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Volunteers fill more than 32,000 sandbags in St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - Boy Scouts, church groups and even employees from a landscaping company all joined in to help fill more than 32,000 sandbags in St. Louis City on Tuesday. This effort will help hundreds of property owners along a flooded drainage canal.

The extra muscle from all these volunteers is boosting flood preparations in south St. Louis City. The sandbags are needed to add height to an existing levee along what is normally a dry river bed near the city’s southern border.

"It was incredible. We started our sandbag operation at seven o’clock we had over 200 people here at 7 a.m. when most people are in bed," said Todd Waelterman, St. Louis Executive Operations Director.

Unusually heavy rains during Christmas week pushed the River Des Peres to flood stage.

“We went out and we surveyed the levee to look for heights because we hadn’t had anything like this recently. We identified about 1,200 total feet of levee. That is a little short of the forecast, anywhere from six inches to two and a half feet. So we’re coming out and we’re beefing it up," Waelterman said.

This is a modest sandbagging operation compared to the one in 1993. Expectations are the flood level could approach that of 22 years ago.