In Rocheport, residents, business owners and volunteers have completed almost two weeks of sandbagging, as the community now watches to see what the river does next.
And people here said it’s the waiting and watching that’s the hardest part.
Tuesday afternoon at Rocheport’s Meriwether Cafe and Bike Shop, owner Brandon Vair sat with a group of staff members from Les Bourgeois Winery. The group had spent nearly two weeks volunteering in the city’s sandbagging efforts, and were taking a break to sit back and eat lunch.
Vair held his four-month old son Bel and visited with the group, the floodwaters steps away from the cafe. But he said Meriwether’s – like other Rocheport businesses - is open.
And he said after days of intense sandbagging, waiting is the hard part.
“What happens now - we wait and watch the river,” said Vair. "Just like every farmer … just like everybody else. Nobody’s special. We are all at the will of nature right now. ... You can plan for the worst and hope for the best and I think that’s what we’ve done.”
Rocheport City Alderman Conrad Yates was enjoying a day of rest at his Yates House Bed & Breakfast Inn, after the intense days of sandbagging. He said he saw the historic 1993 flooding, having moved to the area two years before, and he feels community response efforts have been greatly improved since then because of cell phones, GPS and better river level reporting that is accessible on mobile phones.
And he says the community has done everything it can to stay ahead of the flood waters.
“Sandbagging has been done as well as it can possibly be done for the moment,” said Yates. “We’re under no illusions that this will moment will last – there are many variables that could lead to higher river levels.”
In the meantime, Yates and Vair both emphasized that Rocheport is open - that no businesses have been closed by the floodwaters. Yates said one of the hardest things for business owners is fighting the impression that the city is under water – it’s not. And the best way people can support the town, he said, is to come out and have something to eat.