Randy Wagner was minding his own business and doing his thing just like everyone else in his neighborhood in Rosharon, Texas was during the summer of 2017. No one expected a severe weather disaster to hit the Southern state that year, but then Mother Nature struck in the worst way possible and threatened Wagner's safety and those of his neighbors. But instead of panicking, he got crafty and took nature head-on, and his cool way of thinking proved to not only save his life, but save his property and everything on it, too.
The AquaDam is a unique invention that uses the same destructive force present in floods to save homes: water. By utilizing water in a unique way, Wagner was able to save his home, save his life and live to tell the story of that flood without tears. And the craziest thing was, no one believed he could do it before they saw his actions before their very eyes. And he's not the only person who has used this tested method to save his home from significant flooding and survive the harrowing situation.
A Man’s Home is His Castle
They say that a man’s home is his castle. Well, that’s exactly how Randy Wagner felt about his house. He had worked hard to own his property and he never imagined anyone or anything separating him or his family from their home. But Mother Nature had other plans during the summer of 2017, and like many other homeowners, they worried that their home and all of their belongings would be completely washed away due to extreme flooding. And as most people know, when a flood emerges, there's little that any person can do to stop it.
Texans Were No Stranger to Nature’s Wrath
Wagner and his neighbors were no stranger to nature’s wrath. The devastation Hurricane Harvey caused in 2017 in Texas was unimaginable. But more than a year before this horrific event, the residents of Brazoria County, Texas were plagued by yet another natural disaster. While most people in America may think of Texas as a dry state due to its proximity to drier states like New Mexico, Texas is a huge state with a variety of climates, and some counties in the southern state see an incredible amount of rain every single year.
Rainfall in Texas Was Record-Breaking
Most people assume that Texas is drier than a desert, but they’re wrong. The Lone Star state is famous for its rainfall, which can be record-breaking at times. And when this happens, the damage to property as a result of flooding is high. This is also something that homeowners aren't aware of before they purchase their property in Texas, which is quickly becoming a state that first-time home buyers are flocking to. Even with flood insurance taken out on your property, homeowners can never recreate the precious memories lost due to flood and extreme rain.
Flooding Was a Common Problem
Flooding had become a major issue in Texas in the spring of 2016. In fact, 16 people had lost their lives due to a previous flood. And officials were not willing to risk the lives of any more of their residents, so they put some extreme measures in place for future natural disasters. This partially alarmed residents, who hope that their flooding fears were behind them after the extreme weather of years past, but it also gave them hope to consider new methods of keeping their property safe from water and wind damage.
Nature’s Wrath Was Difficult to Avoid
Texans knew that trying to stop nature’s wrath was a little like trying to block out the sun with one finger. Once the rain started coming down, there was very little anyone could do but secure their properties, drive off to drier territory and hope their homes would still be there when they come back. But this method wasn't enough for some people, who were determined to protect their land or put themselves in harm's way while trying. Some people also considered the lives of their neighbors who couldn't possibly leave their homes, like the disabled and the elderly, who would need someone with them to wait out the floods.
They Had Been Warned
Meteorologists predicted heavy rain throughout various areas in Texas, So the local government issued a flood warning for these potentially affected areas. Unfortunately, some people didn’t take it seriously, which is ironic given that Texas had experienced a major flooding two months earlier. Some people didn't even bother to buy any extra supplies to have handy, like extra water or toilet paper, in case roads were difficult to travel on, let alone leave their homes unattended or take their valuables to a drier location. And these people were the ones who should have been more proactive, like their fellow Texan Randy Wagner.
The Warning Fell on Deaf Ears
In Wagner’s experience, most people wouldn’t adhere to a flood warning if it walked up and shook their hand. And he knew he could count his neighbors as these kinds of people. Some of them believed that a storm was coming, but that it couldn't possibly be as bad as other storms of years past. Some of his neighbors were even excited at the chance to catch some of the heavy rains on video. Then again, they hadn’t gone through what those in a neighboring city had gone through in 2016, when a flood devastated the city of Houston.
Flooding Overwhelmed the City’s Bayous
On April 20, 2016, a ton of locals and their pets were evacuated from their homes in the nearby city of Houston, Texas. And highways were even shut down when heavy rainfall overwhelmed the city’s bayous, creating this devastating scene in the middle of what is typically a busy street. The city's streets looked a lot more like rivers when multiple citizens used row bows to check on their neighbors and travel to the grocery store for desperately needed food. Sadly, Brazoria County was facing the same issue just weeks later.
