They figured they only had about 75 hours—the amount of time it would take before Ohio River crossed the shoreline and spread through the city of Smithland, Ky.
They are one of the many Louisville District flood fight teams that is responding to regional flooding within the Ohio River basin, flooding that has not been seen for nearly 75 years in some parts of the region.
When the team arrived in Smithland April 21, members immediately began assessing the situation.
“We quickly tried to determine the rate that the river was rising and what level of protection the city had,” said geotechnical engineer Steven Shifflett.
The rains kept coming, and river forecasts got progressively worse. The national weather service was predicting record rainfall. The team concluded that a barrier constructed of regular sandbags couldn’t be set up within 75 hours.
“Based on (calculation) and communication with EOC (Louisville District Emergency Operations Center), we determined that the Typar® geocell wall system was the best choice to stay in front of the rising water,” Shifflett said.
The cells are composed of a durable, nonwoven fabric. The cells come welded together and fit into a 12-foot metal cage frame. The bags are filled and the frame is removed.
The key component, according to Shifflett, is the honeycombed structure of the framed cells that fits together like a puzzle. The interlock of the cells reduces seepage, the movement of water within or through a structure.