By SHERI GASSAWAY
Bellefontaine Neighbors, MO – Union members answered this community’s desperate plea for help recently, lending a hand with sandbagging efforts to prevent homes here from being flooded in a race against time.
Community volunteers began sandbagging on Monday, June 3, along a 200-yard stretch at Marias and Lebon drives near Maline Creek, a tributary of the Mississippi River. Their goal was to fill enough sandbags to build a four-foot wall. They weren’t able to finish the job on Monday and heavy rain was predicted for evening of Tuesday, June 4.
Pat White, president of the St. Louis Labor Council, received a call around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday from Adam McBride, director of legislative and governmental affairs for the Eastern Missouri Laborers’ District Council, who said St. Louis County Executive Sam Page was requesting urgent sandbagging help in the city.
PHENOMENAL TURNOUT IN SHORT AMOUNT OF TIME
“I went home and changed, put out a call for help on Facebook and drove to the city,” White said. “Within half an hour, we had volunteers from Laborers’ Local 42, Heat & Frost Insulators Local 1 and SEIU Local 1. It was phenomenal turnout in a short amount of time, and we got the job done before it rained.”
Kevin FitzGerald, a retired member of Heat and Frost Insulators Local 1, a vocal workers’ advocate and member of Missouri Jobs with Justice, saw White’s post on Facebook, shared the information on his own Facebook page and headed out to help.
“What an opportunity to be part of something much greater than oneself,” FitzGerald said. “The experience was just short of spiritual. Everybody just came together and did what they needed to do.”
‘WE'RE VERY THANKFUL’
Bellefontaine Neighbors Mayor Tommie Pierson Sr., a 56-year member of the United Auto Workers and former state representative, said he checked the wall later in the week and it was holding up.
“The job the union members did was amazing. Without their help, we wouldn’t have been able to get the wall up in time,” Pierson said. “We’re very thankful.”