NOLA Dam It All with Sand Sausages

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New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA) was flooded due to a breach in the levee.

Small gaps in such a levee can easily be filled with sandbags if enough of them are around and there are enough people to fill and place the bags. However a larger breech can be filled easier with this “NOLA Dam it All” system.

Whenever a levee is breached, the first step should be to float a barge, laden with sand, to the spot. The outside hull would have attached to it a metal dam that would be lowered into the muddy bank and the weight of the barge would create a temporary dyke and hold back the flow of water. More than one could be used for larger gaps.

Each barge would be equipped with a dredge that would deepen the channel and pump mud up to the barge. The dredging would create more space in the basin holding the water providing a partial solution. Not wasting the mud, the barge would mix it with sand and pump the combination into a burlap hose designed to fit the dimension of the pump’s outflow. The burlap would be pulled over the pump outlet similar to sausage casing, and its end tied off. As the slurry of mud and sand is pumped through the burlap hose, the water would drain out leaving a sausage of mud and sand.

The first segment would be anchored into the mud on the water side of the levee so that later water pressure would keep it in place. We would tie off each 10 foot segment to form the sausage and using a slippery ramp allow the completed section to slide into the breach, zig zagging back and forth until we fill the complete gap.

At this point the barge could lift its temporary dam (that is attached to its side) and move on to another location. The operation would take very little time and after the water settles down the burlap would disintegrate allowing the mud to form a strengthened levee.

All the parts of this system exist and can be purchased off the shelf with little or no additional investment.


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  • Name:
    Balint Szent Miklosy
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