FOREST CITY, MO (KCTV) – Volunteers of many ages in Forest City are waiting to see if their fight to keep floodwater away from their water treatment plant will work.

Truckload after truckload of sand was piled along Main Street before quickly being shoveled into thousands of sandbags.

They were filled one-by-one then placed near the water treatment plant that serves Forest City and Oregon, Missouri.

The volunteers filling the bags know just how important their job is.

“We are down to our last two levees west of town here that’s holding everything out,” volunteer Rich Mendenhall explained.

“If the water treatment plant goes down, we’ll lose water,” South Holt R-1 teacher Colby Morris added. “The call went out this morning that said ‘We needed help.’ Our superintendent said, ‘Hey, any teachers or students who want to go, you are available to come.’ We brought about 50 kids and teachers.”

Morris helped lead a brigade of baggers hoping to fortify the levee.

“I’ve got some family that lives down here in Forest City so I just wanted to help,” 7th grade volunteer Garrett Guyer explained.

For hours, the volunteers filled and hauled sandbags, stacking them around businesses and the water plant. Some students also helped families evacuate from their homes.

“Our community is really close,” 7th grader Lauren Quinlin said. “We work together a lot.”

It was a day that instead of being in a civics class, the students got a real-world lesson in civic pride.

“They definitely learned more today than they would in a classroom, that’s for sure,” Morris said. “They learned hard work, empathy and compassion.”

Adult volunteers like Mendenhall were grateful for the help and hopeful that it would make a difference.

“Doing what needs to be done. It’s greatly appreciated,” he said. “You hope all of your work is not for nothing. It may be, but you’ve got to try.”

Locals hope all of Thursday’s hard work holds and not only protects their treatment plant but other properties in Forest City.

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