Record-breaking floods sweep through St. Louis area - KMOV.com

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Record-breaking floods sweep through St. Louis area

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A home was seen floating in the Meramec River Wednesday A home was seen floating in the Meramec River Wednesday
Flooding near Eureka High School in Missouri. Flooding near Eureka High School in Missouri.
The High Ridge Water Treatment Plant was impacted by the flooding in Missouri. The High Ridge Water Treatment Plant was impacted by the flooding in Missouri.
Car lots flooded in Cahokia, Ill. Car lots flooded in Cahokia, Ill.
Union, Mo. was one of the first cities flooded. (Photo courtesy of Heather Shultz) Union, Mo. was one of the first cities flooded. (Photo courtesy of Heather Shultz)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

The St. Louis area is experiencing record-setting flooding from rain showers over the past weekend. The excess water is also bringing back memories from the Flood of 1993. So far, 15 deaths in Missouri have been blamed on the floods. Meanwhile, in Illinois, seven deaths have been related to the floods.

Moderate to major river flooding will persist through the end of the week. Most area rivers are forecast to crest in major flood stage from Wednesday into Thursday and Friday.

Rising Rivers

The Bourbeuse River crested Tuesday at 34 feet and 3 inches, and is now down to 30.1’.

The Meramec River crested at 35.5’ near Pacific on Wednesday night. The river crested at 46’ in Eureka and 44.1’ in Valley Park. It crested at 47.2’ in Arnold early Thursday morning, which was higher than in 1993. All of these are record high flood levels.

Up north, the Mississippi River near Winfield, Mo. Crested at 34.4’ this morning. It will crested at 30.9’ near Grafton, Ill. and 35.6’ near Alton, Ill. For St. Louis, the river is expected to crest at 42.5’ late on Thursday.

The river is expected to peak at 47.5’ near Chester in southern Missouri on Saturday afternoon.

Cities affected by floods

This record rain fall has led to many cities near the river flooding to be affected and in some cases even evacuated.

Union, Mo. has been in national headlines. Significant flooding has shutdown a large portion of the Franklin County city. SkyZoom4 showed images of businesses and homes submerged in water.

West Alton, Mo. have evacuated the area due ot the over-topping of the Consolidated North County Levee on the Mississippi River.

On Monday, authorities issued a voluntary evacuation request, but on Tuesday said flooding of the city was imminent.

Kathy Wunderlich, resident of West Alton, says she is bracing for the worst as she tries to get as much as she can from her house before flood waters sweep it all away.

"We emptied out our basement of anything important, which is strictly storage anyway. We cleaned out the house of clothes. Things that can't be replaced. Important pieces of furniture," said Wunderlich.

In Alton, city crews are working tirelessly laying down sandbags to build a wall to keep flood waters out. 

In Valley Park, Mo. mandatory evacuations began on Wednesday morning.

In a message to the residents of Valley Park, Mayor Michael A. Pennise said the evacuations will take place between 7 and 10 a.m. The evacuation route is Highway 141 north.

When people move to higher ground, city officials said security and law enforcement officials will patrol the evacuation area and guard all entrances and exits into and out of the area.

Crews will work around-the-clock to make sure the levee is sound. City leaders said the U.S. Corps of Engineers has reassured them that Valley Park’s levee is in great condition with no signs of any breaches to this point.

City leaders want anyone needing assistance leaving their homes to contact the Valley Park Fire District at 636-225-4260, or the Valley Park City Hall at 636-225-5171, ext. 1 or 8.

In Arnold, Mo. city officials held a press conference on Wednesday afternoon. They said they expect flooding to damage 150 homes.

The city has set up two command centers, one for the flooding on the north side of town, and another for the flooding on the south side of town. A shelter has also been set up at the First Baptist Church of Arnold, located at 2012 Missouri State Road.

Evacuations have not been made mandatory, although many people have left the area.

A 24-mile section of Interstate 44 was shutdown near Eureka because of the rising Meramec river. A house was seen by SkyZoom4 4 floating down the river.

