Web Exclusive: "Preppers" in Texas ready when disaster strikes

(CBS/KEYE) - Are you prepared is disaster strikes? Emergency situations like the explosion in West, the Boston Marathon bombings and hurricanes that devastate entire regions can cause mass chaos. 

So what would you do if a disaster like West strikes? More people are going beyond the recommended 72 hour "emergency" kit.  In Central Texas, there's a growing number of people known as "preppers," who are ready for anything.

"Every time we have one of these events, it's a reminder that we all need to be prepared," says Paul Martin, a Prepper.

If disaster strikes, will you be stuck waiting for help? We could probably go close to a year if we had to," says Paul Martin.

Paul Martin is a suburban "prepper." "When you see those shows that talk about prepping the image it conjures up is that you have to remove yourself from where you are and move out into the country," says Martin.

The complete opposite of what most people expect. He lives in an upper-middle class Austin neighborhood.  "So what we have here is 5 & 6 gallon buckets of various types of food," says Martin.

It's what's on the inside that makes all the difference. A solar panel to recharge batteries, a solar oven and a rain water collection system.  That's in addition to radio's, walkie talkies and protection. .

Martin says, "The reality is, in an emergency, the law enforcement folks who do a great job of protecting us may not be able to get here in time."

According to the American Preppers network a 'prepper' is a person who: "takes steps to mitigate the long lasting effect of a severe impact on their world."

Prepping became a passion for Paul after hurricane Andrew hit in August of 1992.

"For the next 17-days I had no electricity in my apartment in Miami in August, so it was really hot and we had to boil the water in order to drink it. From that point forward I said I'm never going to put myself or my family in that type of situation again," says Martin.

According to a study by the National Geographic Channel, 29 percent of people surveyed in southern states know at least one person preparing for a possible catastrophe.

Local army surplus stores have become the go-to place for preppers.

Carmen Cortinas, who owns Army Surplus & More in Round Rock, says, "I sell a lot of backpacks, gas masks, I have a couple of chemical suits that I sold to a customer."

She says demand for prepping is growing, and as a result, inventory is changing.

"I'm sure there's a lot of people not saying their preppers, but they are," says Cortinas.

"When someone is prepared that is one less person that has to rely on the government or charitable organizations to make it through the crisis and one more person who can assist others," Martin says. And that's one more person who can assist others.

According to the National Geographic Channel, 78% of people who live in Southern states have done at least one thing to prepare for a possible catastrophe.


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