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HESCOs tested in Fargo, holding up

HESCO baskets, the barriers Cedar Rapids is counting on for future temporary flood protection, make up 10 miles of the dikes protecting Fargo from a record crest on the Red River of the North.

“It’s the first time we’ve ever used them,” said Mark Bittner, Fargo’s city engineer.

In fact, a shipment of HESCO barriers meant for Cedar Rapids on Tuesday was diverted to Fargo, and more originally on their way to Cedar Rapids are on the way from Hammond, Louisiana, are on their way to this North Dakota town of 92,000.

“They diverted one shipment that was due on Tuesday,” Cedar Rapids Public Works Manager Craig Hanson said. “Late last night I got a call from the Corps of Engineers asking if they could divert a second shipment, and we said no problem.”

The HESCO baskets can be locked in rows and filled with sand or clay. They’re about four feet high, military green or tan, and can be assembled quickly.

Bittner, Fargo’s city engineer, said the barriers have been double-stacked in one place. All the temporary dikes in Fargo, and there are many, many dikes, have been built with sandbags, clay, or HESCO baskets.

Bittner said one problem with the HESCO baskets has been water leaking under them. He’s not sure if that’s because of the baskets, because they’ve not been installed quite properly, or because the ground is frozen.

“As far as placing the HESCO, it’s a snap,” Bittner said. “Incredibly easy.”

But it’s been difficult to fill the baskets with sand or other material, unless they’re placed on level ground. The easiest way has been to fill them using a concrete truck, with its long chute.

“Any time we had to use bobcats, it really slowed them down,” he said. “They’re deployed quickest on a paved surface.”

But none of the dikes in Fargo has been breached, and only one neighborhood — about 150 homes south of downtown — has undergone a mandatory evacuation.

Filed under: Cedar Rapids City Council, Flood, , , , , , ,

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