No longer relegated to simply being a ground cover for a quick picnic, or a barrier over a pup tent for protection from a storm, a tarp has become a staple and way of life for many who have been devastated by recent hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, and even tsunamis. And even five years after Hurricane Katrina almost wiped the city of New Orleans off the map, there are still entire neighborhoods of homes whose roofs are still covered with the now famous FEMA blue tarps.
Sturdier materials for tarps are now being researched and manufactured in preparation for what many climatologists predict could be some of the most violent weather patterns in recent memory. With unprecedented Category 5 tornadoes popping up in towns that previously had escaped even minor tornado warnings, tarp manufacturers swiftly kicked into action to make sure that this time around, everyone who needed one, would be able to get one.
After the recent torrential flooding in Haiti, one of the largest shipments of international supplies included over a ton of tarps. These coverings were used for everything from roof repair to actual rain gear. People quickly learned how to turn the larger ones into shelters for entire families.
With the increase in recent weather deviations, many locations have instituted not only the use of tarps as part of their search and rescue missions, but they have established intricate color coding schemes to assist medical and rescue personnel determine how to properly respond as they search through the area. Orange tarps in many instances means critical emergency care is needed, and blue means structural damage with a question of whether the family has evacuated.