Thursday, September 17, 2009

Big Bags

With holidays not so far away, the mention of big bags makes me think of the shopping that I'll have to get done pretty soon.

But these bags are far more useful. MoDOT has purchased bags -- really, really BIG bags -- in order to hold off floodwaters in the state. They can help alot more people than just those on my gift list.

Big Bags are just that -- large sand bags that unfold like an accordion to create a 15-foot long by 3-foot high by 3-foot wide storage compartment for sand. One system of Big Bags takes the place of 500 regular sand bags.

“They’ll be used the next time floodwaters threaten to rise over our major roads,” said Jim Carney, state maintenance engineer. “A new product like this can help us save time and protect lives during a crisis.”

The Big Bags work much like Legos toys; a chain of dumpster-sized bags can be stacked, attached, filled with sand and built upon to create massive floodwalls quickly and easily. The bags are made of tightly woven polypropylene with wooden frames that are screwed together. Each system weighs only 50 pounds when empty, but when deployed they are filled with 2,800-3,500 pounds of sand, depending on the moisture content.

It takes just a few minutes to fill the bags with the help of a spreader box on dump trucks. Creating a traditional sand bag wall could take several hours.

Flood waters, watch out.