Officials Ordered an Immediate Evacuation
In circumstances like these, officials order a mandatory evacuation, and this time was no different. So, an evacuation order was issued for Brazoria County in June 2016, but Wagner was very apprehensive about adhering to the rules. He, like many of his neighbors, didn't want to just stand idly by and watch the flood waves come in, but he also didn't want to abandon his home and all of his belongings completely by evacuating to another city. So, he decided to stay put and test out a new invention that many people said saved their property from flooding.
He Had Some Apprehension
Evacuation Centers are relatively safe during times of emergency. They provide food, blankets and in some cases, medical care for evacuees. The only stipulation is that evacuees often have to find their way to these centers on their own, which can cause a lot of problems in highly flooded areas. But many people need to stay in these shelters instead of at home because they are guaranteed to have water, food and electricity. The only problem for Wagner was that he didn’t really feel like staying in one of those centers for one important reason.
He Didn’t Want to Evacuate
Wagner didn’t like the idea of sitting inside an evacuation center until the storms passed and the waters receded for a very good reason. If he did this, he would likely come home and have to deal with some intense property damage. Flooding can not only cause all of your belongings to get wet, which is a disaster for electronics and papers, but floods can also cause structures to fall apart completely, leaving nothing but the foundation of a home left standing. He would rather do everything he could to keep his home and property safe instead of abandoning it.
Floods Cause Some Serious Damage
There are a lot of ways that floods can cause damage after a flood has come and gone. If the water isn’t cleaned up right away, it can lead to structural and electrical damage. It can even lead to landslides, which can cause evacuation notices to extend for days or even weeks, or damage nearby crops, leading to food and water shortages that can prolong suffering well after the rain has stopped. But there are health risks to floods as well, which is why so many people should consider evacuating areas that are in risk of flooding as quickly as possible.
It Was a Potential Health Hazard
Floods have the potential of contaminating drinking water when water levels get high enough to infiltrate wells. They can also cause sewage systems to overflow, which can lead to even more extensive health problems. But another danger comes from diseases being easily transmissible through water and sanitary hazards cropping up from standing water. Unfortunately, these situations take time and money to fix, but some things, like loss of memorable keepsakes, or worse, the loss of irreplaceable lives, can’t be fixed at all.
It Can Lead to Death
One of the more obvious and deadly issues that floods cause involves loss of life. Floods can swarm through streets and neighborhoods and cost the lives of people, pets, wild animals and even livestock. Drowning and disease spread by unclean water can also put all living beings' lives at risk as soon as a flood begins to flow. This is why warnings should be taken extremely seriously and people should always listen to local officials when these situations arise. But there are other serious medical effects that floods can cause that many people may not necessarily associate with flooding.
It Can Also Effect Mental Health
Because flooding can cause expensive structural damage and loss of life, survivors will often find themselves facing frustration, grief, anger and depression, which can all take a serious toll on anyone's mental health. Rebuilding your life after a disaster strikes can take years and tons of money, too. And that’s the last thing Wagner wanted to deal with as another flood became eminent in his hometown. And it soon became very obvious that this flood was set to be just as bad as any that had previously swept through the area.
A Flood Blanketed Brazoria County
A massive flood in Brazoria County, Texas left locals scrambling for survival as they tried to evacuate from the oncoming waves of water. This left several houses in local neighborhoods abandoned by their residents, many of which were likely to fall victim to the severe flooding. But Wagner was determined to save his home, and he used some unusual means to do so. But he wasn't the first person to try to use this method to stop the negative effects of flooding, and he trusted the other people who pioneered this method with his life.
Brazoria County Prepared for the Worst
Meanwhile, military vehicles and airboats were used throughout Brazoria County to begin evacuating locals as the Brazos River started to overflow from the rain. This kind of emergency situation only happens when flood waters are expected to reach, or have already reached, life threatening levels. Feet of water had already encroached on homes, businesses and neighborhoods, destroying everything that was left in its wake. Fortunately, the water hadn’t gotten to Wagner’s neighborhood yet, but it was only a matter of time.
