Hurricane Harvey exploded as a Category 4 hurricane in Port Aransas, Texas on August 24, 2017. Harvey crossed the coast of Texas into Louisiana over the next several days, causing devastating flooding; The Houston area alone received 50 inches of rain.
As rising water approached Rachel Abraham’s condominium building, residents gathered what they did and stayed on the upper floors until the water receded. Thankfully no one in his community lost his life. However, Abraham’s car and all of his neighbors’ cars were washed away in the flood, making it extremely challenging to mobilize them for the rescue and recovery process. That crisis gave rise to an idea for Abraham that became the Climaguard, a temporary enclosure made of heavy-duty, waterproof material to protect cars and other goods in floods.
Abraham lost his 2008 Infiniti G35 to water damage and saw how much damage the flood had caused, including a collection of large-format artwork created by a friend of his, who is an artist and cancer patient. Painting was his friend’s only source of income, so it was a devastating loss. When Abraham and her neighbors waited weeks for insurance claims to be processed, she found herself thinking, “I have the time and the material sense, and I wanted to do something.”
The Houston resident claimed his car with his insurance, notifying him that there was a rental waiting list; She was on a waiting list for a month as she negotiated her payment.
“These incidents took a toll on my neighbors and I, especially since there was little we could do to prevent this same outcome,” Abraham told me over the phone. “That same year, Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck, and affected communities lost nearly a million cars. At that point, I decided that if I didn’t make a better choice for flood-affected communities, these total damages would continue to happen in the affected areas. .
Abraham has a chemical engineering degree at the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree in environmental engineering from the University of Houston, and he drew on his experience working to design, test, and build. It looks and feels deceptively simple: Basically, the enclosure is like a giant Ziploc bag for cars and other items. Here’s the genius part: He designed it for the zip line to sit above the point where the enclosures float, keeping contents secure and dry.
“Once it floats, it’s like a boat,” says Abraham. “You can shake it with one hand.”
The inventor laid down several essentials for his creation: First, it was important that the equipment could be easily handled by one person. Second, she knew that anchoring straps were important for keeping the car from drifting. The third factor was the quality of the material.
“Since a large amount of coverage was required, I didn’t want the material to be too heavy, but I also didn’t want to compromise on waterproof performance,” Abrahams says. “The other requirements were that I wanted the longest shelf life since [it] It will be placed in the trunk of a car or attic of a house and will be made of recyclable plastic.”
The military-grade material was derived from nine months of testing by a Swiss testing firm and working with various manufacturers. Abraham and his team came up with a testing protocol and went through the material until they found one with the best performance properties that is still affordable. They found that some materials peeled off when sitting in water, aged quickly in various simulated weather conditions, or were too heavy.