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They were dreamed up and created by those trying to find a little humour in the wake of the devastation wrought by Superstorm SandySoon after neighborhoods in New York and New Jersey became submerged under water, mocked-up images of sharks swimming through the floods were doing the rounds on the internet.
The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. Johan Rohyo, a 24-year-old student from Sweden, has been living in New York City for the last month and a half participating in an internship with the European Chamber of Commerce in Times Square.
Hurricane Sandy drastically impacted the daily lives of thousands of individuals living on the East Coast. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has teamed up with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, ILC Dover and West Virginia University to create a device that could prevent future floods like the one that residents of New York City and Long Island are still recovering from. John Fortune, the manager of the project for the federal DHS’s Science and Technology Directorate, said in an interview, “The subway environment is very unique.


The most recent and final design for the plug consists of a more durable set of three layers.
DHS hopes in the next two to three years to install the first of the plugs, each device costing about $400,000. For people like Rohyo who experienced first-hand how the flooding from Hurricane Sandy can drastically change day-to-day life, a device like the tunnel plug cannot come soon enough.
For Rohyo, a typical day in the city involved waking up and taking the subway to and from work. When the powerhouse storm hit Long Island and New York City, many were prepared for power outages and strong winds that would most likely bring down trees and power lines. The device, which looks like an over-sized body pillow, began turning from idea to reality in 2007 when the DHS started looking for ways to protect the nation from natural hazards, whether they are man-made or terrorist plotted. DHS needed to prove that the concept of a balloon filling a tunnel space could work. Once the trial plug was deemed a success in 2008, the next challenge was to find a fabric that would be strong enough to meet the task of holding back a wall of water. The fabric, made from liquid crystal polymer and boasting to its name a strength that is five times stronger than steel and 10 times stronger than aluminum, as stated on the official Vectran Fiber website, was made into a single layer plug and took on the role as the first official model of the device.


The innermost layer consists of an airtight polyurethane bladder, followed by a layer of Vectran.
The devices will be installed on the walls of tunnels in containers that look similar to airbags. They wanted a cheaper and more effective device that could theoretically prevent flooding in tunnel systems. The outermost layer, the layer that would face the difficult task of holding back a wall of water and sustaining itself in the rough environment of the subway tunnel, is a layer of Vectran belts woven together to sustain the high pressure conditions. When needed, the devices would release from the container and inflate using a pump that would be installed with the plug.



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