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Sandbag volunteers needed

Tuesday, May 8, 2007 | 2:56 p.m. CDT; updated 9:25 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Volunteers are needed to help erect sandbag barriers along the flooding Missouri River.

The sandbagging began Tuesday at 1 p.m. in the city of Rocheport along the Katy Trail, said Gale Blomenkamp, division chief and public information officer for the Boone County Fire Protection District. Within the next 12 to 24 hours the efforts will move south toward Huntsdale, McBaine and Hartsburg and continue on a 24-hour basis until the threat of flooding has lessened.

Anyone who would like to volunteer should report to Station 2 of the Boone County Fire Protection District Station, 104 Central St., in Rocheport. At that point volunteers will be given work assignments.

Further downriver, the river community of Hartsburg was planning for a sandbagging effort to begin on Wednesday morning. The Rev. Tom Nordberg of Columbia United Church of Christ said his network of churches has been asked to coordination the collection of food to feed volunteer sandbag workers. The church is asking for cases of individually packaged bottled water, Gatorade and iced tea, as well as chips and supplies for sandwiches. Those who live in the Ashland or Hartsburg area can deliver donations directly to the Southern Boone County Fire District station in Hartsburg, where the sandbagging effort will be coordinated. Those in Columbia or in northern sections of the county can drop off donations at the United Church of Christ, 3201 I-70 Drive N.W.

Blomenkamp said in an e-mail that volunteers should be “physically fit” and able to lift 50 pounds. Weather conditions could be “extreme” so volunteers should wear appropriate clothing, including work jeans, cotton shirts, jackets, work boots, leather gloves and a hat. Sunscreen is also advised.

Meanwhile, the joint information center said that portions of three roads in Boone County are closed because of high water. They include Smith Hatchery Road north of Cooper's Landing, Route N south of Cooper's Landing and Providence Landing at the dead end of Old Plank Road. Cooper's Landing, a riverside store and boat ramp is also closed.

More road closures were expected as the water continues to rise, the joint information center said. It advised motorists and pedestrians to avoid moving water.

Jim Kramper, warning coordinator for the National Weather Service in St Louis, said he is not expecting significant additional rainfall this coming weekend.

“The problems we are facing are from water that is already in the system and currently making its way to the Missouri River,” Kramper said.

The State Emergency Management Agency activated the State Emergency Operations Center at Level II status Monday, meaning the agency will be staffed for 24 hours a day until further notice.

Susie Stonner, SEMA’s public information officer, said the vast majority of flooding is in northwest Missouri, from St. Joseph south to Kansas City. The flooding is expected to move south and east into mid-Missouri over the next several days.

SEMA has established flood-response plans in coordination with mid-Missouri counties.

Stonner said many communities are encouraging residents to evacuate or at least begin moving their belongings to higher ground.

She said the Missouri National Guard was activated Monday, but because the Guard is made up of citizen volunteers, it takes about 72 hours to activate. She said some officers, however, would travel to endangered cities Tuesday to help with flood-relief efforts.

Residents of Hartsburg met Monday night with Boone County Sheriff Dwayne Carey and Presiding Commissioner Ken Pearson to plan their pre-flood response. Jeanette Crawford, a member of the Hartsburg town board, said many residents, including herself, have started evacuating their homes. She expects 15 to 20 houses and businesses to be affected by the flooding.

The sandbagging effort is being coordinated by Columbia/Boone County Office of Emergency Management, the county fire district, the Southern Boone County Fire District, Boone County government, the Boone County Public Works Department, the Boone County Sheriff’s Office, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Missouri Department of Transportation, the city of Columbia and local municipalities affected by the flooding river.

Flood updates are available at www.bcfdmo.com. For additional information call the Columbia/Boone County Office of Emergency Management at 573-874-7400.


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