May 12 changed everything in the Sichuan province of China. Local radio in Sichuan quoted disaster relief officials as saying a third of the buildings in Wenchuan collapsed from the quake and another third were seriously damaged. In addition to taking thousands of lives, the earthquake leveled schools, hospitals and houses. As Chinese citizens and international helpers began cleanup, several tent companies stepped in to donate their time and materials. Losberger Shanghai and Röder Tent Service (Shanghai) Co. Ltd. are two of the many companies who have helped in the quake’s aftermath.
On May 21 at midnight, Losberger transported tent frames and tarpaulins to Deyang in trucks. Early on May 23, 12 supervisors and installers for Losberger, under the direction of the Chinese general manager Yibin Chen of the Losberger subsidiary, followed the tent equipment to the disaster area, setting up tents in coordination with regional authorities and aid organizations in places where they were needed the most. For the time being, all 13 tents are being used as hospitals or schools. Chen’s team also set up five tents which had been purchased from Losberger by the retail giant Metro for immediate aid in the stricken areas. These temporary shelters were set up in Shefang, Shigu and Mianzhu, where they were urgently required as hospitals. Existing local hospitals had been either severely damaged or were unable to cope with the numbers of injured people in their areas.
Two additional Losberger tents have now been nicely painted by students of the German School and Jinan District Middle School in Shanghai; the students wanted to express their sympathy and support for their contemporaries in the disaster area. The tents arrived in Sichuan on June 1, the official “Children’s Day” in China. They’re being used as temporary classrooms and accommodations for students.
Röder Tent Service (Shanghai) Co. Ltd. contacted the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau (SCAB) to set up its donation. “Actually, we really have a very tight schedule of our rental service, due to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and some other events,” said Röder’s Wilona Tsien, the company’s marketing communications executive. “We made a quick decision to close the rental business in the following days [to allow the] donation.”
The SCAB allocated Röder’s tents to the Dujiangan Beijie Experimental Foreign Languages School, to allow the school to re-open quickly after the quake and get students back into learning. “When we arrived,” Tsien says, “we saw the collapsed school and people living in tents on the playground, with tough living conditions.” Tsien said that the team worked closely with teachers and others to set up 10 tents over a one-week period, and also to teach them how to set up the tents to make sure that they stay safe and stable. The tents are designated as classrooms for now, but the school can keep the tents and reuse them in the future when necessary.
Among many others who have aided the relief effort, the German military responded to quake needs by setting aside 80 large military tents. Each of the large tents can accommodate more than 700 people and is equipped with a power generator and air conditioner.
Galynn Nordstrom is the senior editor of Specialty Fabrics Review magazine.