John Cádiz Klemack
A company called The Vivos Group is building secret, underground bunkers where people can seek shelter during a catastrophic event. John Cádiz Klemack spoke to company founder Robert Vicino for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on May 9, 2012.
When it comes to Armageddon, there are plenty of prophets, psychics and pessimists who say the end is nigh -- and just in case, a Del Mar-based company is preparing for the worst.
"The whole world is at risk," Robert Vicino said. "It's just a question of when."
Vicino is the man behind Vivos, "the underground shelter network for long-term survival of future catastrophes."
NBC visited one of Vicino's shelters near Barstow on the condition we would not reveal its location.
The bunker is no longer on the "A" list, though, as water sourcing has forced Vicino to focus entirely on his Indiana location that he says is good to go.
"It's done. It's turnkey. I just got back from there and it's awesome," he said.
He would not allow NBC4 access to the interior of the Barstow location, but instead provided video of what he says is the facility, showing off plush chairs, televisions, automated doors, computers, microwaves, stoves and bathrooms.
Jason Hodge, who lives in the Barstow area, bought into the Indiana unit: $50,000 each for him and his wife, and $35,000 for each of his four children.
"It's an investment for their protection, my protection," he said. "I had the opportunity and I couldn't turn it down. I believe that strongly that something's going to happen."
Vivos has other locations in the works: one in Wyoming, Nebraska, a location in the Rockies, New York and the Carolinas, he said.
He's already begun work on a location in Central Europe that he calls a "true Noah's Ark," where exotic animals and plants are to be flown in at the last minute, he says, "provided there's enough time."
Vicino made his living in real estate and in the 1970s pioneered the inflatables business. One of his more notable publicity stunts was placing an inflatable Godzilla on the Empire State Building in 1983.
Vicino claims he has earned him no money from Vivos.
"I haven't taken a paycheck in three years," he said. "That's my devotion."
Although he's quick to say he doesn't want to alarm or scare anyone, he adds that he does want to warn people to prepare.
"My gut told me that something's coming that's going to be an extinction-level event on this earth and I believe it stronger today than ever," he said.