From beds to floods, inventor does the trick

Larry Burns shows the device he has designed to stop floodwater getting through doorways. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Larry Burns shows the device he has designed to stop floodwater getting through doorways. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Dunedin inventor Larry Burns has done it again, this time tackling the topical issue of flooding.

Mr Burns has designed a water stop gate, a simple spring-loaded device which fits into a doorway, with a rubber seal that seals the door and keeps water out.

It was now attracting interest from the likes of insurance companies, councils and Civil Defence, he said.

Last year, a ''mattress elevator'' he designed was highly commended in the health and science category at the New Zealand Innovation Awards.

It was a remote-controlled device with two inflatable pads which could be pumped up by a patient or medical professional.

He came up with that idea while working as a handyman for a woman with arthritis. She complained her hands were torn apart when she lifted her mattress to make her bed.

''I see stuff ... I see a problem, for some reason, and I can solve it. It's really weird,'' he said yesterday.

While driving around Mosgiel during a flood event, he saw sandbags being used to stop houses being flooded and he thought it was an ''expensive waste of time''.

So he saw Enterprise Dunedin business relationship manager Des Adamson and suggested he could come up with something that would help.

People tended to blame councils for the damage that occurred during floods but it was not the council's fault; the infrastructure was not designed to handle that amount of water, Mr Burns said.

He said the response to his design had been ''huge''. Once used, it could be folded down and stored until the next big rain event.

As far as production went, he was ready to go with manufacturing from Dunedin, rather than heading offshore.

Rather than it being about making money, Mr Burns said he simply enjoyed making products that helped people, with the upshot of ''seeing smiles on faces''.

Mr Adamson said the water stop gate was simple to use, could be used in different types of doors, and was something that landlords and councils could be interested in if it worked. It would be cost-effective if the final product ''passed with flying colours''.

It would not stop floodwater going under floors but a lot of flooding occurred through front and back doors, with some caused by vehicles travelling down streets causing a wash, and it could be a ''godsend'' for shopkeepers, he said.

Using it also made sense instead of having to cart sandbags and then take them to a landfill once the need had passed.

Comments

I beg to differ on one small point. Mr Burns is quoted as saying "but it was not the council's fault; the infrastructure was not designed to handle that amount of water".

That is precisely why it IS councils fault. Their ongoing failure to design, build and maintain infrastructure is a significant contributor to floods, particularly in South Dunedin.
While council concentrates on trivial issues such as bike paths, pokies and trips to see ex presidents, Dunedin residents live with the fact that any decent rain this year will flood their properties again.

So, its great that people can spend more of their own money to mitigate flood damage, but it is deplorable that DCC are fiddling at the edges and ignoring Dunedins real issues.

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