Natural and geophysical disasters seem to be playing an important role in the 21st-century. Earthquakes, volcanos, and avalanches are changing the way people live in countries around the world. And the floods, violent storms, tropical cyclones, wildfires, droughts, and heat waves, are skyrocketing. In 1970, there were 78 natural disasters. In 2004, there were 348. From 1980 to 2009, there was an 80 percent increase in natural disasters. More than 217 million people feel the effects of natural disasters every year.
The increase in natural disasters hurts people in several ways. According to recent reports, natural disasters put a major dent in the world’s economy. More than $1.2 trillion disappeared from 2001 to 2010. The debate about the cause of these disasters is still raging. But there’s no debate when it comes to helping people who lose everything when a hurricane, flood, or wildfire changes the course of their life. One of the entrepreneurs who answers the call for help that echoes across the country after a disaster is Alabama native Barbara Stokes. Stokes founded Green Structures Homes in Huntsville, Alabama, so people displaced by a natural disaster have a place to live while they begin to rebuild their lives.
Green Structure Homes (GSH) has a state-of-the-art manufacturing factory in Alabama. Thanks to Barbara’s insight and guidance that Green Structure Homes facility designs, builds, delivers modular residential and commercial structures across the United States and Canada. GSH developed an effective way to engineer, install, and inspect their residential structures so there’s little to do but use them once they arrive in a disaster area.
The impetus behind GSH is Stokes. But her husband, Scott, is the other half of this award-winning team. The Stokes have a successful track record working with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). When FEMA needed housing for the Houstonites displaced by Hurricane Harvey, the agency awarded GSH a $28 million contract to deliver modular structures. The Houston contract is one example of the intricate and crucial work Stokes does when a disaster strikes.
In order to understand what makes Barbara Stokes tick, it’s important to understand her background. She’s a Mercer University graduate who excelled in physics and biomedical engineering. She also studied management techniques as well as manufacturing theories. Barbara Stokes cut her business teeth at the Pisces Corporation, and then she continued to gain experience at Boeing. Stokes is a visionary in the disaster relief construction industry. She believes the industry needs a better communication strategy during a disaster, so federal and local responders can work together. There is always an element of chaos in every natural disaster, and it’s up to disaster relief teams to relieve some of the chaos. Time is a foe during disaster relief projects. That’s why Stokes and her team build practical modular structures that are simple to use.
According to some news reports, Hurricane Katrina caused the largest housing crisis since the 1930s. The effects of that crisis hit people across the nation. FEMA trailers helped ease the loss, but those 275-square-foot trailers lacked the upgrades that are part of each Green Structure modular home. Stokes founded GSH in 2008 after watching the havoc that Hurricane Katrina caused in 2005.
There’s little doubt. The weather is changing how and where people live. Ocean temperatures continue to increase, and the Earth continues to get hotter. That’s why Barbara Stokes, and her team, continue to produce innovative modular designs. The GSH structures take a little of the sting out of these natural occurrences. Stokes knows people don’t realize they will need her help until a disaster strikes. That’s why she is always ready to help even when the weather isn’t wreaking havoc around the country.