2013-05-24 / Top Stories

TrapBag Barriers

By Katie McFadden

The TrapBag barriers are coming.

As another protective measure, the City is planning to install TrapBag devices along parts of the beach. The TrapBag barrier system is specifically designed for flood protection. The costeffective system is comprised of 100-foot segments of pentagon-shaped bags, placed side-by-side to form a continuous length of barrier that is filled with local materials. The segments, made of recycled plastic, fold out like an accordion, making them easy to transport, store and install. Each segment has 34 threefoot wide cells which are separated by a flexible wall. The cells are sloped on one side and vertical on another, with the bags placed so that the sloped side faces the waves.The TrapBag barrier comes in two, four or six-foot tall varieties and they can be stacked on top of one another to build a wall of a desired height. The bags are open on top for filling but they can be enclosed after filling is complete so that none of the fill would escape in the event of water overtopping the barrier. During installation, the bags are placed on Man Portable Deployment Units (MPDU), or lightweight structures that are designed to hold the bags up as they are filled with an available material like sand. The MPDU’s are removed after the bags are filled. A team of four people can set up a 1,000-foot barrier in 10-hours using a BobCat skid steer, making it an appropriate device to use in emergency flooding situations.

When filled, a 100-foot TrapBag barrier weighs 189,000 pounds, so it is designed to withstand a heavy force.

TrapBag cellular containers were invented by Everett “Buzz” Waid in 2004. As an earth moving contractor for 37 years, Waid has a lot of experience with flooding disasters, even in his hometown of Fort Myers, Florida. He created the device after Florida was hit by Hurricane Charley. The devices have been used around the state, particularly around the Florida Everglades, which frequently floods.

Waid wanted to create “something simple that would go around these places that could be put up in an hour or two,” he said. He developed this product as a quick, inexpensive and less labor-intensive system than sandbags. A 100-foot TrapBag barrier is the equivalent of about 8,000 sandbags.

TrapBag barriers have been tested and have been proven to work in real situations. The product was tested in a lab using US Army Corps of Engineers Standardized Testing of Flood Fighting Products protocol. The barrier successfully withstood wave action, overtopping and debris impact.

According to a TrapBag press statement, they “have been used by private and public entities, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the North Dakota National Guard, the Iowa Department of Transportation, the Nebraska Department of Transportation, Village of Saltair, Fair Harbour, Dunewood, Fire Island Pines and multiple other local governments. They’ve also been deployed to protect and mitigate damages on the Mississippi River by the Pontchartrain Levee District to protect the city of Baton Rouge. These organizations and many others have selected TrapBag® barriers because of their proven results in protecting property, municipal infrastructure and, most importantly, people.”

In 2011, TrapBag barriers were installed in parts of North Dakota and Louisiana to prevent flooding from nearby rivers. Several miles of TrapBag barrier were deployed in Fargo, Bismark, Missouri Valley and Baton Rouge and the products performed well against flood waters.

In a more local example, seven miles of TrapBag barriers were placed on the Sandy-ravaged Fire Island. The barriers were covered with sand to replicate dunes. Since their installation in January, the TrapBag barriers have withstood three Nor’easters.

“The barriers did their job. They protected millions of dollars of property on the coastline,” Bruce Boyd, CEO of TrapBag said. With their proven success, TrapBag is currently working on projects all across the world in places such as Thailand, India, Australia, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Guyana, according to Boyd.

Earlier this month, some residents came across TrapBag barriers on 97th Street that didn’t seem to fare well. However this incident occurred due to improper installation of the devices according to Boyd, who noted that the product has never failed before.

A contractor, Padilla Construction Services set up the bags as they are working on a project to repair four comfort stations, boardwalk islands and stadium seating. James Jacobi, Director of Operations for Padilla said in a letter that the contractor “used Trap- Bags as a dam to stop the high tide temporarily so that they could pour concrete to support the new pile caps and footings. The intended duration of this operation was a few days with no intention of long term use. The TrapBags were not installed as per the Specifications and not installed with a Certified TrapBag Representative present. The bags were not filled to the top and lids were not permanently fixed to the bags as per specification due to the very short term intended use.”

The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation is planning to use both TrapBag barriers and HESCO barriers as part of its protection plan for Rockaway. “These protective measures are being set up while comprehensive, long-term shoreline protection and coastal flood management plans are developed with the community and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” First Deputy Parks Commissioner Liam Kavanagh said in a statement.

According to a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation bulletin released on May 1st, the Parks Department “proposes to install temporary protective measures including the use of TrapBags, HESCO barriers and sand fencing for dune creation to provide interim emergency shoreline protection from storm surges along Rockaway beaches which have been severely eroded by Superstorm Sandy. Phase one of the project will encompass the installation of HESCO barriers from Beach 126th to Beach 108th Streets.

Future phases will include installation of TrapBags on the seaward side of the baffle wall from Beach 149th to 126th and Beach 107th to 73rd Street.

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