Hurricanes tend to leave behind a nasty trail of destruction, and the southern east coast is no stranger to those situations. Mostly recently, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have caused quite a massive amount of damage along the Gulf Coast, focusing mainly on Texas and Florida. Because of the sheer force and size of these recent storms, they’ve brought along a ton of rain. With this rain come all kinds of not-so-great surprises in the sun-filled days to follow. This is where dredging comes into play.
What exactly is dredging?
According to the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), dredging is the removal of sediments and debris from the bottom of lakes, rivers, harbors, and other water bodies. It is a routine necessity in waterways around the world because of sedimentation—the natural process of sand and silt washing downstream—gradually fills channels and harbors (NOAA.gov). Dredging is extremely important in major cities that produce a lot of pollutants. This is called environmental dredging. It’s beneficial to wildlife as well as human life, eliminating that risk of exposure to elements that could make a living thing ill or worse.
Why is dredging important post-hurricane?
A hurricane can kick up a lot of yucky stuff, especially in an area with a lot of water surrounding it or in an area below sea level. Guaranteed it will cause some flooding, and unfortunately, it’s not always just water that floods. Raw sewage is a big risk factor after a bad enough storm such as Harvey or Irma. Without dredging, that means sewage could mix with natural water resources and taint a city’s, or county's, water supply. Or it could be just as bad, possibly worse, and much more morbid such as hundreds of cases of washed away gravesites.
What happens during the dredging process?
There are two types of dredging, hydraulic and mechanical. Hydraulic dredging is less invasive, by stirring up the sediment at the bottom of the pond or lake (or flooded area in this case), mixing sediment with water, so it is conveniently pumped out of the area for disposal. Mechanical dredging incorporates the use of actual earth moving tools to remove the sediment. Something like this would be more useful for flooded areas not normally filled with water, such as that which happens after a hurricane.
Dredging post-hurricane ensures that the area you’re living in will remain safe even after a natural disaster. It keeps your water decontaminated as well as eliminating other nefarious toxins that could be lurking in flooded waters after the storm.