St. Louis-area residents face massive cleanup after flooding

The Mississippi River and its tributaries retreated Saturday from historic winter levels that flooded towns, forced evacuations and killed two dozen people, but residents in the St.

See Full Article

Louis area faced a massive cleanup and recovery effort that will likely last weeks.

The flood, fueled by more than 10 inches (25 centimetres) of rain over a three-day period that began last weekend, is blamed for 24 deaths.

"The healing process, the restoration process has begun," said Chris Greenhagen, pastor of the Central Baptist Church in Eureka, Missouri, one of the communities hit by flooding along the Meramec River earlier this week.

Water from the Mississippi, Meramec and Missouri rivers largely began receding Friday in the St. Louis area. Two major highways -- Interstate 44 and Interstate 55 -- reopened south of St. Louis on Friday and some evacuees were also allowed then to return home.

On Saturday, while residents took stock of the ruin, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said he has asked for a federal emergency declaration to help speed cleanup of the flood debris in the St. Louis area. If the federal emergency declaration is approved, the Missouri National Guard would manage the debris cleanup program at the state level and co-ordinate with federal and local governments.

Nixon and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner of Illinois also toured flood-ravaged areas Saturday as near-record crest predictions of the Mississippi River and levee breaks threatened more homes.

Noelle Pace said she packed up electronics, some furniture and her 4-year-old son's clothing and toys and left Pacific on Dec. 28, the day after she received a non-mandatory notice to evacuate. She felt lucky to find the damage isolated to her crawl space when she returned for the first time Thursday.

"Everybody around us had catastrophic damage," Pace said. She and her son have asthma, and she said she might not be able to move back for weeks while her landlord replaces soaked insulation.

"It doesn't feel real yet," she said.

While the worst of the dangerous, deadly winter flood was over in the St. Louis area, farther south, things were getting worse. Two more levees succumbed Friday, bringing to at least 11 the number of levee failures.

In the far southwestern tip of Illinois, the 500 or so people living behind the Len Small levee, which protects the hamlets of Olive Branch, Hodges Park, Unity and rural homes, were urged to move to higher ground after the Mississippi began pouring over the levee.

Illinois Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Patti Thompson said the state's flooding death toll increased to nine. Fifteen have died in Missouri.

On Saturday, Illinois' governor resumed his tour of flood-damaged areas for the second day, with planned stops in Cairo and Olive Branch. A day earlier he activated Illinois National Guard soldiers to help with flood recovery efforts as needed. In Missouri, Nixon stopped in Eureka and Cape Girardeau.

The main culprit in the St. Louis region was the Meramec River, a relatively small Mississippi tributary that bombarded communities in the far southwestern reaches of the St. Louis suburbs during the week. Two wastewater treatment plants were so damaged by the floodwaters that raw sewage spewed into the river. Hundreds of people were evacuated in Pacific, Eureka, Valley Park and Arnold, where many homes took in water.

William Reynolds said he moved at least $50,000 worth of inventory from his Valley Park store to the second story of his nearby home when the evacuation was ordered. He was still unpacking Saturday after the evacuation was lifted.

Jay Newman, chef at Frederick's Pub and Grill in Fenton, said he was mostly stuck in his Arnold home for two days because of the flooding, which closed most of the area roads.

"It was bad from every direction," Newman said.

In southeast Missouri, the Mississippi crested overnight Friday but not before damaging about two-dozen homes in Cape Girardeau, a community of nearly 40,000 residents that is mostly protected by a flood wall.

"What we'd like people to know is that in Cape Girardeau there have been so many precautions in place that even given the magnitude of this event it's really gone remarkably well for us," Molly Hood, Cape Girardeau's deputy city manager, said Saturday.

But elsewhere, the Illinois River continued to rise Saturday and could near historic crests Tuesday or Wednesday, according to Thomas Spriggs, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in St. Louis.

"It's still a very significant flood," he said Saturday. "It's going to be at major flood stage for the next three days."

Associated Press journalists Maria Sudekum in Kansas City, Jim Salter in St. Louis and Fritz Faerber in Arnold, Missouri., contributed.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Ontario ticket claims $5M Lotto 649 jackpot

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO - Saturday night's $5 million Lotto 649 draw was claimed by a ticket sold in Ontario. And the guaranteed $1 million prize went to a ticket holder in Quebec. The jackpot for the next draw on Sept. Source
  • Airlines rev up to offer discount airfares — but don't be blinded by the price, say experts

    Canada News CBC News
    Canadian airlines are lining up to offer the latest trend in air travel: cheap, no-frills fares. But passengers should be careful what they wish for. That's because some may find the discount fares so stripped down, they're just not worth it. Source
  • B.C. joins national trend to clean up political fundraising — and we're paying for it

    Canada News CBC News
    British Columbia is introducing political contribution limits, banning union and corporate donations and asking taxpayers to make up the difference, bringing the province in line with fundraising rules in most other jurisdictions in Canada. Political fundraising in B.C. Source
  • 'Quintessential British treasure:' What next for London's disappearing phone booths?

    World News CBC News
    Like a throwback to a bygone era, bright red phone booths still line the streets of London's central tourist area. These days, they serve much less as a means of communication than as a backdrop for visitors' photos. Source
  • Edmonton Liberian community mourns 3 killed in collision with stolen truck

    Canada News CTV News
    Family, friends and members of Edmonton’s Liberian community are mourning the deaths of three women who were killed in a collision that involved a stolen truck. Jeannette Wright, Glorious Decontee David, Eva Fatu Tumbay and Janet Wright Gaye were on a road trip to visit family and friends in Minnesota when their minivan was struck around 3 a.m. Source
  • RCMP called off chase of stolen truck before 3 killed in crash near Alberta-Sask. border

    Canada News CBC News
    RCMP in Saskatchewan say it called off the police pursuit of a stolen truck that ended up colliding with a minivan and killing three women from Edmonton. On Thursday morning, officers in Maidstone, Sask. Source
  • Prince of the city

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Step aside, John Tory. The real prince of this town has red hair and a cheeky smile. Prince Harry — in Toronto for his Invictus Games — charmed, dazzled, joked, empathized, hugged children, petted dogs and truly lived up to his title as the People’s Prince. Source
  • Iran tests ballistic missile and 'we won't ask anyone's permission'

    World News CBC News
    Iran said on Saturday it had successfully tested a new ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 kilometres and would keep developing its arsenal despite U.S. pressure to stop. The United States has imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran, saying its missile tests violate a UN resolution, which calls on Tehran not to undertake activities related to missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. Source
  • Ugo Fredette now in Saint-Jérôme detention centre, police say

    Canada News CBC News
    Ugo Fredette is now in a detention centre in Saint-Jérôme after spending nearly a week in two Ontario hospitals and a Quebec hospital, after he was arrested last week in connection with an Amber Alert case. Source
  • Damage in Puerto Rico strains relief efforts by agencies

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Federal agencies grappled Saturday with the vast scale of the disaster in Puerto Rico left by Hurricane Maria, the third major storm to strike the U.S. in less than a month. Three days after the massive hurricane crossed the U.S. Source