He Was Worried
It might not have seemed like it, but Wagner was concerned for his family and property, as anyone would be in his situation. He knew that not many people can avoid the effects of flooding once it has started. That's why his decision to either evacuate completely or stay put to watch the disaster happen in real time was such a difficult decision to make. He knew that every moment that he didn't step into action, he was potentially putting the people he loved most at risk. “Your family being relocated and you know it’s heartbreaking to know that that could happen,” Wagner was quoted by WFAA.
The Water Level Was Unpredictable
The rising of the water level was almost as unpredictable as the Spring Texas weather in 2016. “To not know what that level was going to stop at, I needed to prepare for something that no one has seen,” Wagner added. So, he took some unconventional measures to ensure his safety for the oncoming storm. And although no one in his neighborhood had ever seen the tools he used to keep his family safe, there are people all over the world who have utilized the very same method to keep flood waters at bay and keep their land bone dry during a flood.
He Refused to Leave His Home
He had no intention of forsaking his castle, but he wasn’t exactly Moses. He couldn’t just slam a staff on the ground and cause the water to part. But he recently researched a method of keeping areas safe from floods that looked so promising that he had to give it a go, even though it would take a lot of man power to set up and keep working while the flood was raging. So, what did he do to prevent the water from getting in his house while others abandoned their homes? And if this method was so unusual, how was he even sure if it was legal in his area?
Thousands Abandoned Their Homes
Thousands of homes were evacuated before the flooding damaged their properties. But Wagner’s home on West FM 1462 in Rosharon, Texas was not one of them. And there was a very good reason for this. He took matters into his own hands and used a system that few people had ever even heard of to keep his land from looking like the middle of a lake by the end of the rainy season. And it surprised his neighbors and friends, but the method he used to save his home was one that he found and researched online and had never actually seen in person.
Sand Bags Were Not an Option
Most people use sandbags to prevent their properties from flooding, but if the meteorologists and officials were correct, then this was going to be a whopper of a flood. Sandbags can be helpful when there is less than a foot of rain expected to fall on any given day, and even in such situations, this method is only temporarily effective. There was no way that a bunch of sandbags would work, unless he had hundreds of thousands of them. He needed a better option and he found one in an unexpected place. But he knew the idea was genius from the second he saw it.
He Did Some Research
When he heard about the warnings and the mandatory evacuations on the news, Wagner turned to the place most people turn to when they need answers— the internet. He sifted through website after website looking for ways to save his home from the flood that was forecasted to come in the coming days, and this eventually paid off. So he soon purchased a tool, sight unseen, that promised to save his land using the one thing that was threatening the area to begin with: water. But would he come to regret his purchase?
He Purchased an AquaDam
Wagner had discovered a plastic product online known as an AquaDam, and it seemed too good to be true. And yet, it claimed that it had the power to hold the water at bay. The AquaDam is a temporary barrier filled with water that can divert and and control flood water. And from the looks of it, it really could. The huge dam worked like a fence to literally keep the water off of his property, as long as it didn't rise above the dam. Was this possible or was he putting too much faith in an online gimmick that he had never actually seen in person before?
His Home Would Become an Island
If this incredible AquaDam worked, Wagner would basically turn his property into a temporary island when the water rose. By first filling the AquaDam with water, it would inflate, rising above the flood and keeping his house and even his yard dry. But he had never used anything like this product and no one in his neighborhood had either. It was actually a pretty new invention too and there were only a handful of stories he could find that properly described the product. Would it even work or would he attract more water to his land using this device?
He Was Willing to Take a Chance
He didn’t consider himself a gambling man but he was willing to bet that the AquaDam would do its job. There was just one problem, and it was almost as big as the water that was about to flood his entire town. The AquaDam wasn't a small object, in fact it was absolutely massive. And setting it up would prove to be difficult. After all, he wasn't even sure that his neighbors would want to help him set up something that could potentially save Wagner's house but no one else's in the nearby area. Would Wagner's selfishness cause his neighbors to turn against him?
He Was Running Out of Time
The clock was ticking and the water would be at his doorstep in no time. He couldn’t order the AquaDam online and wait for it to arrive in the mail, let alone worry about how long the device would take to properly set up, even if he had everyone in the neighborhood lend a helping hand. He needed a quicker solution to respond to the flood because it had already begun to rain and it didn't look like it would stop anytime soon. So, he took matters into his own hands and put all of his eggs into one basket by purchasing the very thing he thought could save his home for good.
