Mark Rinke isn’t planning for the end of the world, but if it happens, he’s ready.
As a prepper, the Olathe man says everyone has their own idea of The End of The World as We Know It, or TEOTWAKI.
“The phrase is used for several things,” Rinke said. “…It could be the end of your world as you know it. That could mean getting laid off. We’ve had a couple of people get laid off and they used their food storage supplies so they didn’t have to buy groceries while they looked for work.”
Rinke is a member of the Kansas City Area Preppers. The group meets once a month to share ideas on how to cope in the event of an emergency.
Rinke joined the group about a year ago.
“We went from 35 members to about 340 core members,” Rinke said.
The monthly meeting includes guest speakers and training in how to survive the unthinkable. For example, members have learned about dehydrating food and personal defense at previous meetings.
Twice a year, members of the group host bug-out campouts. During the camping trips, campers are only allowed to bring their “bug out” bags, or survivalist bags they can carry on their backs to survive for 72 hours. They host the camps during the coldest part of winter and the hottest part of summer.
“It’s not exactly pleasant,” Rinke said. “It’s kind of a test your gear in the worst circumstances possible kind of thing.”
And now, they’re bringing their knowledge and experience to Gardner for a one-day event at the Johnson County Fairgrounds. The Kansas City Area Prepardness Expo will be run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the fairgrounds on July 20.
Although Rinke has only belonged to the group for a little over a year, he said he and his family have always been more prepared than others around them. He recalls the ice storm in Kansas City in 2002. In the storm’s aftermath, thousands of people were without power, some for up to a month.
“(My family) were the only ones who had a way to keep warm and had food on hand,” Rinke said. “We were the only ones in our neighborhood who had a way to heat our house and had supplies… The ability to take warm showers was a plus.”
With the emergence of shows like National Geographic’s “Doomsday Preppers,” experts estimate there may be as many as 3 million Americans making detailed plans for the end of the world as we know it.
On each episode of the show, producers document preppers as they prepare for a specific world-ending event. For example, one family may be prepping for a super volcano or an electro-magnetic pulse that shuts down earth’s power grids.
Rinke said most preppers aren’t making plans for anything that specific.
“Most people are worried about what happens when a tornado comes, or what happens when an ice storm comes,” he explained. “Obviously what most people in the group are looking for is preparedness or homesteading.”
The things preppers are learning weren’t considered crazy a generation ago, he explained.
“A hundred years ago, everyone canned their own food and grew their own food,” Rinke said. “It wasn’t until we started getting this grocery-store-kind-of-mentality that people who started doing this kind of thing were considered crazy.”
But, there’s an added bonus to being prepared for a tornado or natural disaster. Preparing for that kind of an event also prepares people for a mass TEOTWAWKI event.
For Rinke, the most likely cause of societal breakdown is the collapse of the U.S. dollar. Quantative easing, or pouring newly-minted currency into the U.S. financial system, is devaluing the dollar, he explained. And other countries, like China and India are now reluctant to trade in U.S. currency.
“When no one will take it, (the dollar) will collapse. Can we do things to reverse that? Maybe. But if it collapses tomorrow, I’m ready,” he said. “I’m just being a good Boy Scout by being prepared.”
There is no cost to attend the expo on July 20.
“We’re not trying to make money on it,” Rinke said. “We’re just trying to share information.”
The event will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 20. There will be a number of lectures and classes on things like water purification, gold and silver and self defense as well as a variety of vendors providing information for things like long-term food storage and survival.
For more information about the event including a schedule, visit the expo’s Facebook page. Search for “Kansas City area Preparedness Expo.”