Home & Garden

Americans Use These Portable Dams to Save Their Homes from Floods

An example of an AquaDam used during a flood in Natchitoches, Louisiana in 2015 Facebook/AquaDam

Editor's note: This article was originally published in 2017. 

When former Rosharon, Texas resident Randy Wagner surrounded his house with an AquaDam in 2016 to prevent it from flooding, he probably never realized how many people would hear his story and be inspired.

After Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston in 2017, Wagner's story went viral. Many people mistakenly thought the pictures were from Hurricane Harvey, but they were actually from the 2016 Tax Day Flood.

As it turns out, Wagner wasn't the only one to use an AquaDam to save his home. Other Texans are now sharing their stories of how water-filled cofferdams have saved their homes.

KPRC reports Randy and Jennifer Socha, of Rosenberg, Texas, were concerned when they heard the news about Hurricane Harvey before the flooding began. In 2016, their home weathered floodwaters.

In 2017, they chose to face Harvey's waters head on by installing a water dam. They called AquaDam to expedite a unit from Louisiana to their Texas home, and were able to install it before the floodwaters reached their home.

The model they purchased cost roughly $18,000, which may seem pricey, but it pales in comparison to the $150,000 cost to remodel their flooded home last year. "It's like fighting water with water," Randy Socha told Houston's KPRC.

Lake Jackson resident Brian Shandley bought a used dam for $1,200 from some rice farmers in El Campo. While the cost was minimal, Shandley said using the dam took a lot of labor. "I have eight sump pumps lined up on those PVC columns around the house, and there's sump holes there so it's constant, because the water leaches underneath it," Shandley told KPRC.

Even Texas highways are using the water-filled dams. Bloomberg reported that AquaDam sent $1.2 million worth of portable dam tubing to Houston to make I-10 safe to drive on.

How They Work

The AquaDam is just one brand of a water-filled portable dam. They're essentially tubes made of waterproof fabric, which sit inside a larger tube. Pumps move water from the flood itself into the tubes.

Imagine two smaller water balloons inside a larger balloon. The weight acts as a barrier, much the same way sandbags have done for generations. The difference is that the AquaDam uses the flood water at hand, rather than taking hours to fill sandbags.

As flooding continues, water needs to be continuously pumped outside the barrier. It's labor-intensive, but it seems to work.

As for Randy Wagner of Rosharon, whose story about the AquaDam first caught the nation's attention: We reached out to him to see how he fared during Harvey. Wagner informed Wide Open Country that he has since sold his Rosharon Home and commented, "I hope the family is putting it to good use. It is a good product."

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Americans Use These Portable Dams to Save Their Homes from Floods