Mercer County High Schoolers help Keithsburg brace for incoming flood season

KEITHSBURG, Illinois -- Mercer County High Schoolers filled thousands of sandbags in Keithsburg, Illinois, where the Mississippi River is expected to hit major flood stage by this weekend.

Officials said the levee should be able to hold back the rising waters, but they're stockpiling the sandbags now ahead of what could be a record-breaking flood season this spring.

Memories of a devastating flood are in 1993 are still fresh in Keithsburg, where several old city blocks are now a flood plain.

"The land here that you see holding all this water now belongs to FEMA," said Chief of Keithsburg Fire Department Jeremy Malcom, pointing out an area extending from 16th Street all the way to the river. "It used to be homes that used to be here all throughout the years," he said.

In spite of high winds and dreary skies, most students said they were happy to help make sure the small town would be ready for the next big flood to come over the levee.

"I think we've got it down to a system now," said Mercer County junior Taylor Hessman. "Everywhere I turn I have what I need," she said as she held out a sandbag under a makeshift funnel, urging one of her classmates to fill it up.

Officials said the high schoolers filled up 10,000 sandbags Friday.

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