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

  • Strong Indonesia earthquake damages buildings, at least 3 injured

    World News CTV News
    JAKARTA, Indonesia -- A strong, shallow earthquake rocked Indonesia's central Sulawesi province Monday evening, injuring at least three people and damaging some buildings and houses, but producing no tsunami warning. The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude-6.8 quake was centred in a thinly populated area 79 kilometres (49 miles) southeast of the provincial capital, Palu, at a depth of 9.1 kilometres (6 miles). Source
  • Accused Portland stabber liked Nazis, comics and pot

    World News Toronto Sun
    Jeremy Joseph Christian was a man seething with rage. The 35-year-old Oregon man is accused of stabbing to death two good Samaritans who came to the rescue of two young women being harangued on a Portland commuter train. Source
  • Germany's Merkel says U.S. no longer a reliable partner for Europe

    World News CBC News
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel underlined her doubts about the reliability of the United States as an ally on Monday but said she was a "convinced trans-Atlanticist," fine-tuning her message after surprising Washington with her frankness a day earlier. Source
  • Ecuadorean president calls WikiLeaks founder a hacker

    World News CTV News
    QUITO, Ecuador -- Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno is calling WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange a hacker. But Moreno added Monday that even though he considers Assange a hacker, Ecuador's government will allow the Australian to remain at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Source
  • Popular vote numbers reveal wider margin of victory for Andrew Scheer

    Canada News CBC News
    Andrew Scheer defeated Maxime Bernier by 62,593 to 55,544 votes, according to figures provided by a spokesperson of the Conservative Party. The numbers also reveal that more than 23,000 members included neither candidate on their preferential ballot. Source
  • Tim Hortons worker lends minivan to stranded strangers for relay race

    Canada News CTV News
    A Nova Scotia Tim Hortons drive-thru worker became the MVP of a stranded relay race team when she offered up her minivan to a group of complete strangers with no other way to get to the start line. Source
  • Ontario to raise minimum wage and update labour laws, premier says

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- The benefits of Ontario's renewed economic growth are not shared evenly across the province, Premier Kathleen Wynne said Monday as she planned to announce a raise to minimum wage as well as much anticipated changes to labour laws. Source
  • Sick, diabetic man says Greyhound bus driver left him stranded on highway

    Canada News CBC News
    A diabetic Manitoba man says he was left stranded at the side of a dark highway, hundreds of kilometres from home, by a Greyhound bus driver. Barry Spence, 41, travels from his home in Thompson, Man. Source
  • Calgary man charged in deaths of woman, young girl to stand trial

    Canada News CTV News
    CALGARY -- A provincial court judge has ordered a Calgary man to stand trial in the killing of a woman and her five-year-old daughter. Edward Downey is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Sara Baillie and her daughter Taliyah Marsman last summer. Source
  • Trudeau asks Pope to apologize for residential schools [Video]

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    VATICAN CITY — Canadians are anxious to reconcile with Indigenous Peoples, Justin Trudeau described telling Pope Francis on Monday as he asked the pontiff to apologize for the role the Catholic Church played in the tragedy of residential schools. Source