Coast Guard responds to Eureka, prepares for rescues

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EUREKA, MO (KPLR) – The U.S. Coast Guard was out in force in Eureka. The guardsmen brought three 17-foot aluminum boats and seven coasties as they prepared for rescues.

They spent much of the day ferrying necessary supplies and equipment through the flood waters.

“Logistically: providing fuel for the pumps, we’ve been providing pumps back and forth to the high water areas where it’s difficult to walk to, if not unstable to walk to,” Chief Warrant Officer Brandon Hansen said.

Sandbaggers were working hard in efforts to help business owners fight back the rising Meramec River. The volunteers come from all over, including area high school students. The flood may have forced the cancellation of classes, but it fired up young people to do something good in the community.

“I know the community needs any help it can get. Build-up the sand wall as much as they can; it’s a good thing,” said student Andrea Zeiser.

“Every hand matters, you know? You feel like you make a difference,” said high school junior Quentin Van Buren.

By the 2:30 p.m., the Eureka Fire Department said it had no more need for volunteers or sandbags. Approximately 200,000 sandbags had been filled and deployed.

“High school students come out to help these businesses it’s good to see, it’s a tragic event but it’s good to see that,” said Kathy Gillman, owner of Grand Central Hair Design.

Gillman has owned the salon for 16 years. Less than two years ago, floodwaters rose to an inch below her front door. She said this is her third flood and it gets worse each time.

“Back in 1982, my family lived in Times Beach and we were flooded then, and they lost their home, and I’ve battled this river since then. I feel like I’ve become a pro,” Gillman said.

The Coast Guard spokesman said he was amazed to see how the community came together to help others save their livelihoods.