A new style of sandbag is being put to the test in downtown Davenport as the Mississippi River overflows its banks. Steve Webster owns Solar Visions, which installs sunroofs in cars on Davenport’s River Drive. He’s invested in what are called “Hesco” barriers and has protected his business from the flood with the large, interlocking, steel contraptions.

“It is a wire mesh with reinforced corners and they’re lined,” Webster says. “They come in about a four-by-four foot section and you grab one end and somebody grabs the other end, and it folds out into a 15-foot section. You fill these things with sand and away you go.”

He says the 150-feet of Hesco barriers cost around $4,000 which he says likely wouldn’t even have bought him the empty sandbags he would have needed. Unlike sandbags, he says the Hesco barriers are reusable.

“What used to take us two weeks to do took us five hours,” Webster says. “Instead of having 50 people, we had four. You just fill them with an end-loader. I’m pretty sure they’d stop a tank. They’re four foot wide and four foot tall and there’s some definite weight to them.”

Another plus, he says the bottoms of the devices have flaps, so when the floodwaters recede, the barriers can be picked up by a piece of heavy equipment and the sand dumps right out. He says after sandbagging to save his riverside business year after year, this is a perfect replacement.

“We had to find another solution to this as this is just getting silly around here,” Webster says. “I’d definitely recommend it. For one, you’re not filling up a landfill with the 12,000 bags that we would normally use.”

He says he bought the barriers from a company in Louisiana. The U.S. military also uses the barriers to ring embassies and other key buildings for protection against blasts and projectiles.