US Army Corps of Engineers
Charleston District

Hydraulic Sandbag Machine Helps Fill the Gap

Published Dec. 12, 2018
Filling Sandbags for Georgetown County

Emergency Operations Planner Andrew Fleming, Louisville District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, operates a hydraulic sandbag filler in Horry County, S.C., in support of Hurricane Florence flood risk management efforts underway across the region here, Sept. 16, 2018. The sandbagging system can generally fill up to 500 sandbags per hour and greatly enhances USACE’s ability to provide sandbags during natural disasters. Since arriving in S.C., Fleming’s has worked with the local Army National Guard units to fill more than 5,500 sandbags since his arrival following the storm. When disasters occur, USACE teams and other resources are mobilized from across the country to assist FEMA, state and county efforts regarding flood response. (U.S. Army photo by Edward N. Johnson)

Filling Sandbags for Georgetown County

Emergency Operations Manager George Minges (right) and Maintenance Mechanic Bryan Whitler, both from the Louisville District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, operate a hydraulic sandbag filling machine in Georgetown County, S.C., in support of Hurricane Florence flood risk management efforts underway across the region here, Sept.21, 2018. The custom built machine can generally fill up to 500 sandbags per hour and greatly enhances USACE’s ability to provide sandbags during natural disasters. Today, the USACE sandbag machine crew were able to exceed normal production capacity by filling sandbags at a rate of 700 per hour. When disasters occur, USACE teams and other resources are mobilized from across the country to assist County and State efforts regarding flood response. (U.S. Army photo by Edward N. Johnson)

Filling Sandbags for Georgetown County

Emergency Operations Manager George Minges (right) and Emergency Operations Planner Andrew Fleming, both from the Louisville District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, operate an hydraulic sandbag filler in Horry County, S.C., in support of Hurricane Florence flood risk management efforts underway across the region here, Sept. 17, 2018. The sandbagging system can generally fill up to 500 sandbags per hour and greatly enhances USACE’s ability to provide sandbags during natural disasters. Since arriving in S.C., the team has worked with the local Army National Guard units to fill more than 5,500 sandbags. When disasters occur, USACE teams and other resources are mobilized from across the country to assist FEMA, state and county efforts regarding flood response. (U.S. Army photo by Edward N. Johnson)

When it comes to disaster response, one of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ top priorities is supporting immediate life-saving and public safety efforts in partnership with FEMA, state and local emergency management officials.

Meeting this priority often includes providing sandbags and other resources to protect vital roadways and critical infrastructure during a flood event.

Following the impact of Hurricane Florence, this priority was met, in part, by rapidly deploying the latest emergency management equipment on-hand in the USACE inventory.

This piece of equipment, known as a hydraulic sandbag filler, made its way here from the USACE Louisville District while the storm was still raging across the region.

“Once called upon to deploy, we literally packed our bags and hit the road with the sandbag filler in tow,” said Louisville District’s Emergency Operations Manager George Minges. “Once we arrived, we began helping produce sandbags around-the-clock at multiple locations.”

Between their work supporting the coastal counties of Horry and Georgetown, Minges’ team filled more than 25,000 bags working hand-in-hand with members of the South Carolina Army National Guard, as well as state, county and municipal personnel.

Under normal conditions the machine can fill up to 500 bags per hour, but during this mission the sandbagging machine crew often exceeded that capacity.

“Our goal was to fill more than 6,000 sandbags for the Georgetown municipality,” said Minges. “We were getting really good numbers there and at one point were filling just under 700 sandbags per hour with the help of our local and state partners.”

Minges went on to say he was happy to a part of this flood mitigation effort and was proud of the work he and his team did to help local municipalities impacted by flooding.

Jud Kneuvean, Kansas District readiness contingency operations chief, deployed to Horry County and echoes that sentiment.

“The hydraulic sandbag filling machine greatly increased our ability to serve the public,” said Kneuvean. “With this capability, we can reduce the need for personnel on the front end, which is the most labor intensive, and focus on getting sandbags to where they are needed as quickly as possible.”