5 emergency shelters for use after disasters

An SIW guide to disaster relief shelters and housing

One of the things that is often not given a lot of thought in the aftermath of natural or man made disaster are the importance of shelters and temporary relief housing for those who have lost their homes.

In the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the summer of 2005, the Federal Emergency Management Agency spent $2.7 billion to purchase 145,000 mobile homes and trailers to serve as temporary housing for those affected by the storms, according to a report published by the Associated Press.

Since that time, however, many companies have taken it upon themselves to develop new and innovative structures that can be delivered and easily assembled for only a fraction of what it cost the federal government to purchase mobile homes. These shelters range from hard-panel structures that can be quickly assembled and broken down repeatedly to inflatable tents that provide temporary relief.

With that said, here are five innovative emergency structures that are either already on the market or will be shortly.

World Shelters U-Domes


World Shelters U-Dome structures are ideal for temporary relief housing. The U-Dome 200, frameless, hard-panel shelter provides 230 square feet of living space that can be deployed in a variety of environments. Not only is the structure itself flame retardant, but its 5-millimeter single shell model can withstand winds up to 90 mph and snow fall of up to 8 inches. Making for an easy installation process, a group of four people can setup a U-Dome shelter in about four hours, according to the company’ executive director, Bruce LeBel.

The U-Dome 200, which is capable of housing a family of five, is also available in a 120 model, which can accommodate a family of three. According to LeBel, a single-shell U-Dome 200 with locking double doors, four panel vents, two roof vents, one fixed window, and one window opening costs $2,895. A full insulated and winterized U-Dome 200 with snow peak costs $4,895. LeBel said that the U-Dome has been deployed in several areas throughout California, as well as the Midwest. To learn more about World Shelters, visit http://worldshelters.org/.

HOMErgent Corporation’s Flexayurt shelters

Flexayurt shelters

These life sustaining shelters from the HOMErgent Corporation were given the “Best Security Idea” award in the 2008 Global Security Challenge. According to the company’s director, Arthur Zwern, since the market is currently dominated by trailers and other “big box-type” solutions that are not sustainable and can’t be delivered in an efficient manner, HOMErgent has developed the Flexayurt housing units, which are off-grid eco shelters. Zwern explained that the shelter is basically self-sustaining and have a low eco footprint, converting sunlight into the energy for the shelter’s lights and appliances. The shelters start at $3,000 per unit and can be configured for different living conditions, be it remote workers or family seeking disaster refuge. A standard unit consists of about 170-square foot living space.

Though they have yet to be formally deployed, Zwern said that his company has received interest from the military, mineral export companies, oil companies, and the Red Cross. The Flexayurt shelters are capable of handling earthquakes, as well as hurricane force winds. Zwern added that they have also had talks with the military to make them bulletproof for use in housing troops. Also, because they’re self-sustainable, they can be used for an indefinite period of time and broken down and setup repeatedly without a problem. Zwern thinks that the biggest vertical market for the company’s solution will eventually be the world’s poor.

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