Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A flood recovery solution MacGyver would be proud of

By Patricia Billinger
Let’s play a game I’ll call “Name that tool.”
Take a look at this picture:

Now, I’ll give you three guesses what the wood thing in the trailer is used for.
…Nope, it’s not part of a house or for constructing a house.
…No, it’s not a fence of some sort.
….Not scaffolding, either, although that’s not far off.

Give up? It’s a bridge. And not just any bridge: this bridge is mobile; it’s in a trailer so that the Glen Haven community can take it anywhere it might be needed to provide access over rivers and streams that are otherwise currently impassible.

The mobile bridge was the brainchild of a Southern Baptist Disaster Relief visiting volunteer, who was here to help with flood relief efforts but who also happened to be a civil engineer. One of the many challenges facing communities recovering from the 2013 floods is that countless small bridges were damaged or destroyed during the floods, eliminating crucial access points to homes and property on the other side of waterways.

The civil engineer got to work designing a bridge that could be easily assembled, disassembled, and moved – providing an alternative to the more costly and time-consuming solution of constructing more durable bridges. The Red Cross purchased the materials for the bridge, and a team of Southern Baptist Convention volunteers constructed it in a single day.

Most recently, Glen Haven leaders were putting the bridge to use on a section of the North Fork river to enable access forest service land along highway 43 so they can clean up flood debris that was washed downstream.

“The bridge that the Southern Baptists built, that’s been quite a Godsend because it has helped us help the forest service clean up non-organic debris downstream,” said Dave Johnson, president of the Glen Haven Association. He said the clean-up effort has allowed Glen Haven residents to retrieve a variety of items that washed downstream during the flood, such as “artifacts, merchandise, private property, a section of a table – we even found a complete roof of one of our buildings,” he said.

“A lot of that debris is from Glen Haven, so we’re able to get things back that belong to downtown Glen Haven,” said Linda Lambert of the Glen Haven Fire Department, which is managing the use of the bridge. “They’re pretty happy to have it back because I know, in [one business owner’s] case, it’s all she has left of her house and business.”

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