(WBIR-Sevierville) A billion dollar industry is finding some of its strongest support in East Tennessee.
Prepping for doomsday scenarios has become good business, including everything from emergency preparedness to self reliance.
The Mountain Prepper Home, Gun & Outdoor Expo is taking place this weekend at the Sevierville Convention Center. It's the largest prepper show east of the Mississippi River and, quite possibly, the largest in the nation.
"I don't mean to scare people because that's really not what this is about. These are not nutty people; these are people who are just preparing for the future," said Bill Vernon, one of the promoters for the Mountain Prepper Expo.
Dustin Corum with Corum Pump Service and Well Drilling in Knoxville noticed it's a growing industry. He sells a Simple Pump that is able to pump water from 325 feet below ground, without electricity.
"We've seen people drilling water wells just for this system right here to be able to have their own water source," Corum said.
The expo also features an Atlas Survival Shelter that goes underground and can last up to 200 years.
"Things are coming to a head and people are getting ready for that. Some people think of doomsday as end of the world, science fiction type of stuff. I look at doomsday as a complete and total shift in our way of life," said Bob Gaskin with Black Dog Survival School in Middle Tennessee.
Prepping has put a spotlight on East Tennessee. A survivalist author declared Tennessee's Cumberland Plateau as a prime piece of real estate to survive a societal meltdown. In the book Strategic Relocation, author Joel M. Skousen states, "I consider the Tennessee Cumberland Plateau the 'redoubt of the East,' and it is my highest rated area for retreats near the East Coast."
As a result, demand went up for property on the Cumberland Plateau.
"People are becoming aware of this. We've seen a shift in the prepper industry. It used to be the people who knew the world was going to end because they believed all the fear-mongering. Now, what we're seeing is a lot of our clients are attorneys, they're doctors, they're college professors," Gaskin said.
The Mountain Prepper Expo continues Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sevierville Convention Center.
Admission is $8, children 12 years of age and under are free.