Preparing for the Worst in Arkansas

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

When the shit hits the fan, will you be ready? The Arkansas Defense Force will be. An independent militia, these guys meet regularly to eat, share knowledge, and increase their disaster preparedness. When an ice storm hit Arkansas in 2009, some of them had enough food, water, and battery power to remain completely unaffected. They’re also prepared for invasions, gang war, and civil unrest, too. For the literary magazine TriQuarterly, Caroline Beimford spends time with the ADF, to understand their concerns, their philosophies, how they got into survivalism, and whether they are, as many people believe, just plain weird.

A series of tragic events involving his first wife and son also shed light on his belief in self-sufficiency and preparedness, as well as his suspicion of most government bodies. He was able to save his wife’s life during a road trip as the result of his basic medical training, and he claims his son was de facto kidnapped into the Oklahoma foster care system as the result of federal funding incentives. His focus now is to convert his parents’ 4.5 acres into a more secure, private compound. Though he currently resides in a trailer on the property and cares for his aging parents, he has plans to move the house back from the road, build a fence, and construct a gun range and several sheds so he can empty out the storage units he currently rents.

Still, according to Scott, the big picture is about helping people in “the now.” When he reads about men calling 9-1-1 when their cable goes out, he’s afraid for humanity. He sees himself as a protector of knowledge once broadly held but now fallen from favor with the rise of urbanization. A K-9 trainer and Search & Rescue member in Arkansas and Oklahoma (he was a first responder after the Oklahoma City bombing), Scott says he’s “less interested in volcanoes and more interested in real life.” Expanding on Werner’s classroom jokes about iPhones and GPS, he says, “If your phone dies and you get lost in the woods, I’ll come find you.”

Read the story