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Pinellas County will no longer offer sand bags | News

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Pinellas County will no longer offer sand bags
Pinellas County will no longer offer sand bags

Pinellas County no longer offers sand bags to residents of unincorporated areas of the county during hurricane season.

The county was forced to reevaluate the effectiveness of the sand bags after flooding in 2004 – the record-breaking year when four hurricanes hit the Florida peninsula. Now, officials urge residents not to rely on sand bags to save their homes from flooding during heavy rainfall.

“Sand bags are intended for small water flow protection up to 2 feet. They don’t seal out water and offer very little resistance to flooding,” said Pete Yauch, the county’s director of transportation and stormwater.  “The 35- to 40-pound bags would take considerable effort and time to stack enough of them to have even a minimal effect. Moving water would be able to pick up the sand bags.”

The county has been working with the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes to help dispel some of the hurricane myths and eliminate the false sense of security some residents feel by using sand bags.

A quick Internet search will show a great number of companies manufacturing systems to help reduce or eliminate flooding. One of the options is a type of sandbag made of absorbent materials that rehydrate when exposed to water, water-filled barriers or physical barriers mounted to the home’s structure.  Consumers are advised to check several sources, get customer reviews and check the license of any contractor installing a system at their home. 

However, there are individual cities in the county that offer sandbag sites. Residents should check with their municipality for exactly what is offered, the latest information and updates. Although the county does not provide sandbags, these are some recommendations for those who decide to utilize sandbags: 

  • Take care in stacking sand bags
  • If placed too early, they may not be effective when needed
  • Limit placement to three layers, unless a building is used as a backing or sand bags are placed in a pyramid
  • Tamp each sand bag into place, completing each layer prior to starting the next layer
  • Clear a path between buildings for debris flow
  • Lay a plastic sheet between the building and the bags to control the water flow and prevent water from seeping into sliding glass doors

To properly dispose of used sandbags, please do the following:

  • Uncontaminated dry sand can be recycled and reused.
  • Empty damaged bags can be placed in the trash.
  • Contact Pinellas County Solid Waste for additional disposal options at 727-464-7500.

For more information about sandbags, visit www.pinellascounty.org/emergency/sandbags.htm.

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