ABC News’ Sunlen Miller reports: Sen. Barack Obama lent a helping hand in his home state by volunteering to fill sandbags in a community threatened by the massive Midwest floods.
The presidential candidate — no doubt looking for a very presidential photo-op — will visit a flood preparation zone in Quincy, Ill. Quincy sits on the Mississippi River, and the governor has issued predisaster flood declarations for seven countries along the water for flooding that is anticipated to set in on Wednesday.
Obama, clad in jeans, gloves and boots, shoveled sand into bags with local volunteers, Mayor John Spring and State Senator John Sullivan.
"This is really making a difference and obviously nothing compares to what’s happening in Cedar Rapids right now. And our hearts go out to them," Obama said of the widespread flooding that has ravished Iowa. "But you know in some ways the situation in Cedar Rapids now, we’re just gonna have to let Mother Nature run its course. Here we can still prevent some of the problems."
Obama called for increased volunteer efforts to help protect the counties along the Mississippi in the waning hours before the flooding starts, and he promised aid to the areas of the Midwest already affected.
"We’ve got to make sure that every bit of assistance that is available gets to them right way. And we can’t have a repeat of some of the problems we saw in New Orleans," Obama told reporters.
The Illinois Senator filled more than 15 sandbags — and seemed to enjoy a break from the podium and lights of the campaign trail.
"There’s something liberating about manual labor," he joked, "instead of talking all the time.”
On Wednesday, Obama’s campaign schedule was affected by the widespread flooding — leading him to relocate an event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to Chicago — to not divert state resources going to flood relief.
* Updated from earlier today with on-site details.