National Geographic Society

  • Connect:

Meet the Preppers: Wilma and Gary Bryant

Gary Bryant helps his wife, Wilma Bryant slaughter her first chicken.

Gary Bryant helps his wife, Wilma Bryant slaughter her first chicken. (View larger version)

Photograph by National Geographic Channel


"We're prepping for daily F-5 tornadoes."

Wilma, a born city girl turned country girl recently moved from Dallas, Texas to an off grid location in Drury, Missouri with her husband Gary, her daughter and granddaughter. They are all preparing for an F5 hurricane that will end the world, as we know it. Wilma has canned and dehydrated at least 6 months of food and constantly cares for her garden and livestock on their 24 acres of land. Wilma and Gary have hired explosive contractors to blow up some land on their property so they can begin building their underground shelter. The entire family plans to retreat underground when a deadly hurricane strikes there home.

The Bryants live on a beautiful 20 acre farm in southern Missouri. On the surface, everything seems joyous; this is because of the family’s infectious warmth. From the moment we arrive to our last shot, the Bryants are cracking jokes and smiling from ear to ear. This is an example of the ambivalence that can be tied to prepping: to live in fear of the unknown, but be happy for the moment.

It’s true that disasters happen everyday and people die because they’re not equipped to handle the devastation. Being more prepared is a way to combat the unknown. Being happy is a way to stay positive through uncertainty.

The Bryants are preparing for a world of accelerated climate change where F5 tornados will be an everyday occurrence. Their plan is to construct an underground bunker that will keep them safe from this world. If this world does come to fruition, the Bryants will be smiling as best they know how; cheering the world up, even as it ends.