Sandbags

Sandbags can be used to reduce the impact of flooding on your home or business. Sandbags will not stop flood water entirely but can reduce the amount of water entering your premises.

Brisbane City Council provides pre-filled sandbags to residents and businesses in the Council area. Pre-filled sandbags are available for collection 24 hours a day, seven days a week from September to March and also when there is severe weather predicted (e.g. higher than normal high tides, heavy rainfall events).

Super sandbag weekends

Council is holding three super sandbag weekends on 17–18 September, 24–25 September and 1–2 October 2022 to help residents be prepared for severe weather ahead of a predicted early storm season. SES volunteers and/or Council officers will be onsite at each collection point to provide practical advice on how to store and use sandbags correctly, for the best chance at mitigating flood damage.

Super sandbag weekends will be held at the following locations from 9am-4pm over the three weekends:

  • Darra – 38 Shamrock Road, Darra
  • Morningside – 9 Redfern Street, Morningside
  • Newmarket – 66 Wilston Road (in the car park off Erneton Street), Newmarket
  • Zillmere – 33 Jennings Street, Zillmere.

Sandbag collection locations

Sandbags can be collected at the following locations:

  • Darra - South Depot, 38 Shamrock Road
  • Lota Depot, 58 Herbert Street, Lota
  • Morningside - Balmoral Depot, 9 Redfern Street
  • Newmarket - SES Depot, 66 Wilston Road
  • Zillmere-North Depot, 33 Jennings Street. 

Check your vehicle’s weight restrictions before loading it with sandbags. One sandbag weighs approximately 18–20 kilograms.

How to store sandbags before use

After collection, sandbags must be stored in a cool, covered area out of direct sunlight and protected from the elements. If sandbags are not stored properly, deterioration is likely to occur. Sandbags must be discarded if they show signs of deterioration.

When stored correctly, sandbags should last up to 12 months before use.

How to use sandbags

This video shows Brisbane residents how to use sandbags correctly during a severe weather event.

You can also view this video on Council's YouTube channel.

Video transcript

This is a video transcript of the Sandbags video hosted on Brisbane City Council's YouTube channel. This video is 4 minutes and 8 seconds long.

>>I'm Ash Pringle from Brisbane City SES. During storm season one of the ways we protect homes from flood and storm water is with these sandbags. When used properly sandbags can dramatically reduce and minimize flood and stormwater damage to homes.

But today I'm going to show you how you can use sandbags at your place if summer storms or floods threaten your home.

Here in Brisbane during the storm season, the Brisbane City Council makes available stockpiles of pre-filled sandbags available 24 7, free of charge from these council locations.

We can use sandbags in a few different situations. Sandbags probably do their best work when they used to divert stormwater away from entering your home, but sandbags can also be used when we are expecting flood waters to rise from a local creek, a storm surge, or an especially high tide but before we start it is important to understand a few things about sandbags.

First, they are not actually waterproof themselves. To keep water out they need to be used together with plastic sheeting or a tub of some kind.

Second, sandbags are very heavy especially when they are wet. If you're going to be placing more than a few you're probably going to need a few people helping you. Today I've got my team of SES volunteers working with me.

Now our aim is to stop flood and storm water entering through a doorway or entry to your home, so we need to look at the area we're going to place our sandbags first.

Ideally, we want that area to be as flat as possible if we place sandbags over garden edging or on uneven ground it is going to limit how well they work. You should also consider how you're going to get in and out of your house with the sandbags in place.

The next step is to secure our plastic in place. The first row of sandbags will hold that plastic down and stop it from moving. Sandbags should only ever be half filled because we need to be able to mould them into shape.

The easiest way is with your boot. It flattens out the sandbag and closes the gap between them. Notice too how on the first row the top of the bag is tucked under itself, one row of sandbags usually stands about half a foot or ten centimetres tall. This may be all you need but if not another layer can be added.

It's just like laying bricks by offsetting the bags like a brick wall we build a stronger barrier. If you need to build a longer wall you should build it in a crescent shape, arcing out towards the water. A wall this shape will be stronger than a straight wall, and if you need to build your sandbag wall higher, you need to build your walls so the base is three times as thick as the top.

Building a sandbag levee is long hot and hard work, so while my team is busy let's see where else in your house sandbags can help you when flooding is expected.

Sinks, showers and toilets all have drains that can backflow during flooding. Placing sandbags over them can be helpful to plug them up and keep the mess outside.

And this is the finished product. It took over 60 sandbags and a team of well-trained SES volunteers around 30 minutes to build, but at best sandbags are only a temporary solution. Even when laid properly they're only meant to last a few hours.

The sandbags will start to fall apart after about six weeks. Because of this, and because used sandbags often contain contaminants from flood and stormwater, they can't be reused or returned to the council depot.

Instead, you need to dispose of them at a Brisbane City Council transfer station, and this is best done before they start falling apart.

Working near flood or storm water can be dangerous and hygiene is really important. Storm water almost always carries contaminants and all sorts of nasty stuff. Cuts need to be treated with antiseptic and gloves and boots should be worn at all times, and don't underestimate the power of running water. Nothing is more important the safety of you and your family.

For more information on how to prepare for severe weather this summer visit Brisbane City Council's website or call council on zero seven three four zero three double eight double eight.

Sandbag disposal

Council encourages you to properly dispose of sandbags once severe weather has passed.

Used sandbags that have not come into contact with oil or other contaminants can be opened and sand scattered on lawns and gardens as topsoil, where it will not wash into stormwater drains.

Empty sandbags should be placed in the general waste bin. Do not empty or place full sandbags in your general waste bin. 

Sandbags that have come into contact with floodwaters can be disposed of at one of Council’s four resource recovery centres.

Sandbags that have come into contact with oil or other contaminants can be disposed of at our Willawong or Nudgee resource recovery centres. Please notify staff at the gate if you have contaminated sandbags so they can be disposed of safely.

More information

For more information, phone Council on 07 3403 8888.

Alternatively, you can find information about flooding and how to prepare for weather events:

Last updated: 15 September 2022

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