In Conway, a military technology finds a different role


In one lane, traffic slows to a crawl.

In the other, soldiers buzz with activity.

This is the scene on U.S. 501 Bypass in Conway, as the National Guard and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers scramble to prevent the most traveled road between Myrtle Beach and the rest of the world from flooding.

Engineers from Louisville, KY were eager to show off the Corps' new sand bagging machine, cutting down the time needed to fill thousands of white bags with sand.

"We can fill a bag about every two seconds," Emergency Operations Manager George Minges demonstrated.

Bigger bags lined the center of the street, waiting for bobcats to dump sand into them. Military members commonly refer to the bags as "Hescos", after first company to make them.

Because they're filled with sand, Hescos are able to withstand most impacts, making them popular for protecting soldiers from bullets and rockets on the front lines.

In Conway, they'll be tested against floods.

"I'm really excited, because now I see this other purpose for this thing that was saving lives of soldiers in combat, and now it's potentially going to save lives and property here in America, so I'm pretty proud of this," Brigadier General Diana Holland, who is responsible for the South Atlantic division, said.

With the Waccamaw expected to crest over the weekend, Holland and the other engineers will have a few days to see if the barrier will be useful, or if the waters stay off the road.

The good news? No matter what, Hescos are reusable.

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