Few places in North America are not susceptible to flooding.
There are several reasons why a flood will occur:
- Too much rain, too fast and limited ability of a city’s internal system to handle all that water
- Melting ice often combined with rain which combined overruns a city’s internal system
- High winds fomenting wave action and super high winds causing storm surges resulting in rivers and lakes over topping dikes.
Governments, whether federal, state, or provincial, cannot afford to build fully protective systems for every stream, creek, river or lake.
When a flood is about to occur, the conventional method of protecting people and property is through
- dike systems already in place
- emergency dikes constructed with heavy equipment specifically for a flood event and later taken down
- sandbag barriers explicitly constructed for a flood event and later taken down
- commercially available re-usable products act as temporary flood barriers and are later removed and stored for further use.
No one particular flood mitigation effort or product is universally ideal for all flooding situations!
Inflatable Barriers offer certain advantages over other flood mitigation products as follows:
- They can be quickly filled to surround the property or divert flood waters away from properties at risk of damage.
- They are economical because they are re-usable multiple times.
- They can be transported to other locations relatively easily at little cost.
- There is virtually no maintenance required to store the barriers.
- They have a usable “life” of 15-20 years.
Inflatable Barriers have some disadvantages as follows:
- Most require a water source, and a suitable method of filling determined the total volume of water needed, e.g. garden hose or pump?
- Inflatable barriers can be punctured, and depending on where the puncture occurs, and the size of the hole, it may cause the barrier to fail.
- Water seepage under the barrier structure, if not dealt with (pumped back out over the barrier), may cause the barrier to “float,” and the structure will fail.
- Flood waters may “over-top” the barrier due to a) the height of the floodwaters, and therefore the height of the barrier was underestimated, or b) wave action caused by high winds may push water over the barrier, c) groundwater may percolate up through the soil behind the barrier-if not dealt with, overtopping and percolation may cause the barrier to float, and the structure may fail.
It should be noted that over-topping is a problem faced by all barrier systems, not just inflatable barriers.