It Was the Most Important Purchase of His Life
He had made thousands of purchases over the years, but the AquaDam was the most important purchase of his life. And it stood to reason that if he managed to acquire this life saving solution, it would help him to avoid losing money on property damage. He just needed to find a way to actually get it to his home before the water level rose too high. And floods are extremely unpredictable, so he wasn't sure how much time he actually had before the rainfall would become too dangerous for Wagner to actually leave his home at all, with or without his new tool.
He Had to Go On a Mini Road Trip
After doing a little brainstorming, he came up with a brilliant idea. Unfortunately, this idea required him to go on a little road trip to the neighboring state of Louisiana. The only problem was, it was approximately 8 and a half hours away. Would he get back in time to save his home and family or would he return to a soaked and empty home, unsure if his family had made it to safety without him or not? Wagner was confident that he had enough time, and it was this unwavering confidence that kept him going when everyone else told him he was crazy.
A Lot Could Have Go Wrong
Driving to Louisiana seemed like the most local course of action, but a lot could have gone wrong on the long journey. Wagner could have ended up driving back to Texas and finding out that the roads were closed on his way back because of too much flooding, thus stranding him away from his family and his home until the floodwaters subsided. There was, of course, another scenario, where he might make it back to but get himself caught in the flood anyway, completely unable to save his home. Either way, Wagner still felt like he had to take the opportunity to save his home, even if it ended in disaster.
There Are Risks to Driving in a Flood
Driving through water can stall a car engine and cause permanent damage, and that’s not all. A flood makes it impossible to see the road, which in some cases, collapses as a result of the water. And then there’s a third scenario where a car can get swept off the road completely if a flood’s moving water is 12 inches or higher. All in all, Wagner had a lot to consider before he ultimately decided to make the long drive to pick up the AquaDam, but he knew that he wanted to make every effort possible to protect his family, so he set out on the long drive.
He Drove to Louisiana
Although he knew the risks, Wagner drove from Texas all the way to Louisiana to buy the AquaDam. Then he floored it all the way back to Texas in the hopes that he could make it home before the massive rainfall blanketed his property with water. Luckily, he wasn't caught in the storm on his drive back, but he knew that with every second he was still on the road, he was losing precious time that could be spent setting up the AquaDam. Wagner had no experience setting up such a device, so he wasn't even sure if this solution would ultimately work.
He Rushed Home With the AquaDam
Officials warned drivers in areas with flood warnings to drive slowly and steadily through the water whenever possible and there were a few close calls for Wagner, who started traversing his way to get his AquaDam after the rainfall had already stated. Thankfully, the water hadn't gotten to his house yet and he was in constant contact with his family, who would alert him the moment they were in any danger. But he still had to drive another 8 and a half hours before he was back home. Could he make it back in time to set up the AquaDam?
He Had Help Setting the Dam Up
Wagner finally made it back home before the floodwaters rose, but time was of the essence. So, he and two other guys helped get the AquaDam set up before it was too late. But it wasn’t as easy as 1-2-3 even with the extra manpower, there was a lot of work that went into making the AquaDam so powerful, and it took quite a while to set up. The device itself was huge and needed to be filled completely with water in order for it to repel the oncoming waves of water. Just before they finished setting up, Wagner wondered if they would even have time to finish the job.
It Took Hours to Fill Up
To get the AquaDam to work, it uses the same substance that makes floods dangerous: water. Gallons upon gallons of water fill a tube structure inside of the dam and luckily, there was plenty of water to go around because of the rainfall in the area. The dam is made of a thick plastic material, so no leaks can form. It took hours to fill the Water Dam up and then set it up in the correct position around the front and back yards of the house. In the end, Wagner had a literal border around his property and he wasn’t even out of breath for a very good reason.
The Common Misconception About the AquaDam
When people look at commercials or Google Image Search the AquaDam, it looks like a giant flotation device similar to those floating donuts people use at the pool. So naturally, people assumed that Wagner had used his lung power or an air pump machine to fill up the AquaDam. But he didn’t. And there's a good reason why the dam doesn't utilize air. If it was filled with air, the dense floodwaters would simply lift up the structure and it would float along the surface of the flood. This wouldn't be too helpful because the water would then reach Wagner's home and destroy his belongings.
