At Shipping Containers Melbourne, we have long known the value of containers beyond simple steel boxes for ocean transport. 

Offering incredible versatility, modified shipping containers can be used in many situations, including disaster relief. 

Strong, durable and readily able to be repurposed, shipping containers are emerging as a key player in the future of disaster recovery. 

The Challenges of Disaster Recovery 

When you think of major disasters both in Australia and overseas, events like Hurricane Katrina, the Christchurch earthquake and Black Saturday Bushfires may come to mind. 

Chaotic, destructive and incredibly challenging to navigate, these types of natural disasters require rapid solutions such as emergency housing, medical care, rescue headquarters, hygiene facilities, and more. 

With the lack of easy access to these areas and the inability to ship much in to help, finding appropriate options can seem almost impossible. 

This is where modified containers can make all the difference. 

The Role of Shipping Containers in Disaster Relief 

Imagine being able to deliver a perfectly stocked and contained medical facility ready for use into the middle of a disaster zone. Or having the capacity to bring shower and toilet facilities to people who have lost their homes and access to basic hygiene. 

This is possible with modified, purpose-built shipping containers. 

Requiring no on-site building, or special conditions, a shipping container can be dropped right into a disaster zone, post-disaster and be put to immediate use. 

Examples Case Studies 

Example 1: The use of shipping container temporary housing after Hurricane Katrina.

Following Hurricane Katrina, many displaced persons were housed in FEMA trailers. While this seemed an appropriate response at the time, major concerns were later raised. 

In a Federal report published in July 2006, toxic levels of formaldehyde were discovered in 42% of FEMA trailers examined. This was attributed to poor construction and substandard building materials.

Additionally, this type of emergency housing relied on contractors to install them at specific locations. 

Using shipping containers in place of FEMA trailers eliminates concerns over poor construction and the need for complex installation. 

Durable enough to withstand hurricanes, they can be dropped onsite as an emergency pod and further modified as required to connect plumbing and electricity. 

Based on several case studies, shipping containers are now being looked at for emergency housing and disaster relief in Haiti also. 

Example 2: The role of shipping containers in the recovery efforts after the Christchurch Earthquake.

Likewise, during the recovery efforts following the Christchurch earthquake authorities employed shipping containers in several ways. 

They were used as:

  • Barriers to protect houses, vehicles and pedestrians from the risk of falling debris from compromised buildings. 
  • Support for badly damaged buildings to stop them from collapsing until repairs or demolition could be arranged. 
  • Emergency shelter spaces for workers in the CBD where aftershocks were a continued threat
  • Support structures for temporary sheds whereby containers formed the sides and base on which a roof was placed.

As shipping containers can safely withstand seismic activity, they were an ideal solution in these circumstances. 

Benefits Of Using Shipping Containers In Disaster Relief

As modified shipping containers meet required building codes for temporary housing or emergency shelters, they are ideal in disaster recovery scenarios. 

Affected individuals deserve assurance that they are out of danger and being placed in a safe space. 

This is something the formaldehyde-laced shelters in Hurricane Katrina did not provide – many displaced persons developed health complications as a result of their time spent in FEMA trailers. 

Given the vast amount of debris and waste created during disasters, it is vital that temporary housing or shelters do not further contribute to this situation. 

Shipping containers are incredibly durable, meaning that they can be used long-term without issue. This makes them both more sustainable and eco-friendly than other alternatives. 

Should they require disposal, they can be dissected into pieces and melted down before being made into something new. 

The Future of Disaster Relief 

Taking the above into account, it is easy to see why shipping containers are the future of disaster relief. 

At Shipping Containers Melbourne, we’re proud to facilitate the use and modification of containers for this purpose. Understanding the need for further planning and innovation in this space, we continue to follow ongoing studies into this area. 

Want to learn more about shipping containers and their merits in disaster recovery situations or how they can be adapted to meet other needs? Contact Shipping Containers Melbourne today at 03 7018 7555