That’s a very interesting question, and the answer is a lot! You see, after a natural disaster, there may be many things that need rebuilding or solving, from broken sewers and fallen power lines, to collapsed buildings and blocked roads.
Engineers are great at coming up with solutions to solve these problems – in fact that’s their job!
As you may have seen on the news, in November 2013 a devastating typhoon hit South East Asia causing lots of damage and leaving two million people without homes.
When the emergency services got through to the damaged areas, they had to think quickly about how to provide shelter for those who had lost their homes and how to look after the sick and ill as hospitals had been destroyed.
Often engineers need to think up brand new ways of doing things. Rebuilding houses need bricks and other building materials, but if the roads are blocked how can these get in? You might think they could use a helicopter, but these can only carry relatively small loads and certainly not enough to build sturdy weather-proof shelters for hundreds of thousands of people.
One engineering solution to help in disaster areas is something very clever called concrete canvas. Special tents are made of a light material that’s easy to transport. The material comes ready soaked in concrete powder. All that’s needed is water and, when they’re dry, they become sturdy weather-proof shelters. That’s just one way clever thinking by engineers can save lives.