Flooding wreaks havoc in St. Louis area

Flooding in Fenton damaged many local businesses and homes. Emily Van de Riet | The journal
Flooding in Fenton damaged many local businesses and homes. Emily Van de Riet | The journal

Nearly half a million tons of debris had to be removed from homes and businesses after recent record flooding in Missouri. That is around 500,000 Mini Coopers worth of debris for comparison. The flooding caused at least 15 deaths in Missouri and around 7,100 damaged buildings, according to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon.

“This was a severe and extremely damaging flooding event, and we are continuing to help flood-affected communities recover and rebuild,” Nixon said.

Webster University senior Dylan Stevens lives in one of the affected areas and had trouble getting to and from his home in Eureka. Stevens’ brother Brandon had to evacuate his home when the floodwaters reached the basement.

“They were out of their home for a week and a half,” Stevens said. “(Flooding) is a risk he’s going to have to deal with for as long as he lives in Eureka.”

Stevens said his brother had flood insurance because he lives in a rental property, but his parents’ home did not.

“You just don’t think about that,” Stevens said. “People don’t think it’s going to happen to them. But it obviously can.”

As of Jan. 14, MODOT listed 47 roads closed due to flooding. By comparison, 285 roads were closed when the rivers were cresting, according to Senator Claire McCaskill. 

Moving forward, residents like Stevens hope emergency response will be faster and more efficient.

“It’s weird to see where all your friends lived in highschool underwater,” Stevens said. “[Missouri] didn’t really do anything until after the fact. There needs to be more sandbagging and more evacuations more quickly.”

Relief funds of $1 million dollars were provided by the U.S. Transportation Secretary and Federal Highway Administration. The funds were provided to clean up and repair roads where it was needed most.

Nixon requested a federal emergency declaration Jan. 2 and as a result a curbside debris pickup program called “Operation Recovery” was implemented for those affected by the flooding.

Patrick Giblin, Director of Webster University’s Public Relations said students had troubles with travel during the peak days of flooding, but no home damage has been reported. For more information about flooding and Operation Recovery, visit the official Missouri State Website at http://www.mo.gov/flood-recovery.

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