Sandbags don’t work – don’t be fooled

Source: Financial Times

Anxious home owners have been stockpiling them. Council workers and the Army have been laying them. Even the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry have been moving them..

On Thursday, David Cameron said the government would foot the sandbag bill after it emerged two councils had started charging residents.. And in Surrey, Alex Tribick from the Spelthorne Business Forum said the local currency had “changed from the pound to the sandbag”..

But are these sought-after sandbags really the best way to protect people’s homes?.

After the floods of 2007 a report by Sir Michael Pitt recommended phasing out sandbags, saying they had limited use. He advocated using “flood boards” to block doorways and air brick covers instead..

Although the Environment Agency helps councils issue sandbags, it agrees they are “ineffective for groundwater flooding”, but says they are cheap and easy to obtain and can provide protection for short periods of time, especially when used with plastic sheeting… It cites sandbags’ “pitfalls”: they are time-consuming to lay and fill, difficult to handle and susceptible to water seepage..

But Mary Dhonau, chairwoman of the Flood Protection Association, thinks sandbags are a total waste of money. She told the Financial Times she wants “Ban the Sandbag” to be written on her gravestone.

Fluvial Innovations comment:

This is further evidence demonstrating that sandbags do not work as a flood defence method.

Problems with sandbags:

  • Time consuming and labour intensive to assemble into flood defences
  • Prone to leakage
  • Can only be used once, not reusable
  • Viral and bacterial infections often present in flood water get transposed onto the porous hessian sacks.

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