Hurricane-resistant homes in Haiti created by Iowa company - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Hurricane-resistant homes in Haiti created by Iowa company


When Hurricane Matthew tore through Haiti earlier this month, countless homes were destroyed. But many are still standing -- thanks to innovation from northern Iowa.

Sukup Manufacturing, based in Sheffield, created the Safe T Home -- a simple-to-build housing unit that is able to withstand natural disasters -- after the magnitude 7.0 earthquake in Haiti in 2010. Sukup then worked with GoServ Global, a humanitarian group in Eagles Grove, to distribute the Safe T Homes to Haiti.

Today, there are 200 Safe T Homes in Haiti, all of which are still standing after Hurricane Matthew hit. The Safe T Homes only suffered minimal damage, while many traditional homes in Haiti were destroyed.

The Safe T Homes were able to withstand Hurricane Matthew thanks to its design, which is based off the grain bins that Sukup manufactures.

"They're round, so they're not going to catch wind very much," said Sukup Chief Financial Officer Steve Sukup. "They have a double roof so they stay cool in the heat of the day."

Sukup Safety Director Brett Nelson explained more about the home's construction.

"It has 20-gauge galvanized corrugated sealed side walls, and a walk-through door," said Nelson. "One of the key features of the Safe T Home is how we anchor it to the ground, and that's done by these ballast boxes, which are filled with sand, rocks, or even rubble from buildings that failed."

The interior of the Safe T Home has 254 square feet of floor space. Combine that with the loft, and each unit features 381 square feet of livable space in all. The Safe T Home also features two windows with steel covers.

Nelson visited Haiti several times to help build Safe T Homes there. He recalled some of the struggles the people experienced.

"The impact of the poverty is so overwhelming. You see people bathing, getting their drinking water, and washing their vehicles all in the same river," said Nelson.

Nelson added that he is grateful to be able to provide aid to Haiti, and the success of the Safe T Homes could mean bigger things in the future.

"It gives me hope that perhaps we can help others. We can't help everybody, but we can always do more," said Nelson.

Sukup has 24 more Safe T Homes ready to be shipped to Haiti, if needed. The company has also worked with other groups to send Safe T Homes to Africa and South America.

Safe T Homes shipped to their destination are unassembled. It only takes a group of people a few hours to build each unit.

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