‘Revolutionary’ pods finding a new purpose for survivors of brutal disaster


By Adriana Navarro, AccuWeather staff writer

After Hurricane Dorian slammed into the Bahamas in early September and left nearly 70,000 people homeless, the CEO of company that organizes music festivals decided he had a way to help. Pasquale Rotella, who heads up the Los Angeles-based Insomniac, sent staff and luxury camping tents to Abaco to provide shelter for the hurricane victims, according to Reuters. 


While thousands of people sought refuge from the islands after the storm, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) estimated that up to 15,000 people across the Bahamas were still without food or shelter as of Sept. 10.

The tents that the company sent are called “SHIFTPODs,” which are hexagonal, yurt-like tents that stand around six feet tall and have a silver exterior. The tents provide amenities that are considered “revolutionary” for camping, yet necessary for long-term living — amenities such as access to air conditioning and electrical outlets. The company is hoping to reach the goal of housing 5,000 people.

Insomniac runs the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas and housed 25,000 people in the pods last year, Insomniac executive director of production Alyxzander Bear told Reuters


“At the festivals, in Vegas especially, we create housing and we have food service, we have medical service. We literally build a city in Las Vegas,” Bear said. “We need to do that in the Bahamas.”


One tent can house six people at a festival. In the Bahamas, a family of 11 can sleep in a pod comfortably, Bear told the news outlet. SHIFTPOD advertises that the tents are insulated, heat-reflective, rainproof and rustproof.


A single tent can cost up to $1,800, according to the SHIFTPOD website. Insomniac estimates the effort will cost the company more than $1 million and is starting a GoFundMe to help fund its efforts. 


This aid comes at a time when the government of the Bahamas is building tent cities for temporary living arrangements; nearly 2,000 people are in shelters across New Providence, Grand Bahamas and Eleuthera as of Sept. 19, according to the CDEMA.


The Bahamas Gaming Operators Association, in partnership with the National Emergency Management Agency, built over 15,000 square feet of air-conditioned, temporary tent housing by Sept. 10, according to Eyewitness News. The tents will be used to provide temporary lodgings for over 800 Dorian survivors. 


“We need a shelter desperately,” Julie Green, a 35-year-old Dorian survivor and mother of six, told The Associated Press earlier in the month. “We’re just exhausted.” 


She told the news organization that shelter officials had told her they couldn’t accept children as young as hers. Others on the island find themselves unable to afford to pay for a place to stay, having lost much of what they had in the storm or being out of a job after the hurricane.


Officials are planning on opening two “tent city” relief centers, which will be able to house 4,000 people, co-chairman of the Bahamas’ disaster relief and reconstruction committee John Michael-Clark told Reuters earlier in the month.


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