WOODBURY, Minn. (WCCO) — It’s the size of a lawnmower and requires no gas, just a little elbow grease and plenty of bags and plenty of sand.
It’s Craig Ferguson’s solution to back breaking sandbag filling. He calls his device the “Sand Shark.”
“It has this mammoth-sized scoop on the front. It’s fast and it’s efficient at what it does,” explained Ferguson.
It’s a project he’s been working on for close to a year after watching people in the Red River Valley filling thousands of sandbags. That’s when he began thinking of a solution to the problem.
“It just seemed like so much hard work for them,” said Ferguson.
Ferguson started tinkering in his garage with different ideas. He saw the “Sandbag Spider” that crews are using in Fargo and said the machine seems over-the-top, expensive, and immobile. He describes his Sand Shark as 100-percent people powered and easy to use.
“I think you could bag like 40 bags an hour by yourself,” said Ferguson.
His wife, Mary Kay, said Craig is very proud of his invention.
“I can see this helping the public in a lot of places,” said Mark Kay. “With all the snow that we got, I’m worried about flooding here. I said, ‘Craig, maybe we need to use the Sand Shark here.’”
Ferguson, who lives in Woodbury, isn’t an engineer or a mechanical genius. He’s a commercial painter who has been out of work since November. His problem-solving inventions are hobbies.
Mary Kay says the Sand Shark is one of her husband’s best ideas, but not his first. In the past, he’s constructed a device to get the most out of a bucket of paint and another that will take a large pile of raked leaves and place them in a plastic bag with ease. Mary Kay says the raking tool is something she uses all the time in the fall. Ferguson wouldn’t go into detail on how those devices worked; they’re top secret.
Ferguson said he’s in the process of getting the Sand Shark patented and has been trying to get in touch with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who is on the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee and has recently toured sandbagging operations in the Fargo-Moorehead areas.
She and other senators recently met with the Red River Retention Authority and Natural Resource Conservation Services to discuss plans to improve long-term water retention throughout the basin.
“I left a message and told them that I have a pretty important device that would speed up the bagging process. But I haven’t gotten any response,” said Ferguson.