The AquaDam Kept Water Out
The AquaDam that Wagner purchased was not filled with air but rather with water. The 400 feet of 30-inch-high tubes actually contain water to keep the water at bay and in the end, it worked. Wagner’s property remained relatively dry, not counting the rainfall that accompanied the storm. And he was so confident in his new dam that he even invited some friends to stay with him and wait out the storm. But how much did the dam set him back and is it a feasible method of keeping larger areas like cities safe from flooding?
The AquaDam Was Expensive
It’s impossible to put a price on something that can save a person’s home, at least, that’s how Wagner felt. “$8,300 is to me a small investment on a house that could have two feet of water in it and cost me $150,000 in repairs,” he told KHOU 11 News. And it's true that the AquaDam isn't a cheap purchase, but anyone who has been through an extreme weather emergency like a flood or hurricane knows that even with insurance, repairs can add up and some things can never be replaced. Some of his neighbors never thought it would work and now they are considering purchasing one as well for future storms.
Everyone Thought He Was Crazy
“I was the crazy guy. Everybody was kinda going by, laughing at me. But today they are really impressed with this AquaDam,” Wagner continued to explain to KHOU 11 News. And it's clear to see why they were impressed. Although there is some water that seeped in through the ground and made Wager's lawn a bit muddy, his home withstood no extreme water damage while his neighbors were knee deep in dangerous flood water. In the end, he was the one laughing at everyone, not the other way around, because it worked.
He Stayed Behind
With the AquaDam in place, Wagner and his family decided to stay at home and brave the flood. Together, they watched as the water continued to rise 27 inches high, and for a moment they worried. Had he made a bad investment? Would this device really help his home at all? The adrenaline of being in a life threatening situation makes time move slowly, so Wagner's family remembers watching the flood waters rise and rise, creeping up slowly towards the top of the dam, but never once did the flood break through the barrier or cause any damage to their home.
The AquaDam Worked
As the water level continued to elevate, most people in Wagner’s situation would have panicked. It’s not like they would have had a lot options if their artificial flood bank failed. In fact, if it had sprung a leak they would have been in an even worse situation than if they had done nothing at all. The waters from a broken dam would have also caused disasters for their nearby neighbors, who would certainly have a new enemy after such an ordeal. But fortunately, the water never rose above the AquaDam and Wagner was the envy of his neighborhood.
He Still Has His Home
Unlike some of his neighbors, Wagner still had a home that is free from extreme water damage and he hopes that others have learned from their mistake and will follow his example before the next flood hits. He was the first person in the small Texas town to utilize such a device, but after his success, he definitely won't be the last. But he wasn’t the only one who was giving the AquaDam high praise. It is known worldwide as a great alternative to sand bags and it is even more eco-friendly than other alternatives.
The AquaDam Was Eco-Friendly
According to the AquaDam website, “The AquaDam was designed to conform to all the requirements of the Clean Water Act. By eliminating the use of dirt/earth fill material, the potential for earth fill discharges into the waterway is dramatically reduced, if not eliminated.” By harnessing the very element that makes floods dangerous, there is only a small impact on the surrounding nature and wildlife in any flood prone area. And the best thing about the AquaDam is that it is reusable, so it's high cost really is worth the price.
It’s About Water Fighting Water
“It stops the water from inundating the homes and businesses,” Larry Campisi, president of Gulf Coast AquaDams based in Abbeville, Louisiana, told Realtor.com. “It basically is water fighting water.” But Wagner wasn’t bragging about his victory to everyone that he knew. He was happy that his family was safe and he knew that not everyone would be able to afford or set up a dam like his, but he hoped that at least he could inspire other people to think of unique solutions for tough situations and to take flood warnings very seriously.
He Was Grateful
Some people in Wagner’s position might have laughed at his neighbors and shouted, “Told you so.” But he just wasn’t that kind of guy. He felt nothing but sympathy for those who weren’t as lucky as him and he was simply grateful that the AquaDam prevented the water from damaging his home. He was also the talk of the town because of his unique idea and calm demeanor while executing it. The sharing of his story might even save other homes from natural disasters in the future, so Wagner was happy to share a nearly priceless piece of information with the world.