However, with the Missouri River rising over six inches in the last two days and over a foot in the past week, they finally had to give up, said Jim Backes, who owns part of the levee.
"It was just getting too dangerous to have people working on it," he said on Saturday afternoon.
They had "given up" once before late Thursday evening, only to find the river had dropped roughly an inch by the next morning. But on Friday, the river started to rise again, hitting 30.78 inches at Waverly -- another second high record. The highest mark ever recorded at Waverly was 31.15 feet during the Flood of 1993.
Water is now filling in over the approximately 500 crop acres the levee was protecting and will soon push up against the Malta Bend levee, which protects about 5,000 acres of farmland.
A sandbagging machine was again in Saline County over the weekend, arriving late on Friday, July 8. Volunteers at Grand Pass made about 10,500 sandbags late Friday and all day Saturday, July 9.
On Sunday, July 10, volunteers from Malta Bend and about 30 prisoners from the Boonville and Tipton correctional centers bagged almost 9,400 sandbags in Malta Bend. If needed, the bags will be used to shore up the Malta Bend and Cole Lake levees, located below Malta Bend.
Since last week, the machine has been used to bag almost 33,000 sandbags in the county.
At Grand Pass, where they have been sandbagging low spots on a private levee, as well as the Saline-Lafayette levee, they are still taking it "day by day."
"It's getting soft, but we haven't lost anything," said Kelly Thorp. "Everybody's getting tired."
Further downstream near Miami, they are sandbagging low spots and watching for animals burrowing into the levee.
"We're still getting a lot of seep water," said Alan Clements, a board member of the Saline County Levee District No. 2.
"Hopefully if it doesn't get any higher than it is, it won't soak them up all the way through, but they are getting awful soaked up," said Alan Clements.
The longer water is high on the levees, the more likely they are to develop soft spots and "push out" or breach.
Most of the farmers have said if water stays up until August, the seep water will probably drown out most of the crops growing in the bottoms for this year.
However, a breach or overtopping of a levee could ruin fields for several years, if not permanently, depending on where water runs through and how much sand is deposited. Several "blow holes" resulting from the Flood of 1993 and the Flood of 1951 are visible throughout the Saline County bottoms.
On Friday, July 8, the Missouri Department of Transportation issued an alert warning U.S. Highway 65 will probably be closed in a 10 mile stretch between Waverly and Carrollton.
Currently water is across the road, but the highway is still open in one lane, according to MoDot.
Photo gallery of the sandbagging machine: http://www.marshallnews.com/gallery/8286