Manatee County: Sandbag machines could streamline hurricane prep

Manatee County commissioners on Tuesday will discuss whether to purchase automated sandbagging machines that could be used to help homeowners and renters prepare for hurricanes.

The county is considering a request by the Public Works Department to buy five "high-volume sandbagging machines," that would cost a total of $99,653.

According to the proposal, the machines, created by the Burcham Bagger company, could speed up and streamline the sandbagging process, increase production capabilities and reduce the number of county workers needed to assist residents.

The idea comes after a review of Hurricane Irma, during which it took five days for folks in Manatee County to fill up approximately 150,000 sandbags. More than 100 staff members were also needed.

Officials estimate each Burcham Bagger machines would be able to produce roughly 700 bags per hour, totaling 42,000 every 12 hours. Five staff members would be needed to assist at each machine.

Each machine would also be programmed to fill bags with the exact amount of sand needed and sew the bags shut.

The commission is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday.