NPR logo Bomb Shelters -- Back In Vogue?

Bomb Shelters — Back In Vogue?


Bomb shelters are back.  At least in newsprint.  USA Today recently reported that the 1950's-era basic survival structures have been updated with a housing boom makeover with prices from $400,000 to more than $40 million.  And business is booming.

Radius Engineering in Terrell, Texas, has built underground shelters for more than three decades, and business has never been better, says Walton McCarthy, company president.
The company sells fiberglass shelters that can accommodate 10 to 2,000 adults to live underground for one to five years with power, food, water and filtered air, McCarthy says.
The shelters range from $400,000 to a $41 million facility Radius built and installed underground that is suitable for 750 people, McCarthy says. He declined to disclose the client or location of the shelter.


If that price tag is too steep, creative entrepreneurs are also offering space in larger shelters for $25,000 to $50,000 per person.  

Critics complain that shelters are unnecessary and are being marketed with fear.  

Bomb shelters are more than expensive bunkers in our culture. They're symbols.  And as such, they're open for interpretation.  

Amy Goldman Koss described an ongoing debate over shelters in an op-ed in today's Los Angeles Times.  Her house came with no air conditioning and no pool but fully equipped with a sturdy bomb shelter, installed by an anesthesiologist who previously owned the house.  

Whenever the subject of our bomb shelter comes up, I insist that the anesthesiologist was deeply paranoid and pessimistic. But my husband disagrees. He thinks our shelter is a symbol of optimism, because it suggests the anesthesiologist believed he could protect himself and his family, and live to see another day.

Given a choice between facing radioactive fallout and being safely ensconced in the bomb shelter, though, I think I'd choose fallout.

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