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Fargo-Moorhead struggling with HESCOs and tiger dams

The flood protection devices Cedar Rapids plans to use in the years before a levee system is built are being tested in Fargo and Moorhead, and getting mixed reviews.

HESCO barriers make up 10 miles of the 35 to 40 miles of dikes in Fargo. They are interlocking wire and burlap baskets filled with sand from above, and they form a wall against the water.

But HESCO barriers are sliding out at the bottom in some places under the pressure of flood water, and have to be reinforced with sand on the backside, said Mark Bittner, Fargo’s city engineer. This is the first time Fargo has ever used HESCO barriers, and some that were meant for Cedar Rapids were diverted here this week.

“They’re kicking out at the bottom,” Bittner said. “We’re having a lot of problems with them.”

He said, as he did yesterday, that filling the baskets is difficult unless they’re on level ground — like a street. When the baskets were placed on small levees or uneven backyards, skidloaders and endloaders struggled to get to them and fill them with sand.

This would be a problem in Cedar Rapids, said Craig Hanson, Cedar Rapids’ public works manager.

“That was my fear,” Hanson said, pointing out that putting HESCO baskets on the levee next to Time Check will be difficult.

The other flood protection measure Cedar Rapids has purchased is tiger dams, rubber or plastic tubes that can be filled with water to form a temporary levee against floodwater.

In Moorhead, across the river from Fargo, the city placed a few blocks of tiger dams along the river as an emergency measure. The water in the tubes three-foot high tubes is “freezing and expanding,” said Shannon Monroe, Deputy Chief of Police in Moorhead.

This is a problem for two reasons: the tubes are cracking in some places, and ice floats.

“It’s quick to set up and it would largely be more useful in warm climates,” Monroe said. “We were out of time.”

Water is pooling and freezing in the streets on the dry side of the tiger dam in Moorhead, about a foot deep.

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

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