When Is a Grain Bin Really a Great House?
Iowa ingenuity is a beautiful thing. When the earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, Sukup Manufacturing’s Brett Nelson (safety director), Steve Sukup (CFO), and Brad Poppen (Engineering) quickly came on board wanting to help. This group at the Sukup corporation that makes grain bins wanted to know why the houses in Haiti couldn’t stand up to the storms and why emergency houses were so slow in coming. They turned to thing they knew – grain bins.
Grain Bin Houses Store a Good Deal
Grain bin houses have been around for awhile. If you have a now abandoned grain bin on your property because it’s no longer being used as a farm, you’ve gotten a bigger bin, changed your system or whatever, you have to do something with it. Some people make it a house. Other people buy them new or used and transport one somewhere to make a home.
I think the inspiration comes from the lovely curving staircase that goes around the outside to the top where the hatches to put grain in are. You have to cut doors and windows and finish the inside, but it can be a lovely and unique home. They’ve even made Mother Earth News.
Putting the Safety in Safe-T-Houses
But these grain bin structures for Haiti would be something new and specially designed. You might call them a grain bin house, a silo house, or an emergency house. While they were based on a grain bin and used the same materials, they were designed to be houses. With their low, rounded shape they were set up to defy strong winds. They are also more secure than many houses in the developing world.
According to Sukup, “Each home can sleep 10 or more and features a double-roofed system that displaces heat, a full-size, lockable steel door, two windows that can be locked from within and a water collection system….The Safe T Homes® were able to hold up to 60 people in each home to ride out the storm. The Safe T Home® has a life expectancy of 75 years and can be assembled on-site with simple hand tools.” They can be put up in a couple of hours. They are built to defend against weather, fire, and termites which are the bane of home building in a tropical climate.
Standing Iowa Strong
Sukup Manufacturing has directly donated more than 75 of these structures. Churches and individuals have donated money to buy more. Most of these donated homes have been sent to Haiti, but some have also been shipped to Africa and Peru. Some of the structures were gathered into what they called Village of Hope in Les Cayes, Haiti.
When Hurricane Matthew struck the island nation in 2016 only 10% of traditional housing was left standing, but all 200 of the Safe-T-Homes on the island survived.
Find Out and Do More
The best place to go for information is the Sukup Manufacturing page about Safe-T-Homes.
If you want to work with a group to give a lot of money, you may want to contact Sukup directly, but if you want to donate individually for more of these houses go to the project on GoServ Global. You may have to select “Safe-T-Home” from the drop down menu to make sure it goes where you intend.
Another great Iowa idea saves lives. I told you Iowa ingenuity was a wonderful thing. Try to think outside the box to help make it a better world.
UPDATED May 25 2017: I made a couple of small corrections and additions including the location of the Village of Hope. I also added the photo courtesy of GoServe Global.
Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.