2017 brought record snow fall to the Northwest region of the United States and has been affectionately referred to as the year of ‘Snowmageddon’ where the Tahoe Basin received 238” of snow in January alone and the snow kept coming. The spring melt brought widespread flooding where governmental organizations and residential home owners alike needed to purchase flood barriers in California, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Utah, and Washington alike. It was an unprecedented season of snow, ice, and flooding. Skiing enthusiasts throughout the area still reflect on 2017 with a ‘100 yard stare’ and a perma-grin smeared across their face with one simple word to describe it…..WOW!!
Nevada has unique geography in that many of their lakes are ‘terminal lakes,’ which means they have no outlet. When the snow melts, the run-off water generally ends up in a terminal lake and is left to evaporation during the hot summers. This keeps lake levels from flooding the surrounding homes and communities. With the massive snowpack, Washoe County, Nevada had significant problems brewing and deployed several miles of HESCO flood barriers as well as water filled flood barriers known as the Tiger Dam flood protection system to protect their citizens. It was a good decision as the flood protection system did stop floodwater for an extended period of time before evaporation could bring multiple of their terminal lakes back down to acceptable levels.
HESCO flood barriers are commonly left in place for many years but in most cases, they are removed shortly after the flood threat subsides. Due to the slow rates of evaporation and seasonal snowpacks, the flood barriers deployed by Washoe County and The City of Reno Nevada were left in place for about 4.5 years until it was time to remove them. This brings on the question of ‘how do you remove HESCO flood barriers?
How to Remove a HESCO Barrier Using the HESCO Lifting Beam
There are a variety of different ways that the HESCO flood barrier is removed. The most common ways of removal include:
- Demolition with mechanical equipment: Machinery such as a backhoe fitted with a demolition grapple or clam shell bucket works well. These accessories can grip wire mesh and separate it from the soil during the tear out process. This process mangles the wire making it somewhat more difficult to dispose of but the most common way we see.
- Cutting out and removing panels individually: This is a time-consuming process and not as commonly used. However, it makes it easier to flat pack the panels recovered for disposal or recycling.
- HESCO Lifting Beam or HESCO Recovery Beam: This is the process deployed here. The beam itself is somewhat expensive at around $6,000 plus an average of about $1,000 to ship it. These beams are sometimes available for rent as well. There are also some customers who fabricate their own recovery beam. The use of a recovery beam is more common with customers who deploy significant amounts of HESCO Bastion flood barriers.
The HESCO Recovery Frame is designed for lifting of the selected units and allowing the fill material to drop out and subsequently be repalletized. It is a quick and simple process.
- Remove 2 joining pins connecting individual units of HESCO
- Center the lifting recovery beam over the HESCO unit to be removed
- Attach clamps or ‘claws’ to the welded wire mesh
- Attach a bungee cord to each claw in order to keep it in the correct position for lifting
- Lift the beam and allow the soil fill material to simply fall out the bottom.
- Fold up the empty HESCO for palletization and removal.
Can the HESCO Bastion be reused?
The manufacturer of HESCO Bastion will call this product ‘recoverable’ but will never use the word ‘reusable’. The reason for this terminology is a direct result of perceived liability associated with using a product that had been previously deployed and removed for flood defense operations.
The HESCO Bastion product has been developed and tested over the years based on the weld strength of the welded wire mesh and environmental resistance of the wire and the geotextile fabric, respectively. When removing the HESCO Bastion product, significant weld stress can occur as units are lifted to allow the fill material to fall out the bottom and a percentage of irreparably damaged units can be expected. As a result of this, product weld strength comes into question such that liability prohibits the claim or suggestion that the product is ‘reusable’.
There was a span of a few years that HESCO Bastion would deploy teams to ‘re-fit’ used HESCO product for the federal USACE flood defense barrier contract. This could/would entail removal of damaged coils and wire panels as well as swapping out the geotextile liner when the situation called for it. However, that practice only lasted a limited number of years and is no longer available. It is our belief that this was due to a combination of the service expense and liability of used units versus the expense of new product as the situation required. It is largely because used HESCO flood barriers have no guarantee for weld strength or against weld failure for previously used material. For most governmental customers, this creates potential liability should there be a failure which is generally unacceptable, and it is for that reason, most governmental agencies will not re-use this product against flooding.
That being said, HESCO Bastion can be recovered and material that is not damaged can be subsequently re-filled. It is up to the end user to endorse its use as there would be no manufacturer warranty against failure but alternate uses for the product can be found.
Alternative Uses for HESCO Bastion
Some end users will ‘re-purpose’ these recovered HESCO units. While it is always up to the end user to decide, here are
some of the common uses of used HESCO Bastion:
- Build retaining walls or sound barriers with HESCO Bastion: Limitations would apply when if using recovered material but this product works really well to create retaining walls or raised flower beds.
- Bury it and create a reinforced berm for flood defense landscaping: We have seen this product used to create a reinforced berm that is capable of withstanding overtopping during a flood event. Alternatively, we have seen this product placed in a trench to just below ground level and filled with large stones to create large scale ‘French Drains’.
- Build a structure: HESCO Barriers have been used to build everything bunkers and houses to garages and schools. The ability to have a structure that is comprised of soil filled walls that can be 3’+ in thickness gives it fantastic insulation not to mention stability at a fraction of the cost of standard building materials. A roof structure is commonly placed over the top of the HESCO walls. If you want to build a DIY house or perhaps a ‘she-shed’, this could be a great option! You can even plum conduit pipes through (and throughout) your walls during the filling process for a variety of access reasons. You can also frame in windows, doors, or internal walls or floors. The versatility and ease of working with HESCO makes it really fun to work with and comparatively inexpensive for the solutions is can provide. If you want to build a DIY-house, we would love to help!
- Create a shooting range or create a shooting backstop with HESCO Bastion: HESCO is regularly used to create shooting ranges, shooting backstops and shooting berms. If HESCO barriers are used as a direct shooting backstop, maintenance is required over time. Similar applications when building a shooting range or a ballistic barrier with HESCO include wing walls for a shooting range, building a shoot house or vehicle assault bays for live fire exercises, raised platforms, and general compartmentalization of the shooting area to protect outlying areas from line of site projectiles like bullets. HESCO Bastion is also regularly used to store explosives in ammunition storage facilities and approved for use by the department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
HESCO barriers are easily described as soil filled building blocks, it is amazing what you can build with them where product limitations come down to the user’s imagination. When building with HESCO, they can be removed such that they can be filled and used for a variety of uses that comes down to the end users needs and imagination. It is the versatility that makes the HESCO Barrier such an amazing product its range of uses in addition to being one of the most widely used flood defense barriers in the USA, Canada, and around the world.
Flood Defense Group – HESCO, USA Distributor
If you have any questions or if we can help discuss any applications with this product, let us know! Flood Defense Group is the USA distributor for HESCO and well versed in building a huge variety of applications with this product! firstname.lastname@example.org
We would like to give special thanks to Taurus Construction out of Reno, Nevada. Taurus Construction www.taurusnv.com is a veteran owned, Nevada based company that traditionally offer like site grading, site clearing, and utility repair in Reno and Nevada at large. They execute a wide variety of services that even range from demolition to building parks and playgrounds. Taurus construction had the equipment and manpower to quickly execute the removal of the HESCO barriers for Washoe County and The City of Nevada and Flood Defense Group gives them the greatest recommendations possible in accomplishing the mission. They were quick, had great attention to detail, and were absolute professionals. Hoorah Taurus Construction!!