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Letters To The Editor

May 17th, 2010


I read Gerald from Texas’ idea about the shipping containers, but I think you and your readers need to know there is a very serious risk of collapse from shelters of that kind. I had thought about the idea as well, but fortunately I spoke with several engineers about the load bearing capacity of shipping containers. Basically, they are built solidly to hold the weight of many loaded containers on top of one another without damage. However, the way they are designed does not at all accommodate the forces associated with loose soil and earth.

These things are not designed like houses. There are no “studs” in the walls, and there are no roof trusses or beams. They provide almost no “crush” resistance on their sides or ceiling. It’s true that these things can hold tremendous weight, and are meant to stack; however it’s made for a very specific type of load. Containers on the bottom of a stack basically rely on the floor of the container above them to transfer the weight to the outside four corners. They have four vertical pillars (one on each corner) that transfer the weight of any containers above them. However, they do not have any beams along the roof of the container. The roof itself is not designed to hold weight at all, unless the weight is already aligned to transfer the weight down the four vertical pillars. Similarly, the walls of these containers have no beams or supports to withstand force coming in from the sides.

If buried, the container would be facing loads on the ceiling and sides trying to fill the square void. Without some type of modification for the roof (to transfer the weight of the soil to the four vertical corner posts) the roof could very easily collapse. Additionally, without some type of modification the sides of the container could crush in as well. This is especially true after a rain or snowmelt conditions when the soil is even heavier.

Even the shape of the container would contribute to its demise. The forces acting upon objects submerged in soil are very similar to the forces acting on objects submerged in water. Submarines are basically giant cylinders, and it’s not for the aerodynamic properties! The cylinder is one of the strongest shapes when it comes to resisting “crush” forces. The elongated rectangle is one of the worst. However, the cylinder is not nearly as efficient when it comes to storage capacity as the rectangle. That’s why shipping containers are rectangles and submarines are cylinders.

I don’t want to discourage your readers. There are ways to turn a shipping container into a viable underground shelter, but your readers need to be absolutely sure the roof isn’t going to collapse and the walls aren’t going to cave in.

Yours in Christ,


Editor:  I’m not a structural engineer, but your observations sound relevant.  If the container is not buried deeply, I would think the weight of the earth wouldn’t be that great, but perhaps a reader can share their thoughts on the problem. I suspect any below-ground shelters are going to face a series of problems.

Another reader writes about a problem facing many would-be ‘preppers’:

Dear Editor:

I do not know if you’ll even get this but I surely hope so. I am a lowly Cashier. For description purposes, I am a Black woman, no children, never married. I tend to notice things that some of my friends tend to miss.

I have been watching the price of food escalate. I even mentioned this to a customer about how food seemed to be less and less, how people are paying more for less food. I also told him that the government knows/knew that food was becoming less but not telling people.

He seemed as though he believed what I was saying but that is not important to me. What is important is the fact that food seems to be dwindling. I have been watching this for some time. I want to move to a place far from the city. I live in the County but when the food riots come, the County will be hit hard. Yes, food riots are coming! I can see it! I have some food stored up and some medical supplies but not enough. I am not rich but I told my sister to stock up. Like me, she lives in the County and she’ll be like me also when the food riots start…hit hard when the mobs run crazy because the Government cannot give them what they are used to getting. Check out Greece. My sister is a Retired Nurse and I worked for the State for over 15 years until my job position was abolished. I have been a Manager of 2 Stores, worked with students in a university in Student Affairs and now I am waiting for retirement. 8 years to go. I am writing more than ever now and just noticing things going on around me. WE ARE IN SERIOUS TROUBLE!

What do you suggest for a poor woman like me to protect herself and her family when the flood of lawlessness hits over there being no food? I started warning people back in the late 1970’s up to the present time. I was a History/Political Science Major in college so I am used to gathering info and seeing trends.

The lessening of food is becoming more apparent to me each day. Some of my customers are now starting to speak on it. I do not know when the shortages shall become acute but it cannot be hidden forever. I am so glad that I found your site. Your words are confirmation for what I have been feeling for a long time. I am also a religious minority as well-Mainstream Jewish. Yes, they are a good number of Black Americans who know no other faith but Judaism. Many were born Jewish or had someone convert to Judaism way back in the family. My own family history is Jewish. Not every Black person is Christian or a Muslim for that matter. Many of us are Jewish and we suffer what our Caucasian members suffer and even more! But I am blessed beyond measure. I am so glad that I am alive and that G-d made me what I am! I am so glad that your site is out there preparing people for what is coming quickly. Thank you!

Most Humbly, Your Avid Reader,

Editor:  Angie, thanks for your heart-felt email.  As you begin to stockpile food, you need to remember at all times to be discreet about your preparations, both physically and with your communications.  This will ensure that only a small number of people (if any) know about what you are doing.  If the bad guys don’t know you have anything, you’re less of a target.  Additionally, you should have firearms for self-defense.  The basis of any self-defense firearm collection is the 12-gauge shotgun.  Thugs are always looking for easy targets, not an armed and determined black woman ready to protect herself and her food!  J  Finally, you might want to think about who should be in your “community”, i.e., .like-minded people who you trust and can collaborate with to help one another in times of need.

If you would like to mail the editor, please email [email protected]

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