MCCLURE — Some in Alexander County want people to know their battle against floodwaters is far from over.
EAST CAPE GIRARDEAU — All Izayah Gilbert could see was the water and what he could do with it. It’s all his mom could see, too, but all she co…
Lesley Stoffel owns a home in McClure, a small, rural community that sits within sight of the Mississippi River. She said the house in Egyptian Acres is surrounded by water that is waist-high. Conditions are similar just down the road in the river town of East Cape Girardeau. All this after news spread of rivers cresting and falling after sustained high water levels that lasted months.
The waters wreaking havoc in Alexander County and throughout the region are not from over-topped levees, but instead from water that has seeped through them after sustained high waters saturated the earth barriers. Rivers have been high since January, the result of a wet winter and near constant rainfall in the spring.
“Some of these people can’t get out of their homes without a boat,” Stoffel said of the conditions along the Mississippi River.
Stoffel said some of these people are isolated for different reasons. The water may be keeping them from getting out easily, but she also said some can’t leave their homes because they constantly need to be monitoring water levels and the pumps that are protecting their homes.
These are the people she and fellow volunteer organizer Jessie Meyers are trying to help.
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About three weeks ago, Stoffel began exploring ways of helping those who have been impacted by flooding long term. She collected — and still is collecting — nonperishable food items, as well as toiletries, for those who have become isolated.
She also came up with another idea: Find a way to provide a regular community meal for those impacted by the floodwaters.
Jessie Myers, also of McClure, had a similar sentiment. She met Pat Dickerson at The Spark Ministries in McClure, where much of the volunteer effort has been working out of. Myers saw a woman on the brink.
Dickerson’s home was, and still is, surrounded by water, and she told Myers she had been trying to make her way out of the house without getting wet. She was jumping from stepping stone to stepping stone and fell in twice. When she got to Spark, Myers said she just broke down and cried.
“I was getting where I was just about crazy, I think,” Dickerson told The Southern.
She found hope in action.
On the Fourth of July, she helped prepare pea salad and pineapple upside down cake for a volunteer barbecue.
“It was like going to church,” she said of pitching in.
Seeing this impact on Dickerson inspired Myers.
The Mississippi River reached its highest point weeks ago in deep Southern Illinois, but the waters threatening homes in the communities of McClure and East Cape Girardeau continue to rise.
“Watching her go from being broken and hurt to having life and happiness and joy made me want to do that for everyone,” Myers said.
So, she and Stoffel began working on getting donations and finding ways to prepare meals for those impacted by the floodwaters. It started this week with a delivery of spaghetti to East Cape — and it was taken individually to each person in need. Stoffel and Myers said the fellowship of these meals or even a personal delivery can be incredibly meaningful.
“Being able to cry, laugh and pray together is important right now,” Stoffel said.
Later this week, she plans to have chicken and dressing and other veggies for residents in McClure.
Myers said it is the plan to have these meals once a week in both communities and they also hope to send care boxes to East Cape, McClure and Gale twice a week.
But all of this lasts only as long as donations keep coming in.
Myers and Stoffel said anyone interested in donating shelf-stable foods or personal hygiene items can bring them to Southern Roots Hair Salon, which is at 335 S. Main St. in Anna, or to The Spark Ministries, at 40842 Illinois 3 in McClure.