R-Vision Outfitting PODS for Emergency Housing
RV manufacturer R-Vision Inc., Warsaw, Ind., is outfitting specially equipped Portable On Demand Storage (PODS) units — typically used to store household goods — to be used for emergency housing, according to the Associated Press.
Pete Warhurst, founder of PODS Enterprises Inc., Clearwater, Fla., is in discussions with the state of Florida and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) about ordering PODS units to have on hand.
Monster storms in 2004 and 2005 planted the seed in Warhurst’s mind to develop a prototype living unit with air conditioning, beds, a refrigerator, stove, bathroom, generator and other comforts designed to shelter as many as five people for months.
From the outside, the 8-by-16-foot unit, which was unveiled Wednesday (July 26) looks like one of the company’s portable storage boxes — except for the people-sized door.
And like a storage unit, it’s delivered on the back of a truck and can be put down almost anywhere. The inside, though, has the feel of a decent-sized motor home.
“In about 10 minutes’ time, we can have a family with a place to sleep for the night,” said Warhurst, a former firefighter who started PODS in 1998 and turned it into a market leader.
If Florida or FEMA is interested, PODS would then store the units and deploy them as needed from the firm’s many warehouses.
“They are suitable to sustain people. They are not elaborate where (residents) are not going to be motivated to get out of them,” Warhurst said, referring to FEMA’s trouble getting storm refugees to move out of temporary trailer parks.
Roy Dunn, disaster housing chief for the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said public money isn’t available to buy a bunch of the PODS shelters right away, but the state is looking for ways to incorporate them into its disaster plans. He said he is urging local emergency managers and social service agencies to look at them, too.
“I think it’s a great tool to put in the tool box,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s a product that needs to be seriously looked at as a resource.”
FEMA spokesman James McIntyre declined to comment, citing rules prohibiting the federal agency from appearing to endorse particular products.
Depending on extras, the shelter units cost $10,000 to $13,000 to build.
Warhurst said there are no immediate plans to have company-owned units available for rent to individuals.
PODS Enterprises deployed thousands of its traditional units after the 2004 and 2005 storms, mostly for storage and salvage.
Its franchises across the country also provided units for collection of donations for storm victims. Privately owned, PODS is franchised in 47 states, Australia and Canada. It has 123,000 units in use and has served more than 800,000 customers.