Missouri News

Bank in downtown LaGrange moving to new location across the street

Missouri Flood

Jennifer Coombes Photographer
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Nov. 4, 2017 5:20 pm

LaGRANGE, Mo. -- After facing multiple Mississippi River flood threats over the years -- along with the stress, disruption and occasional damage that goes with it -- officials with Town and Country Bank-Midwest in LaGrange decided they'd had enough.

The bank is moving Monday to a new location. But it's not going very far.

The bank, located for years on the northeast corner of Main and Washington, is migrating to a new facility on the southwest corner.

The new site is literally a stone's throw away, but there's one big difference. The new building is up the hill just enough to boost its elevation by about 10 feet, according to Dana Sharpe, the bank's branch manager and loan officer.

The extra elevation will provide much greater protection from the swirling river that flows past the city's doorstep.

"Nobody wants to be in a flood zone," Sharpe said last week as she and three other employees were making final arrangements to move to the new facility across the street.

The new location, she said, will provide greater peace of mind for those who work at the bank, but it also will offer a more modern business space for employees and customers.

"It is a smaller building, but it's got a better layout," Sharpe said. "I think people will really appreciate the inside and how it looks and the atmosphere that we'll have."

Sharpe said all services offered by the bank, including operating hours, will remain the same.

"Our customers will not notice any difference," she said. "Instead of walking in one door, they're going to walk into one a half block away."

The old bank was slated to remain open until noon Saturday before the doors closed for good. Then moving contractors and employees were to make a final transfer of items to the new location.

"Come Monday morning at 8," Sharpe said, "the drive-up (at the new bank) will open, and at 8:30 the front doors will open. It will be business as usual."

The new bank is next door to LaGrange City Hall, which also sits on an elevated spot safer from floodwater.

Mayor Mike Lowe admits the continual threat of potential flooding has hampered development in LaGrange's downtown.

"Our biggest problem is right out there," he said, pointing to the river. "We have no levee. We don't have room for a levee. So everything is pretty well built on the west side of Main Street -- if it is built."

The bank's old site on the east side of Main was directly in the path of repeated flood threats.

In 1993 -- the year of record-high flooding on the Mississippi -- the bank faced one of its worst flood threats ever. Volunteers built a wall of sandbags that held back 7 1/2 feet of floodwater before the water gradually receded. The bank was saved.

Then in 2008, another major flood threatened the bank. Once again a team of volunteers and bank employees rushed to build a fortress of sandbags around the bank. They also installed nine sump pumps to keep out any water that leaked inside the wall.

This valiant effort, however, went for naught. The fast-rising river could not be contained. As floodwater reached waist-high levels throughout LaGrange's downtown, the bank became inundated with about 17 inches of water.

The bank temporarily operated out of Notre Dame Catholic Church until cleanup operations could be carried out.

After the 2008 flood, bank officials decided "we really need to move" to a safer location, Sharpe said. "So they looked around for a piece of property, and that's when we found the one we're moving to."

Sharpe said the old bank will be put up for sale once the move is completed.

"It's a decent building, and it served its purpose with us," she said. "We just wanted something a little more secure for our customers, and moving across the street looked like the best opportunity."

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