National Guard Prepares Wooldridge for Flooding

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WOOLDRIDGE - About 25 Missouri National Guard members began building a sandbag barrier Friday morning to prevent the small river town of Wooldridge from flooding. The Guard members  filled about 2,000 bags of sand in the extreme heat to reinforce an existing sandbag barrier that had gone virtually untouched since 2007, officials said. 

Cooper County Emergency Management Agency Director Tom White said the town would most likely flood if the Missouri River water level rose above 30 feet in the area. That would cause water to overflow into the Petite Saline Creek, which would then cause part of the town to flood. The Missouri River water level in the area is currently at about 28 feet.

Wooldridge City Council Vice Chairman Jeff Vollrath said that of the approximately 47 residents, not many would be affected by the flooding. However, he did say that a fear of flooding has been present throughout out the town since the flood of 1993. During that flood, water levels in the downtown area reached about three feet high. 

White said the Cooper County EMA has instructed Wooldridge residents to prepare for the flooding, but know of only one family who has left town.

"We've done about all we can do at this point," Vollrath said. "We fixed the floodgate so the water can't seep back down into the town and now the National Guard is here to help out. This is really the last thing we could do, honestly."

Despite all the warnings and precautionary measure taken, the town remains optimistic the Petite Saline Creek will not overflow and cause flooding in the town, Vollrath said.

Vollrath was the first resident who showed up to help the National Guard with the sandbag process. The Guard says that as it travels across the state to help prevent potential flooding, it has seen a very positive response from the affected communities.

"Everybody's pretty willing to help," second lieutenant Tyler Perkins said. "They're all really nice people — good to meet. As I talk to them, they always say 'I'll do anything I can to help you, just let me know.'"

Cooper County officials said Sunday's expected rainfall could determine whether or not the town will flood. White said if upcoming predicted rainfall is significant, flooding could occur within about five days.

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