KCUR News
5:50 pm
Tue June 7, 2011

Sandbag Ville

Parkville, MO – An automatic sandbag filling machine roared through a parking lot in downtown Parkville today. The river town is the only Kansas City suburb not protected by a flood wall. Hundreds of volunteers appeared to stack sandbags against a flood expected as early as next week. KCUR's Dan Verbeck was there.

Photos: Dan Verbeck/KCUR.

Over the din of the sand handler, men and women and teenagers hefted white sacks bearing a red Army Corps of Engineers logo. They stacked them three feet high across Main Street between railroad tracks and the Missouri River.

A city emergency services coordinator has heard the Corps give two estimates of high water.

The higher would breach the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe tracks and seep into downtown. The lower would flood English Landing Park next to the river and block access to a separate shopping district built on high ground.

Brian Alyea works in town and says, "There is a palpable nervousness around here. The folks that were here in '93, they respect it and they're doing everything they can to avert another tragedy like that." He spent much of his day moving antiques to the attic of the building where he works.

Doing what Alyea calls "Everything" includes bringing in a portable metal flood wall by truck from Sacramento, California. With sandbags, it will create a theoretical flood barrier between the town and the Missouri, already near bankfull.

Parkville suffered river water in 1993 that flooded out the Post Office and many downtown businesses. It also blocked passage along Missouri Highway 9 to the East toward Riverside.