Mississippi River town calls for sandbagging volunteers

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CLARKSVILLE, MO (KPLR) - High waters on the Mississippi River are threatening the town of Clarksville and they are asking for more sandbagging volunteers. The river is expected to crest about 10' over flood stage on Wednesday.  A sign on First Street reads, "Touch the Mississippi."  You can almost do that from the spot.   River water is already finding its way across First Street toward the historic shops in the artist community.

AmeriCorps volunteer Dalton Olson spent the Fourth of July stacking sandbags. He said, "At this point in time we've been told the river's going to crest at 35 feet 4 inches and that will bring it up into here."  He added, "We're pretty low on volunteers right now."

John Ferrell helped fill sandbags across the street.  He said, "It takes a lot to get ahead then you don't know when the river's going to stop."

Ferrell drove just under an hour to get here.  This is where he grew up.  Ferrell explained, "My sister still lives in Clarksville.  Her house is one of the first houses to flood."

A City Councilman told FOX 2 that it will take volunteers to save the town this year.  The town is still paying the bill for last year's flood relief, thus the handwritten sign "please help us sandbag."

Ferrell said they'll need more than the help they've seen so far.

"It's been pretty slow, kind of slow to get going. And the economy and on the 4th of July and things like that we're just needing all the help we can get up here."

The Ruesche family, from Lake St. Louis, heard the call.  John and his wife even convinced their daughter and her boyfriend to help.  John Ruesche said, "Instead of going downtown and eating funnel cake we thought we'd do some good work up here for the community, eat at Tubby's Pub and Grub, then go watch some fireworks tonight."

According to flood reports, the entire sandbag filling work area will be under water in two days.

Ruesche joked, "I'd say you need to grab a shovel and start shoveling."

Clarksville can use help in all forms, from the machines to move the sandbags to the sand itself.

A quick glance of the Mississippi River might lead you to believe the water is calm, but when you watch the water's edge you can see it creeping closer.

The State of Missouri will be sending 50 Missouri Department of Corrections offenders to help Saturday. The local Methodist Church is feeding anyone who comes to volunteer.

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