By Devin Ricci
The City of Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas have been struck by devastating floods. Thousands were stranded. The roadways to their homes are flooded and most impassable. Flooding is not new to Louisiana. Just over ten years ago, the state experienced one of the most devastating natural disasters on record with Hurricane Katrina. Since then, numerous other storms have taken swipes at the state – Gustav, Rita, Isaac, to name a few. 2016 has been the year of unnamed storms thus far for the citizens of Louisiana. Alexandria, Monroe, Shreveport, and Lake Charles each flooded in the months preceding the “Great Flood of 2016” currently affecting Baton Rouge.
Storms are uncontrollable, but as a patent attorney, I turn to technology that we can control for assistance in the aftermath. There is a glimmer of hope that we are not alone, that similar events throughout the world have resulted in great innovations some of which are currently being implemented throughout Baton Rouge to speed the recovery and rescue stranded citizens. These innovations are far and wide, including solar technology, mobile cell phone towers, power stations, water filtration apparatuses. Even the oft-hated drones are being used to locate people and assess flooding from vantage points that would have previously been limited to helicopters.
One of the more popular examples of these innovations is the Aqua Dam by Layfield, which is being used across the area to block water from roadways. We have all heard the moniker that you cannot fight fire with fire; the Aqua Dam is proof, however, that you may be able to hold off water with water. Patented as U.S. Patent nos. 8,840,338 in 2014 and 9,297,133 in 2016, the Aqua Dam is a portable reservoir body apparatus comprising a plurality of interior bladders contained within an exterior housing (the outer tube). The interior bladders are filled with fluids causing them to expand and fill the cavity of the outer tube. The unit further comprises a series of fasteners to maintain its shape, thereby creating a displacement dam which prevents the passage of water. These units are being used on the interstate, major highways and bridges. In most instances, the flood water is being pumped straight from the road into the dam being formed to keep the water at bay, opening the roadways.
To the folks at Layfield, we salute you and appreciate your innovative contributions. The Aqua Dam structures have and will continue to open our roadways, allowing evacuees to escape and rescuers to enter flooded areas. To others, and particularly the citizens of Louisiana, please keep innovating. We cannot prevent all future flooding, but we can help diminish their impact with innovations like these.
This article first appeared on the Louisiana Law Blog here