Haiti mega quake survivors may find housing in shipping containers

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Washington, January 16 (ANI): The survivors of the devastating Haiti earthquake may soon have a place to stay temporarily, thanks to a research that is exploring methods to convert shipping containers into emergency housing.

The impoverished Caribbean nation was rocked by an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale on January 12 and the ensuing devastation has been of dreadful proportions, with some 50,000 people believed to be dead and countless others said to be injured or homeless.

Now, some Clemson University researchers have been experimenting with ways to convert shipping containers into emergency housing in the hurricane-prone Caribbean, where a surplus of the sturdy boxes often sits in port yards.

Pernille Christensen, a research associate in the Richard H. Pennell Center for Real Estate, associate professor Doug Hecker; and assistant professor Martha Skinner of Clemson's School of Architecture, collaborated on the SEED Project, working to develop a method to convert the shipping containers into homes.

The original idea was inspired by housing crises that have followed large hurricanes in the Caribbean and United States.

However, Hecker said that shipping containers would meet those needs in an earthquake zone as well.

"Because of the shipping container's 'unibody' construction they are also very good in seismic zones and exceed structural code in the United States and any country in the world," Hecker said.

"They have also been used in other countries as emergency shelters in the case of earthquakes. As the SEED Project develops this will certainly be an area that we incorporate. With a few simple cuts at the port, a storage container can be turned into something that is livable and opens to the site," he added.

Faculty and students sought a way to put displaced people in emergency housing that could be sturdy and safe on a permanent site.

Putting families back on their own land quickly is key to the idea.

Families displaced by disaster often do not return to their permanent homes for years, if ever, but the Clemson researchers are looking for strategies to implement the SEED Project as quickly as possible, ideally having a modified container on site within three weeks.

"You get people back in their communities and it strengthens those communities," Christensen said.

"They work on their home, not a temporary shelter, and then they work with their neighbors to rebuild the neighborhood. It leads to a healthier and safer community. And these are places often in dire need of better housing," he added. (ANI)

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