Not enough sandbags or time to wait for them? Try these hacks

People are waiting hours for sandbags, but if you don't have time or waited too long, here's some advice.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Long lines again in the Tampa Bay area Thursday, with some people waiting up to three hours just to get their hands on some sandbags.

But a lot of you have been telling us you don't have time to wait in those long lines, and in some places they're even running out of materials.

So, here are some of the alternatives you can try in a pinch -- and at least one thing cops would rather you not do.

First, don’t do what Wes was doing.

Wes says he and his family came to Gandy Beach on Thursday to load several trash bags with sand. He’s desperate to safeguard their home, and between his and his wife’s jobs there’s not enough time, he says, to wait in long lines. 

“So we came down to the beach and did it ourselves. I mean, got to be prepared at least some way,” he said.

Nearby, a woman was doing the same thing for the same reason. That is, until we told her and Wes what cops told us.

Technically, taking sand from a beach or even the side of the road is considered the destruction of public property. You could get fined – even arrested.

Both were surprised and both found it hard to believe anyone would enforce such a law at this point.

“It's Florida,” said the woman who said she’s from Indian Rocks Beach, “There's sand everywhere.”

“What are they going to do? Let our houses get flooded?” asked Wes. “This is the best case scenario we could come up with.”

In St. Petersburg they’ve been filling 40,000 sandbags an hour at times. Yet cars are lined up with people waiting two to three hours.

“I mean, it's definitely a massive storm and something to take seriously,” said one woman who had waited just over two hours. “Obviously, it is sunshine and rainbows right now, but that could change.”

“You know, the models are pretty accurate. But, you know, I'm not going to bet on them,” said Mark Hunt, who waited nearly three hours in line.

Volunteer Kelly Anderson, who was helping people fill and load bags, says part of the problem is that not all the people getting sandbags will likely need them based on where they tell him they live.

“Everybody in it for themselves,” said Kelly. “I heard somebody say that yesterday when he was here and complaining about getting just 10 sandbags.”

Part of that could be driven by people who say they just can't shake images of what happened during Hurricane Harvey in Texas. 

“I think that plays a big role, more so what we saw last year with Matthew,” said Steven Pierce, after waiting nearly three hours for 10 sandbags.

So if the rush continues, and there's not enough sand or enough time - then what?

Well, here are some sandbag hacks so you could try on your own.

Start with trash bags, filling them with sand, and then using duct tape to seal them tight. It also might sound crazy, but some people say they’ve had success partially filling those same bags with water. It acts similarly to sand, by filling the gaps and spaces.

Another idea? In Texas, some folks say they had success cutting a yoga mat into thin strips, taking that spongy material, and pushing it into the crevices where water could get in. The material then expands back into shape to help fill those gaps. 

And Kelly Anderson says at his own house, instead of sandbags, he's used a sheet of thick plastic weighed down by bricks, paint cans, or anything heavy. 

“It worked. It was effective,” said Anderson. “It kept water out of our garage when it lapped at the door.”

If you do try to make your own sandbags, local officials say stick with the sand, dirt or other materials you have around your own house on your own property.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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