Although people went about their everyday lives as normal, they began to take measures to prepare for a nuclear attack. In schools, children were taught to take shelter beneath their desks. Similarly, sirens were set up to alert citizens of an impending strike. What’s more, in many back yards across the country, homeowners began building shelters to protect their family from the devastating fallout of a nuclear bomb.
And in Mount Dora, a group of prominent citizens were busy putting their own survival plans in place. Several belonged to the Mount Dora Yacht Club, including Lake County Health Director Dr. James Hall, and tycoons Theodore Mittendorf and William Baker. Together, they came up with idea of pooling their resources to build a giant, shared survival shelter. In time, the complex would become known as the Mount Dora Catacombs.
The group, which also included the mayor of Mount Dora, a bank president, a school superintendent, retired teachers and a minister, approached J.G. Ray, a local builder. Apparently, they believed that a group shelter would offer many economic and social advantages.