Sandbagging & Mitigations

Lincoln County Sandbag Criteria & Guidelines Policy for Private Citizen


The primary purpose of this policy is to ensure that sandbags are available to Lincoln County to adequately respond to flooding emergencies or disasters in order to protect essential public property within the Lincoln County and its municipalities.  The secondary purpose is to assist the residents of Lincoln County and its municipalities by making sandbags available to protect private property, when availability of the sand and sandbag materials supplies allows.


County sandbags are to be distributed by the Lincoln County Road Districts under the following guidelines:

  • One (1) Bundle (100 bags) – no questions asked
  • Additional bags/bundles will require a site visit from the Emergency Management Office.  Contact Victor White or Lisa Oedewaldt at 406-293-6295

APPROVED USAGES for County Sandbags:

  • Protection of private residences from flooding.
  • Protection of commercial shops and small businesses from flooding

DISAPPROVED USAGES for County sandbags

  • Tract development
  • Large quantities for landscaping, field, or embankment protection.  This is usually not effective, and a waste of sandbags
The sole responsibility for protection of private property in the event of a flood lies with the individual property owners and not the County or its municipalities.   

Using sandbags is a simple but effective method of preventing or reducing damage from flood or debris. However, sandbags alone should not be relied on to keep water outside the building. Sandbags should never be used to build a fortress around the perimeter of one’s property.   Doing so can actually trap floodwaters between sandbag walls and structures, leading to further damage. 

Do not let conditions on your property create a problem for your neighbor.  Work with neighbors to prevent problems.   It is unlawful to divert flows from their natural path to the detriment of your neighbor.

Road District #1 (Libby)

674 County Shop Road

Libby, MT. 59923

(406) 293-4557

7am-5:30pm M-TH

Sandbags & Sand @ Location

Road District #2 (Troy)

1210 East Missoula Ave.

Troy, MT. 59935

(406) 295-4420

7am-5:30pm M-TH

Sandbags & Sand @ Location

Road District #3 (Eureka)

145 Iowa flats Rd.

Eureka, MT. 59923

(406) 889-3802

7am-5:30pm M-TH

Sandbags & Sand @ Location


The use of sandbags is a simple, but effective way to prevent or reduce flood water damage.  Properly filled and placed sandbags can act as a barrier to divert moving water around, instead of through, buildings.  Sandbag construction does not guarantee a water-tight seal, but is satisfactory for use in most situations.  Sandbags are also used successfully to prevent overtopping of streams with levees, and for training current flows to specific areas.

Untied sandbags are recommended for most situations.  Tied sandbags should be used only for special situations when pre-filling and stockpiling may be required, or for specific purposes such as filling holes, holding objects in position, or to form barriers backed by supportive planks.  Tied sandbags are generally easier to handle and stockpile.  However, sandbag filling operations can generally be best accomplished at or near the placement site, and tying of the bags would be a waste of valuable time and effort.  If the bags are to be pre-filled at a distant location, due consideration must be given to transportation vehicles and placement site access.

The most commonly used bags are untreated burlap sacks available at feed or hardware stores.  Empty bags can be stockpiled for emergency use, and will be serviceable for several years, if properly stored.  Filled bags of earth material will deteriorate quickly.

Commercial plastic sandbags, made from polypropylene, are also available from most bag suppliers.  These will store for a long time with minimum care, but are not biodegradable.  Thus, they have to be disposed of, or will remain around for a long time.  Do not use garbage bags, as they are too slick to stack.  Do not use feed sacks, as they are too large to handle.  Use bags about 14-18" wide, and 30-36" deep.

A heavy bodied or sandy soil is most desirable for filling sandbags, but any usable material at or near the site has definite advantages.  Coarse sand could leak out through the weave in the bag.  To prevent this, double bag the material.  Gravelly or rocky soils are generally poor choices because of their permeability.

Sandbag barriers can easily be constructed by two people, as most individuals have the physical capability to carry or drag a sandbag weighing approximately 30 pounds. 

Filling Sand Bags:

Filling sandbags is a two-person operation.  Both people should be wearing gloves to protect their hands.  One member of the team should place the empty bag between or slightly in front of widespread feet with arms extended.  The throat of the bag is folded to form a collar, and held with the hands in a position that will enable the other team member to empty a rounded shovel full of material into the open end.  The person holding the sack should be standing with knees slightly flexed, and head and face as far away from the shovel as possible.

The shoveler should carefully release the rounded shovel full of soil into the throat of the bag.  Haste in this operation can result in undue spillage and added work.  The use of safety goggles and gloves is desirable, and sometimes necessary.

Bags should be filled between one-third (1/3) to one-half (1/2) of their capacity.  This keeps the bag from getting too heavy, and permits the bags to be stacked with a good seal.

For large scale operations, filling sandbags can be expedited by using bag-holding racks, metal funnels, and power loading equipment.  However, the special equipment required is not always available during an emergency.

Sandbag placement

Remove any debris from the area where the bags are to be placed.

Fold the open end of the unfilled portion of the bag to form a triangle.  If tied bags are used, flatten or flare the tied end.

Place the partially filled bags lengthwise and parallel to the direction of flow, with the open end facing against the water flow.  Tuck the flaps under, keeping the unfilled portion under the weight of the sack.

Place succeeding bags on top, offsetting by one-half (1/2) filled length of the previous bag, and stamp into place to eliminate voids, and form a tight seal.

Stagger the joint connections when multiple layers are necessary.  


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