By Rick Montgomery Herald News KANSAS CITY, Mo. — http://www.homeland1.com:80/homelan...piling-ammo-food-water-in-prep-for-the-worst/ Ammo. Canned goods. Vegetable seeds. Fortified water by the case. They are reportedly flying off the shelves, these staples of the stockpile crowd. "Survivalist" isn't the right term, not in a downturn that has everyone nervous. "Preparedness" or "self-sufficiency" — that is what they are saying. Adhesive bandages. Gardens in the works — be they victory gardens or, as some prefer, "crisis gardens." The closet off the living room in the Owens home near Lawson, Mo., isn't huge, but it's organized. Heavy coats, sweatshirts and Ron Owens' cap collection greet wife, Jan, as she enters and flips the light. She pulls back the heavy coats. There, on a rack covering the wall: Nonfat dry milk. Rice. A cast-iron skillet. "You never know when you'll need it," she said of the food supplies she began stockpiling five months ago. Jan is a cheery person who works in a nursing home. She apologizes for the cramped closet, just up the stairs from the cramped basement bathroom where more essentials are stuffed behind a curtain: Stewed tomatoes. First aid in a suitcase. Large bottles of liquor. "Er ... that's for snakebite," deadpans Ron, who works in alternative fuels and holds an MBA. The couple's easy disposition — Ron plays mandolin on the porch — belies a worry shared by many in this final year of a stormy decade. If Sept. 11 wasn't enough, if Hurricane Katrina and spiking oil prices weren't enough, if a federal government diving into 14-digit debt wasn't enough, Jan and others now ask, "What if the banks close?" Are times that perilous? Frankly, not to Joe Levy, a clerk at Mickey's Surplus in Kansas City, Kan., where mannequin heads sport gas masks. "Compared to the Depression, this is nothing!" said Levy, 78, whose family of German Jews fled the Nazis and came to America in 1937. "I have faith in this country. Things will come around." Many agree. For the first time in five years, more Americans than not say the country is headed in the right direction, according to a recent Associated Press poll. But among the 44 percent who say "wrong direction" and countless others who just wonder if they are prepared for the next blow, natural or man-made, it makes sense to grab 10 cans of corn on sale instead of two. Nationwide, retailers report shortages of canning jars, water-purification tablets and ammunition — especially ammunition. For many gun owners, the stockpiling "isn't just kind of — it's full on," said Jeff Neuman of The Bullet Hole gun store and firing range in Overland Park. "We're real thin on ammunition, same as everywhere." Much of the ammunition crunch is tied to concerns other than economic. Gun-rights groups worry that the Obama administration and a Democratic Congress will stiffen firearm restrictions. Some state legislatures are looking at bills that aim to slap serial numbers on bullets. But area firearm dealers say the creeping unease extends beyond the threat of gun-control forces in positions of power. Global terrorism. National debt. Big banks teetering. "I think it's all of the above," said Mike Malone of the Olathe Gun Shop. The Department of Homeland Security in April issued a report to law enforcement officials warning that home foreclosures, unemployment and the recession "could create a fertile recruiting environment for right-wing extremists." The report ignited conservatives and veterans groups with its suggestion that military personnel returning from war could be ripe for the picking. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has apologized to veterans. The extreme right hardly has a corner on today's doom market. Web sites such as LifeAftertheOilCrash.net and TheNewSurvivalist.com foresee escalating violence and cascading calamities in the aftermath of "peak oil" production, global warming or other world-changing crises. For Jennifer Olsen, a passion to prepare was validated by recent news of the nation's energy grid being tapped (but not disrupted) by computer hackers, some from foreign lands. Mass chaos looms, "but not for my little family," said Olsen, a Phoenix area woman who can hardly wait to move into a house the family just bought in Kansas City. "Plans are already under way for rainwater collection, solar shower, gray-water usage, turning the lawn into useful food and habitat ..." she wrote in an e-mail. Zohara Hieronimus — author, former broadcaster and holistic health care advocate — said: "Fear of an unknown future compels us as individuals and communities to get all kinds of insurance plans." Unlike most insurance plans, stocking up for the worst can be therapeutic. It offers a sense of control when so many things seem out of control, said Hieronimus, whose Baltimore-based radio show urged listeners to prepare for the Y2K scare a decade ago. "People saving food, saving water, buying ammunition — they're all expressing a love for life. They're doing what they can to save the life they know," she said. The winter sales at Strasser True Value in Kansas City, Kan., suggested something less profound to general manager LeRoy Andrews. "We sold more electric heaters this year than we ever did before," but Andrews believes it was to help homeowners cut their gas bills. He said demand for emergency generators wasn't close to what his store faced in the run-up to Y2K, when the century's impending turn spurred fears of massive power outages. "Some probably are stocking up on essentials a little more than normal," Andrews said, "but it might be because you don't know if you're going to have a job tomorrow." The Owens' garden, just planted, is big enough to sustain everyone on their rural cul-de-sac should summer bring disaster — economical or meteorological. "You make time to do the basic things," Ron said. "It's a process." Jan grins: "Some of our neighbors think we're a little ... (she clicks her tongue) ... off." The neighbors are part of this, whether they know it or not. "If they're not as well prepared for whatever might happen, we'd like them to know everything on our property would be theirs, too," Ron said. "If it takes community living, that's what it takes." Back in the cramped closet, Jan spins around to face more shelves loaded with essentials: Disinfecting wipes. A supply of old cell phones. A tin can holding game tiles. "See," she said, "if we want we could even play dominoes."