EUREKA, Mo. (KMOX) – So far, Governor Eric Greitens has declared a state of emergency and called up the National Guard to help fill and stack sandbags in flood-threatened communities across Missouri.
Monday evening the first-term governor took a more personal and physically demanding role in the anti-flood battle by rolling up his sleeves and grabbing a shovel, filling sandbags that were then stacked around homes and businesses in Eureka.
“When I was a Navy Seal one of the things that we recognized was that we had to be ready for every possible contigency,” he explained during a brief rest break. “We’re doing the same thing here.”
Greitens mentioned a couple of times that his military background was informing his response to the rising floodwaters, something that he seemed to suggest was lacking under the previous administration of Democrat Jay Nixon.
“We’re doing things differently,” he said. “We’re taking a very proactive approach to this, making sure that we’re pre-positioning swift-water rescue teams, getting ahead of these emergencies as much as possible.”
He added that his administration’s policy is “Go big and go early.”
Also among the hundreds of volunteers helping fill and stack sandbags was Eureka Mayor Kevin Coffey, who’s seen his fair share of flooding during his 14 years in office.
He was appreciative of the Governor’s presence, and all the help that his city has been getting as the Meramec River explodes out of its banks.
“People coming from all over the region – this is amazing,” he pointed out. “The spirit and caring of all the people here.”
He said they’re bracing for a current crest forecast of 45′-8,” which is mere inches away from the 46-foot level that caused an estimated $2 million in damage during the week between Christmas and New Year’s in 2015.
“We’re trying to go two feet over the predicted level with the sandbags, so that we have not only the level but the strength in the walls,” according to Coffey.
Coffrey adds they have had a bit more of an advance warning this time around.
As Governor Greitens wrapped up his work and prepared to travel to other flood-threatened communities, he paused to shake hands and take selfies with other volunteers.
“It is incredibly inspiring to see the resilience of the city of Eureka, the people of St. Louis County and all of Missouri as they’re coming out to fight this historic flood,” he said. “I spoke to (President Donald Trump) today and he said ‘Eric, I’ve seen what you and the people of Missouri are doing. Keep it up, you’re looking strong’.”