Volunteers took a long awaited break from sandbagging in Rocheport on Sunday. Dozens of residents volunteered their time to help prevent further damage from the high waters over the last several days.

City Alderman Conrad Yates estimated that volunteers have made nearly 100,000 sandbags since they began working about two weeks ago. He said the sandbags form a protective wall between the Katy Trail and the Missouri River that stretches hundreds of feet. In some places, the wall is as high as 5 feet.

Yates said the city hasn't seen flood levels like this since 1993 and, back then, it took months for the flooding to go down.

This time the city is more concerned about levees that are breaking upstream and causing water levels to rise near Rocheport. Volunteers have been working proactively against that threat. 

Yates stressed that just because the river is up, it doesn't mean that Rocheport is underwater. On Sunday, water levels dropped and Yates said he felt comfortable taking a day off from sandbagging. 

"We put life on hold. Routine, mundane life has stopped," Yates said. "We don't expect it to be immediately over but we try to take care of our volunteers and we're very happy with things."

Yates said the break won't last for long and he plans to resume sandbagging on Monday.

Not only are residents of Rocheport affected by the flooding, but small business owners also feel the impact of a rising river. Brandon Vair is the owner of the Meriwether Cafe and Bike Shop, where visitors can rent bikes to ride on the Katy.

Boone County Emergency Management closed a large part of the trail on May 23. Vair said he has already noticed a decline in sales. 

"The impact economically is certainly going to be devastating for our business, it's hard to ride bikes on a trail that doesn't exist," Vair said. "This is our busy season. We've seen 20 to 25% less in sales."

Vair said business will continue as usual and he hopes that will encourage people to keep coming. 

"You can't really prepare for it," Vair said. "You can only react to it."

Supervising editor is Marcelle Peters

  • General assignment reporter, summer 2019 Studying magazine editing Reach me at kmeg3c@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

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