News 12 Special Assignment: 'Prepper' movement gaining momentum in the CSRA


The prepper movement is finding momentum in the CSRA. (WRDW-TV / May 18, 2012)

News 12 at 11 o' clock / Thursday, May 17, 2012

AIKEN, S.C. -- Natural disasters, government collapse, even nuclear warfare. Would you be ready if one of these disasters strikes? A growing number of people are.

They call themselves "preppers," and they say it's all about being prepared for whatever is ahead.

Claude O'Donovan is part of the prepper movement, and he showed News 12's Laura Warren around his home.

"I probably have 250 pounds of beans, maybe 250 pounds of rice," he said.

O' Donovan is stocking up and preparing for whatever may be around the corner.

"We want to be ready for anything that happens. It could be a natural event, it could be an economic event, we could be attacked. I mean, there's a lot of different things that could happen," he said.

O' Donovan and his wife are among a growing group across the country who call themselves "preppers."

"We're now putting the dots together and have been for the last six months or so, about all of the potential -- the extreme debt that our country is in, what's happening in Europe, the European Union is next to collapsing. If it collapses, they're our biggest customer for exports -- what happens to us? We collapse," he explained.

And the O' Donovans aren't the only ones preparing for the worst. The movement has made it to Aiken.

O'Donovan recently led a workshop for preppers that had an overwhelming response.

"We had over 120 people show up, and they weren't fringies, they weren't strange people, they were top-level politicians, business people, very successful business people, all putting the dots together and they wanted to learn more," he said.

At the workshop, fellow preppers learned new strategies and skills to take home, like water conservation.

"Thousands of gallons of rain water come off your roof, monthly," said O'Donovan, and he harvests most of that run-off for drinking water.

The workshop connected preppers all over Aiken, making their network stronger.

"We've developed a network, and that was our goal, to develop a network of like-minded people who are preparing, that we can call on to coordinate our efforts, we can train, we can learn lots of things," O'Donovan said.

Dennis Tomosko, who was also at the workshop, has been prepping for years.

"I would say that within the next 10 years we will have gone into a time where all of these preparations will be needed," he said.

He's been planting fruits and vegetables, stocking up on groceries and even buying alternative energy sources.

"Watch the stock market, watch the weather reports, watch the news reports. Things are happening in this world," he said.

The O'Donovans have learned the best way to preserve, well, just about anything.

Mrs. O'Donovan showed News 12's Laura Warren how she vacuum seals groceries.

"I'm resealing the popcorn and putting two oxygenators and a bay leaf. Bay leaf will repel bugs and oxygenators will keep it safe for a long period of time," she said.

But prepping is about more than just storing up groceries; it's about being prepared for anything, even a nuclear event.

"If there was some sort of a nuclear event, we would immediately start taking potassium iodide. It replaces and puts a good amount of iodine in your thyroid, protecting you from radiation," O' Donovan said.

Most preppers agree the best way to predict and prepare for the future is to look at the past.

"Egypt, you go to Rome, you see all the ruins. Those civilizations all thrived at one time," Tomosko said.

For more information on the prepper movement in Aiken, go to

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