The Current

'Prepper' movement braces for the worst after U.S. election

"Preppers" are the latest incarnation of the U.S. survivalist movement. They're moving into remote, rural areas to set up safe havens against global warming and some are convinced that after the U.S. election this year, society will come unglued.

American Redoubt Property tour

CBC News

4 years ago
A tour of an off grid property for sale in Idaho 5:51

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If the polls are to be believed, Hillary Clinton seems likely to win on November 8 — a reality that doesn't sit well with the "Prepper" movement.

For preppers, a Trump loss signifies a broken political system beyond repair and the possibility has triggered a sense of impending doom — giving birth to the American Redoubt.  
Pastor Warren Campbell inside his makeshift church connected to his army surplus store in northern Idaho. (Erin Collins/CBC)

The American Redoubt is made up of the states of Idaho, Wyoming, Montana and the eastern parts of Washington and Oregon. It's a place where mostly conservative, mostly Christian Americans, worried about the future, are encouraged to move. 

"The American Redoubt is a stronghold itself. It's the last bastion for God, country, liberty, constitutions, the Second Amendment and home schooling," says Pastor Warren Campbell.

Campbell moved his family from California about a year and a half ago, in part, because he believes the U.S. economy is on the verge of collapse, but also to focus more on God and to have less government in his life.

Campbell's army surplus store located just outside Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, also serves as a place of worship where people come to listen to his unique take on Christian theology.

He worries if Trump loses the election, the Democrats will erode religious freedoms and the Second Amendment. He also anticipates a lot more neighbours.

"I think we'll see a great influx of people… multiplying by the thousands, coming here for a place of safety and refuge," says Campbell.

Chris Walsh sits in the vintage plane that he uses to scout properties in the American Redoubt. (Erin Collins/CBC)
Chris Walsh is a real estate agent who specializes in helping people relocate to the American Redoubt. In the documentary, Hope for the best — prepare for the worst, he tells CBC's Erin Collins preppers are looking to be around people that are more like-minded.
A sign outside an off grid property for sale in northern Idaho. (Erin Collins/CBC)

"They're big fans of the Second Amendment. They want their gun rights. They have guns but they don't necessarily carry them on their person every day," says Walsh.

"But the idea is that they want to be someplace that's more civil."

Many of the properties Walsh shows are difficult to reach. He uses his 1954 Beachwood Bonanza plane to scout and show remote properties to his clients.  Privacy and seclusion are big selling points in this market.

Walsh says one of the primary reasons preppers are fleeing — they worry about a U.S. financial collapse.

It's a concern that Glen Martin says is a big priority on his mind.

"It's going to give. It's not a question of if, it's a question of when."

Martin lives off the grid with his fiance Jean Olson in a small red-frame cabin on 10 acres of lush northern forest nestled in the hills of Bonner County, Idaho.

Glen Martin chops wood outside his fiance's off grid cabin in northern Idaho. (Erin Collins/CBC)

"The idea that a collapse could be in front of us, and you know what's going to happen with the grocery stores, our chain of supply?" says Martin.

"Living in a more self-sufficient lifestyle you prepare for these situations… you know, you stock up a little bit on food, or you have food you're growing."

Martin isn't just preparing for the future, he's selling others to do the same in running

As for the coming election, Martin's fiancee Jean Olson is pulling for Clinton but no matter who wins she doubts more people will be moving to her neck of the woods.

"I think people are going to forget about it two weeks after it's done."

"Americans have short-term memory. "

Listen to the full documentary.

The documentary, Hope for the best — prepare for the worst, was produced by Erin Collins and documentary editor Josh Bloch.