........The Cajun Contractor, Michael King.........
..................Michael King
...........The Cajun Contractor




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  Michael King Tip: PLASTIC SHEETING HELPS KEEP FLOODWATER OUT


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Plastic sheeting is a versatile flood barrier. Using it in a sand bag levee significantly improves the levee’s performance. It also can be used against a building’s outside walls to provide temporary protection. The plastic can be on a support structure away from the building, so landscaping around the building is not displaces and the building does not feel the force of water on its walls. You must, however, block doors, windows, small drains and other openings and prevent sewer backup when you make a temporary flood barrier with plastic sheeting.

COST AND CONSIDERATIONS:
When plastic is supported on the building, the wall is expose to the unbalanced force of water on one side. Properly constructed walls in good condition should be able to withstand the pressure of 3 feet of water, but buildings poorly constructed or suffering from decay or termite damage may not. Depending on the duration of flooding and the ease with which water flows through the soil, the slab may be exposed to buoyant (upward) force. In a flooded building, this is balanced by the weight of water above the slab, but when floodwater is excluded, the unbalanced buoyant force may cause damage. Wrapping is most suited to areas with clay soils, where floods are short in duration and where flood levels are below 3 feet. Using a temporary wrap avoids moisture problems that may be associated with permanent coatings. Buildings on piers or pilings are more difficult to wrap than buildings on slabs. Plastic supported on barriers other than the wall can be used to protect such buildings. The materials required to wrap a 1500 square foot building on a slab with 6 mil polyethylene cost about $500. The cost increases significantly if you hold the plastic away from the building on a temporary structure. You can make a support system out of wood, aluminum, steel or other material. It must be strong enough and anchored well enough to withstand the force of floodwater. Consult an engineer and confirm the adequacy of the design and materials you plan to use. A commercially constructed barrier system with heavy weight plastic and a steel support framework comes in heights ranging from 3 to 10 feet. A 3-foot-high system rents for about $20 per linear foot, including installation and post-flood removal.
TIPS

  • Do not attempt to construct temporary barriers to withstand water depths of more that 3 feet.
  • Prevent tears in the plastic by reinforcing it with duct tape wherever nails penetrate or the plastic will rub on sharp objects.
  • Use heavier plastic when floating debris may strike the film.
  • Practice installing your wrap or barrier system, including closures for windows, doors and other openings.
  • Install valves in sewer lines to prevent back-flow.
  • Have one or more sump areas and pumps to discharge water that leaks or seeps in. If your temporary barrier stands away from the building, remember to consider rain inside the barrier when estimating your equipments.
  • Have an evacuation plan. Structural failure or over toping can result in sudden and forceful entry of floodwater. Plan when you will abandon a flood flight and save your life.

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