KIMMSWICK, MO - On the flood watch, the flood fight is in high gear in Kimmswick as that Jefferson County community prepares for a historic Mississippi River crest later this week.
And the town is now getting extra help from inmates.
The inmates from the state prison in Bonne Terre are filling sandbags that then wind up on the levee.
That levee is holding back the still rising Mississippi from the town and keeping it dry.
The inmates have been in Kimmswick since last Friday with the exception of Sunday.
The sandbagging operation to reinforce the levee is basically running from early in the morning until late at night.
Kimmswick Mayor Phil Stang calls the inmates contributions critical.
“We would be swimming if they weren`t here. We just do not have the manpower,” said Stang.
The levee here is holding back a massive amount of floodwater from the Mississippi.
Officials from the Army Corps of Engineers are walking it twice a day making sure is stable.
The Blue Owl Restaurant and Bakery is among the businesses being protected by the levee.
Owner Mary Hostetter is helping to provide food and drinks to the inmates.
She is grateful for their efforts, saying their work is helping to keep the local businesses open.
“I feel like we`re safe just as long as the water doesn`t come up fast and high,” said Hostetter.
Betteanne Smith owns Mississippi Mud Gallery and Gifts right next door to the Blue Owl.
Her business is down because of the flood threat but she is hoping the levee will keep her shop from getting muddy, “We`re hoping for the best. We`re looking for that crest to come and then go. But sure it`s nerve-racking anytime you`re in a situation like this and it`s a wait and see situation,” said Smith.
The National Weather Service has actually lowered the crest in the Kimmswick area from 46 feet to 45.3 feet.
That is set to happen early on Friday.
Even with that lowering, the projected crest will still be the second highest ever only to ‘93.
Mayor Stang says the levee should hold to 49 feet.
We`re told the reinforcing operation will continue until the crest happens.