Survivalists prepare for the year 2000 |

Survivalists prepare for the year 2000

Rick Chandler

T. Allen Hoover has heard your concerns about the potential Y2K disaster. He would like to help. He feels your pain.

He sells body armor.

“The Y2K threat is real,” said Hoover, a former cop who now owns his own business, Hoover Preparedness Supply, in Boise, Idaho. “When systems begin to fail, the first to be impacted will be the people who can’t afford to stockpile supplies.

“All it takes is some dumb kid with an earring and his cap on backwards to ruin your whole day.”

Hoover is a San Francisco native who fled the Bay Area due to what he termed as California’s unhealthy climate – specifically, he says, escalating crime and increasing government intrusion.

So, five years ago, he quite literally headed toward greener pastures. Hoover is what could be termed as the ultimate Y2K survivalist. He lives in the middle of nowhere and sells body armor, wood-burning stoves and camping gear.

If trouble comes, he’s ready for it.

“I got into the Y2K business quite by accident,” Hoover said. “I’m not one of those wild-eyed guys wearing camouflage. When I lived in San Francisco, I wasn’t selling many vests at all. But lately, the people have come to me.”

The majority of Hoover’s business revolves around the sale and trade of bullet-proof vests. He sells new vests to police departments throughout the country, and takes their old vests in trade. He then re-sells the old vests (price: about $300 each) to a variety of people and agencies, from security guards to emergency medical personnel.

“Five years ago, I would sell maybe 15 vests in a month,” said Hoover. “Most of those I sold at trade shows. But now, the phone won’t stop ringing. I can’t keep up with the demand.”

About a year ago, a funny thing began happening in the body armor business. Demand went skyrocketing.

Blame the Y2K survival craze – a self-fulfilling prophecy by a segment of the population who would rather play it safe by arming itself to the teeth against the Millennium Bug.

“I sell vests to lawyers, investment bankers, private investigators, and even families,” Hoover said. “It makes perfect sense to me. When the Rodney King verdict came down, it only took about 40 minutes for the first brick to fly through a window. That’s the nature of people.

“Look at the Denver Broncos, after the Super Bowl. People rioted, and they won.”

So just imagine, say the survivalists, what will happen if our team – the human race – loses on Jan. 1, 2000.

Suffice it to say we won’t be going to Disneyland.

“We live in a Disneyland for dummies, and it’s about to shut down,” said Kurt Saxon, a popular Y2K survivalist guru who lives in Alpena, Mo., a sleepy community of about 500.

Saxon runs one of the growing number of survivalist Web sites, “Kurt Saxon’s Self-Sufficiency Web Pages,” which is a sort of Internet shopping mall and sounding board. Here one can indulge a variety of Y2K topics, among them do-it-yourself projects (“Raising Catfish in a Barrel”) and survival supplies (“Corn and Beans, the Wonder Foods.”)

The site can be found through one of several survival Web Rings on the Internet – Web site portals which lead users to hundreds of similar sites.

“We have become so dependent on computers, by necessity, that we are now in a bad situation,” said Hoover, a former journalist who packed it all up several years ago and found a small town to live in. “But I don’t really care. If society goes down like a stone, I’m just going to keep doing my thing and have a lot of laughs.”

Most of the survivalists on the Web have one thing in common: the sound of a cash register. Most seem eager to cash in on the public’s mounting fear of a digital apocalypse.

“Virtually every one of these people has an ax to grind,” said Tom Oleson, a Y2K probability researcher at International Data Institute in Framingham, Mass. “There is money to be made on the year 2000, and all one has to do to confirm this is to take a look on the Internet.”

Oleson has authored several papers on Y2K, and has served in technical advisory capacities for many state and federal agencies, as well as with private corporations.

“I think we are all concerned about potential Y2K problems,” he said. “But many of these survivalists have different agendas. We call them ‘Chicken Littles.’ They are the most dangerous of all, because they cause the public to become apoplectic.”

But just to play it safe, perhaps you should log on to the “Safe Havens” Web site (, which offers “Y2K Ranches” in Arizona. Photos available.

Yes, there are actually people who are picking up stakes and heading to the hills to avoid a potential Y2K meltdown.

Should you and your family also consider “bugging out?”

Let’s ask Frugal Squirrel, of the “Frugal Squirrel Home Page for Survivalists, Patriots and Gun Owners” ( On this page, readers can learn about “Edible and Medicinal Plants,” “Survival Weapons,” and “U.S. Army Weapons Marksmanship.”

Oh yes, and there’s also an audio player, where computer users can push a button and hear a musical selection from Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

OK, this may be surviving, but do you call this living?

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