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How Allups’ common sense led to a uniquely helpful way to reduce flooding

Stephen Jacobs, Director of Allups Ltd.

Background

News reports and heart-breaking images of families hastily stacking bags of sand in front of their doors to then suffer devastating damage to their properties struck home during the summer 2007 floods. The Pitt review’s executive summary later informed government they could find no evidence sandbags were effective for household use.

In 2008/9 many companies failed. Looking for something worthwhile to do after some decades in traditional roles a Yorkshireman and Londoner decided to work together to see if and how they could make a difference.

Allups Ltd

Formed to facilitate collaboration work started to create a low cost, lightweight and more effective alternative to sandbags that everyone could quickly deploy without risking physical exertion and injury.

Outside doors are stronger than ever before; made with water proof plastics, composite materials, hard woods and multi-lever locks. We wondered if we really need to build a wall in front of them and how we could use less material to reduce the carbon foot print, overall waste and cost of a more effective DIY solution everyone can afford, easily store and use.

It seemed like a good idea… even though the product’s performance would rely on the state of the door and its frame and the way a product was installed. Unfortunately, this means our product could never be tested to a British or International Standard since they rely on constants so different test facilities can each recreate the same conditions and deliver the same results.

The invention and creation of Flood Traps

Design work, like scientific research, is about asking the right questions and testing potential answers until you find one that works well.

Our well-defined questions took us in a different direction to that which most flood product innovators, companies and authorities followed.

Focused on a quick DIY product to improve a door / window seal everyone could use without spending a lot of money lead to the development and application of a product that included a water inflatable cloth that would not disintegrate but instead would swell evenly into a soft water proof polymer once wet. New and innovative, a patent was secured.

Here are some images that illustrate how Floodlock Flood Traps work

Collaboration with Boston Borough Council

Looking for an alternative to the sandbags Boston Borough Council had recently decided to stop supplying they asked us a question.

Using similar technology to nappies will Allups’ strips work against sea water / tidal flooding, or will the polymer leak and fail?

In reply we decided to make Flood Traps 7cm wide.

External doors are about 4.5cm thick, so half a Flood Trap would be wet with tap water, swell into a water-proof polymer and be unaffected by the salty water. The remaining 2mm thick dry part would be trapped as usual between the door and its frame.

Having solved the problem Boston Borough Council held a Flood Event where they asked potential flood victims to sign up to the Environment Agency’s flood alert and make a flood plan in return for a free pack of Floodlock Door Protection Strips, the original name for Flood Traps.

Success Case Studies

How do you define and measure success against the alternative of no or significantly more expensive protection and flood damage which could cost a few thousands of pounds for a couple of inches, tens of thousands for deeper floods or nothing if no floods happen?

Here is an elderly lady’s story provided in reply to a letter we sent with a free product in return for her permission to publish. 28 Oct 2017

Good morning Mr Jacobs,

What a nice way to start a letter. First let me thank you for your very kind gift of the Flood Traps, gratefully received as a pensioner. Secondly for taking the time to write back.

Now for my need of your Flood Traps. I live in a bungalow, one of four, mine being at one end. I have to let my neighbour have right of way. My porch has two doors, 1 leading to her back entrance, about 18 months or more she laid down paving slabs as a path, from my door to her garden. This wasn’t done properly as any rain now runs down into my porch. Hence, here is where your product comes to my rescue. As my porch was awash with water, looks more like a pond. I will be telling other people on this estate just in case they have the same problem as myself.

Thanking you once again for my gift, I’ll get them down before the week end as much rain is forecast, also for your interesting letter.