Local bomb shelters a relic of of Cold War era

(WZZM) -- North Korea has recently threatened a nuclear attack on the United States and while U.S. officials are quick to say we shouldn't be too worried, there was a time when nuclear war was a real possibility. That inspired WZZM 13 to take a look at relics of the Cold War around West Michigan, bomb shelters.

Christopher Crancer lives in a modest house in Whitehall. It's filled with images of Elvis, and the music of the Beatles. In the basement, is a concrete room with a metal gate blocking the entrance.

"This is my house and you wouldn't know it from looking outside of it, but I have a bomb shelter from the 60s," says Crancer. "Its like a jail door-- it would lock and this was to keep people out."

Crancer's father built the concrete room during the Cuban Missile Crisis. "This was a gun port... just in case," explains Crancer pointing at a hole in the wall.

The shelter is a small room with a 6 foot high ceiling. "There use to be a set of bunk beds right there," says Crancer. "This was made for a family of six."

The wall contains a shelving unit where two weeks of food was stored. A large barrel stored water. Crancer's family would practice nuclear readiness drills.

"My dad was real paranoid about nuclear war, says Crancer. "He wanted to keep us safe." Right now the bomb shelter is empty.

The threat of a nuclear attack was a concern for many during the Cold War, even for businesses like WZZM 13.

"The legend is that back in the 60s when this building (WZZM Studios) was designed, Grand Rapids was considered to be a national security risk because of the aircraft parts manufacturing at Lear Siegler," explains Chuck Mikowski, the station's director of technology.

WZZM 13's bomb shelter is the entire lower level of the building. "Look how thick the walls are solid concrete," explains Chuck. "When contractors have worked on this building to drill holes for floor or access or cable they said this is some of the hardest concrete they have ever come across."

The basement is currently used to store all manner of camera equipment, paper products, and old tapes.


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