It’s been something of a wet January here in the UK. Snow has been relatively rare but flooding and flood warnings are all too common. For the self-sufficient individual, defence against potential flooding is something that needs to be considered during such weather. There’s few things quite like a flood to destroy your hard work, whether it be your home, permaculture garden or whatever other plan you may have had.
Hopefully as somebody with the desire to be as independent living as possible you made sure your home and property aren’t located in an area likely to flood. However, if for whatever reason it is in an area with a risk of flooding you’ll want to take steps incase of difficulty. Some local authorities and councils can provide sandbags for protection against flooding. However these are almost always in short supply and in case of serious water rising will likely run out quickly.
The other alternative easy alternative is to buy your own. However these have their own challenges in including delivery (sand bags are heavy and can’t go through the post!) and cost. The self-sufficient individual likely looks at the Sandbag, sees it as what it is i.e. a bag full of sand, and concludes “I could do that”.
Sand Bag Building 101
It’s true that a Sandbag really isn’t a very complicated thing and that by purchasing it you are largely paying for convenience. However it’s a significant amount of convenience when you consider how much work it is to fill a sandbag. A typical sandbag weight about 15kg which takes a fair bit of time to fill and usually requires two people working together – one to shovel and one to keep the sandbag open while it is filled.
Materials are obviously important for building a sandbag. Sacking and sand can be acquired from DIY stores and builders merchants. Sand typically is favoured because it is comparatively light when dry but is also absorbent which helps block water from getting through. Sacks made for the purposes of sandbagging tend to be made organically and allow the water to seep into the sand itself. Though tough enough to hold the sand in, they will biodegrade over time and thus can only be used for temporary flood defence.
These ideal materials however are highly sought after in the event flooding starts. Therefore it’s greatly advised to prepare ahead of time and make sure you get your own supplies in place before the rush starts during flooding season.
Emergency Sand Bagging
That said, it’s the sudden unexpected floods that are most dangerous for even the self-sufficient individual. In an emergency, makeshift sand bags can be put together using bin sacks, plastic bags and even pillow cases filled with soil from the garden. Though far less absorbent than proper sand, these makeshift bags can help temporarily slow the encroachment of flood water onto your premises. For maximum protection however it is important to use plastic sheeting alongside sandbags to minimize the water that gets through.