize that hard times are coming. There are millions of people that we are going to need to feed in this country.”
Kemp tells ABC News that he has seed packs buried on his land, each with the potential to grow nearly 150,000 pounds of produce in 90 days.
He has plans to build several underground greenhouses.
Norman “Storm” Cantwell, Kansas City, Missouri
“I died about 28 years ago and had an after-death experience,” claims Norman Cantwell, a martial arts and healing instructor from Kansas City.
Storm says this experience convinced him that God is real.
A self-proclaimed Christian, he believes that people need to have martial arts training as doomsday approaches.
“I don’t want to hurt anybody, but I teach other people how to be able to protect the people they care about,” he says.
Cantwell theorizes that once food resources are depleted, everybody will turn on one another as they try to meet their needs, making self-defense knowledge key to survival.
Tom and Kris Marvel, Kansas City, Missouri
Tom and Kris Marvel, a couple from Kansas City, Missouri, are not taking any chances when it comes to safeguarding their drinking water.
The two have been on the hunt for a 5 gallon filter with the capacity to purify over 100 gallons of water quickly. “If the water in the city went bad, we can drain it out of the scummy algae pond,” Kris Marvel says.
Food security is just as important for these preppers. They say they have a steady supply of fruits and vegetables and are well stocked with eggs from their chicken.
Dawn Scarborough, 56, Blue Springs, Missouri
What would happen during an electromagnetic pulse attack?
This is the question that prompted Dawn Scarborough to prepare for survival in case she finds herself in one.
Powerful electronic bombs, or e-bombs, can disable electrical equipment by creating a huge burst of electrical energy in the atmosphere. That sudden release of energy results in an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP.
The destructive nature of an EMP was discovered during early U.S. nuclear weapon testing.
Some defense and security experts doubt the likelihood of an EMP attack. For one, devices can be protected or hardened against an EMP by using Faraday cages — metal structures that intercept and redirect excessive EMP energy into the ground like a lightning rod. Experts also doubt the effectiveness of conventional EMP weapons, since they have to be placed very close to civilian targets such as telephone centers.
Scarborough is preparing an “every day carry bag” that she will keep in her car. “If you are out driving and an EMP occurs, your car just stops,” she says, emphasizing that she will need to be able to survive a few days in her car.
Her bag will contain a change of clothes, a stove, a flashlight and other survival gear.
Mike Nocks, 53, Hartville, Missouri
You have to think about medicine.
That’s the advice from Mike Nocks, who is focused on preparing for the possibility of a breakdown in society.
“If things go bad, you are not going to have Walmart or Walgreens to go to,” he says. “You have to be able to grow your own medicinal herbs.”
Nocks points out that growing peppermint for headaches and mullein for earaches is a good place to start.
Craig Douglas, 55, the Midwest
Emergency preparedness requires more than just gas masks.
Craig Douglas tells ABC News that they are not very useful in the event of a biological hazard unless people have been warned of an impending attack.
Douglas agrees that food, water and shelter are crucial for survival, and he advises people to prepare for sanitation problems in case of a major destructive event.
Although he is a preparing for survival in times of difficulty, he says, “I can see why people who don’t prep can think the preppers are crazy because nothing has ever happened, but it happens all over the world.”
He added, “Americans are getting kind of complacent.”
Chuck Cook, 49, West Plains, Missouri
Knowledge is the best asset for survival with limited resources in a disaster.
Chuck Cook emphasizes the need for proper gun training. He theorizes that after a disaster, people might need to hunt to feed their families and protect themselves.
“I’m able to go out and take an animal,” he says. “If it’s me feeding my family versus someone trying to take that from me, I’m going to protect myself and my family.”
Kathy Pierce, 58, Independence, Missouri
Kathy Pierce is a little fearful of what may happen.
“Nowadays, with the storms we have and the political climate, we need to be prepared for what may come in the future,” she tells ABC News. “With what’s going on with America and some of the other countries in the world, we may be stuck with no electricity because of terrorists.”
She credits her grandfather and the church she attends for encouraging her to stock up in readiness for disaster situations
Pierce says she has stocked up on supplies for both her and her cats. “We have enough food and water to survive for a couple of weeks without having to wait for the government to come help.”
John Salmon, 56; Gladis Gutierrez, 47; Jamely Montagner, 14; and Oliver Montagner, 12
John Salmon and Gladis Gutierrez like to keep bags packed with supplies in case they have to hit the road after a disaster. The two are preparing their children, Jamely and Oliver Montagner, for survival.
“I feel kind of prepared. I know how to shoot a gun, Oliver says. “I like to have guns in the house. In case something happens, you’re ready.”