Meade County buys 20,000 sandbags

March 30, 2019

STURGIS — Meade County purchased 20,000 sandbags “just in case” areas of the county experience flooding this spring.

Doug Huntrods, Meade County emergency manager, along with Jerry Derr, Meade County Commission assistant, said in doing research, they believe the county should have 15,000 to 20,000 sandbags available.

“That’s what a lot of counties seem to keep on hand,” Huntrods told commissioners at their meeting Tuesday.

Flooding throughout the Midwest has caused increased need for sandbags, so Derr wasn’t sure how readily available the bags might be.

The county did not budget for sandbags, but there is a contingency fund in the emergency management department for such a purchase, Derr said.

“Do you want to have bags on hand and be prepared in advance, or do you want to wait until something happens and reach out and see what the need is?” Derr asked.

Commissioner Doreen Creed said she believed the situation with sandbags may be akin to the popular toy at Christmastime.

“When you need it or want it, you might not find it,” she said of the sandbags. “We are surrounded by people experiencing flooding right now. I wouldn’t mind having them on hand.”

The county currently has only 3,000 sandbags and the city of Sturgis has about 500, Huntrods said.

The bags have been ordered through Stan Houston Equipmenat Company of Rapid City and the county should take delivery early next week, Derr said.

Creed asked Huntrods how big of an area 1,000 sandbags would cover.

Huntrods said it depended on how high the bags would need to be stacked.

“If you’re talking about a sandbag wall, you’re talking tens of thousands,” he said.

Huntrods said while serving as emergency manager in Lake County they made sandbags from the bags that are used for bulk seed or bulk fertilizer. Those bags are about 4-foot by 4-foot.

“You can’t put as much sand in those as you do seed or fertilizer because of the strength of the bag, but you can build a pretty quick wall with those,” he said.

He said maybe the county should consider keeping some of those bags on hand for sandbagging.

“They take up more space, but take less manpower to fill if you have the need,” he said.

Meade County does have an automated sandbag machine, which they loaned to Pierre when there was Missouri River flooding in 2011.

“We have a machine at the highway department that does the sandbagging. That has been put on a trailer to make it mobile. The machine is a sand spreader that has been modified. Instead of a fan to disperse the sand, it dumps it into a chute,” Huntrods said.

The county highway department has sand available to fill the sandbags.

Anyone in Meade County who has a need for sandbags because of spring flooding should call Derr at (605) 720-1625.

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