ShelterBox project helps in case of disaster



— What if a small group could provide humanitarian relief to families displaced by disaster?

What if all a family needed to set up a new dwelling could be contained in an extra-large tote?

That was the dream of a British Rotarian just a few years ago, according to Noon Rotary speaker Rob MacGregor, an ambassador for international ShelterBox program.

“He envisioned providing shelter to storm victims, who were already receiving medical and food supplies. But many of them had nowhere to take shelter,” MacGregor said Monday.

“Since its founding in 2000, the ShelterBox organizations has responded to 250 disasters in more than 90 countries.” MacGregor said.

MacGregor, a University of Washington associate professor, said the first large-scale ShelterBox deployment occurred during the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004.

“We were able to provide 22,000 boxes to storm victims in four countries,” he said.

The boxes are made possible by organizations like Sunnyside’s Noon Rotary, he said.

Each box contains a tent large enough for an extended family, with items needed to begin to feel safe and secure following earthquakes, floods hurricanes and even typhoons, he said.

ShelterBoxes cost an estimated $1,000 each – “…and we don’t take them back. They stay with the families,” MacGregor said.

He said in the Philippines, which is frequently hit by typhoons, the government reclaimed and then redistributed the boxes to victims as needed.

“The tents are very sturdy and can withstand typhoon-wind speeds,” he said.

The ShelterBox organization, headquartered in Cornwall, U.K., relies on donations from organizations such as Rotary, MacGregor said

“Rotary International is one of our main partners,” he said. “Thanks to worldwide donors the emergency shelter in box system has aided victim of the Hurricane Sandy, the Haiti and Nepal earthquakes.

“We’ve even sent boxes to the recent victims of the Iraq and Syria conflicts, working through other agencies,” he said. “We’re hopeful that your community may be interested in helping to support the program,” he said.


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