Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

'Spider' speeds up sandbag work

  • Print

It's been dubbed "the octopus" or "the spider," but a more appropriate nickname for this 12-legged sand-filling weapon could be "the defender."

For the last week the Sandbagger has helped St. Andrews residents scramble to fill thousands of sandbags to protect area homes against the rising threat of the Red River. It may also be part of the reason Fargo isn't underwater.

The Sandbagger can fill 12 sandbags in just 7.5 seconds, making the backbreaking labour a lot more efficient, and fun for volunteers. Sand travels up a conveyor belt and gets dumped into the machine's funnel, that distributes the sand to 12 separate chutes.

Volunteers armed with empty sandbags must be ready for the quick dump of sand, and speedily pass it off down an assembly line consisting of bag tiers, bag passers and bag tossers.

The machine is the brainchild of Elie resident Guy Bergeron, a former gravel pit operator who vowed to invent a quick way to sandbag after his St. Eustache home was threatened by floodwater in the mid-1970s. Bergeron's creation was added to Manitoba's flood-fighting arsenal in 1997, and helped keep Fargo residents high and dry from the surge of floodwater so far this year.

"At Fargo they said there's no way they would have been able to hold the river back without it,' said Bergeron, standing near his invention at the St. Andrews Fire Hall. "Even here, I'm told with the flood threat they wouldn't be able to keep up without it."

It takes a team of 60 volunteers to operate the Sandbagger smoothly, and the device can fill up to 5,000 sandbags an hour if it's running at full speed.

Bergeron isn't sure how much faster that is than shovelling, but suspects it must be significant -- he's already received constant thank-yous from residents north and south of the border.

"It's a nice feeling to see it's helping out," he said.

On Tuesday, volunteers from Rosedale Colony and Manitoba Métis Federation rolled up their sleeves along with other community members to try to keep up with the Sandbagger's fast pace.

Katheryn Walder laughed and said she isn't as quick as the machine -- and the amount of sand in her shoes is proof.

 

"It's very nice to help out," Walder said. "You have to be pretty quick and after you have to clean up the mess."

Manitoba Métis Federation employees Debbie Baker and Rosemary Rozyk were told to take the day off work to help the flood flight. Despite the frantic rush to fill and tie thousands of bags, Rozyk said the volunteers were just as hardy as the sand-funneling device.

"Everybody's pulling together," she said. "It's like a well-oiled machine."

jen.skerritt@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 1, 2009 A4

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Public finally sees inside the Museum for Human Rights

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A pelican comes in for a landing Wednesday afternoon on the Red River at Lockport, Manitoba - Standup photo- June 27, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Water lilys are reflected in the pond at the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden Tuesday afternoon. Standup photo. Sept 11,  2012 (Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you support Canada's involvement in the fight against Islamic State?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google