With each scoop of the shovel, Brodie Claeys learns how to fight a flood.
“The bags are so heavy when you get all those big piles of dirt into them,” he said.
It’s hard work. Brodie, 8, joins his mom, Misty Claeys, to protect Keithsburg.
“I am very proud of him,” Misty said. “This is his first flood.”
Unfortunately, Keithsburg, Illinois, knows all too well about flooding.
The Mississippi River is expected to crest on Saturday nearly eight feet above flood stage. That’s still well below the record crest of 24.49 feet in 2008.
Even so, families are preparing for the possibility of evacuating.
It’s a familiar race against the clock on Wednesday. Flooding is getting worse by the hour. Keithsburg could use more volunteer support on Thursday.
“I’m trying to help out as much as I can,” said Kemper Carle, 9.
Bag-by-bag there’s a powerful message. It’s about families helping families. As they stack each bag, it’s protecting their town.
“There’s a lot of good. hard-working and caring people in this town,” said Jan Occhi, a Keithsburg council member helping to coordinate the response.
The Claeys family understands how hard it is to fight a flood. After Keithsburg was inundated in 1993 and 2008, it’s bracing for more high water.
More than two decades after Keithsburg lost more than 100 homes and businesses, vacant buildings still represent 1993’s wrath. They remain frozen in time. Relics for the remaining 600 residents who moved to higher ground.
Misty Claeys remembers all that. She was a high school senior back then.
“We’ve been through a lot of these,” she recalled. “We pull together and really help out.”
These days, the shovel is shifting to the next generation of flood fighters.
“They’re still trying to get the hang of it,” Misty concluded. “But they’re doing really great.”
Great effort for a family digging in once again in Keithsburg.