Water treatment plants fighting floods

Although the area is not short on water, some area water treatment plants are battling to stay open.

A water treatment plant with the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) has been shut down due to flood waters in Valley Park.

The sandbag levee around the Grand Glaize plant, located near the intersection of Marshall Road and 10th street in Valley Park, was breached around 6 a.m. Thursday, according to MSD.  A portion of the plant is currently underwater

Following the breach, crews were able to shut down the plant and pump station, and evacuate safely.  

The sewage normally treated at the plant is being diverted into nearby rivers and streams. MSD is telling customers to avoid contact with any floodwater or sewage in low lying flooded areas near the plant. If anyone comes in contact with the water, they should wash thoroughly with soap and water.

In High Ridge, Mo., officials said that the District 2 water treatment facility was impacted by flood waters Wednesday morning. The plant  is now under water, and all sandbagging efforts have been stopped. The district's tanks should last about a day, and provide safe drinking water to all residents, officials said.

In an attempt to prevent the floodwaters from breaching the plant, pre-made sandbags were shipped in and hundreds of volunteers came out to help put them down. 

According to the Jefferson County Emergency Management office, a sandbag wall failed, allowing the flood water into the plant. Officials considered several options, including bringing in large sandbags to build a new wall around the plant, then pump out the water, as well bringing in tanker trucks with clean drinking water to fill the water district's tank. 

Ultimately, the decision was made to bring in the tanker trucks, which will ensure water for customers in the southern half of the district. For customers in the northern half of the district, officials plan to facilitate an emergency connection with Missouri American Water in the area of Old Gravois Road in Fenton. 

Tuesday night, officials with the plant said if the facility were to flood, the plant would have to shut down and be completely cleaned; an enormous undertaking for the small operation.

Early Tuesday evening, officials in High Ridge put out an urgent call for residents to conserve water, as floodwater levels continued rising.

The plant provides water to residents and businesses in High Ridge and northern House Springs.

MSD said that an overflow at the Fenton Waste Water Treatment Plant resulted in sewage being diverted into rivers and streams in the area.

MSD said late Monday, crews learned the plant was not operating normally. They believe the heavy rain and rising water levels of the Meramec River led to the plant exceeding capacity resulting in an overflow and power outage.

"We suspect the river is going to go three feet above our levy . We expect this plant to be flooded completely before the event is over," said MSD Executive Director Brian Hoelscher.

The sewage typically treated at the plant is not being processed. Instead, it is flowing into nearby rivers and streams, prompting MSD to warn the public to avoid contact with any flood water or sewage in the areas near the plant – located at South Old Highway 141 and Gravois Road.

"Even though the plant is gone, one of the real important things we need to make sure is that we don't have the river flooding people's basements. So, we are going through the collection system and it blocking off and putting up temporary pumps where appropriate," Hoelscher said. 

Officials said the plant usually handles 6.75 million gallons per day, but at the time of the overflow they plant was treating nearly 24 million gallons.

If you should come in contact with the sewage, MSD says you should wash thoroughly with soap and water.

The City of Fenton’s Public Works and the Mo. Department of Natural Resources has been notified, according to MSD.

Water conservation warnings

Missouri American Water is encouraging customers in south St. Louis County to conserve water over the next couple of days.

The water company said some customers may experience lower than normal water pressure due to the recent flooding along the Meramec River.

The affected areas are: Fenton, Oakland, Marlborough, Crestwood, Grantwood Village, Affton, Wilbur Park, Green Park, Valley Park, Mehlville, Lemay, Webster Groves, Shrewsbury, MacKenzie, Sunset Hills, Sappington and Lakeshire.

According to Missouri America Water, customers in the affected areas can conserve water by repairing any faucet and toilet leaks, make sure dishwasher is full before running it, match water level to size of the laundry load, and consider taking shorter showers.

The quality of the drinking water is still good, and meets, or surpasses, all state and federal regulations, the company stated in a press release.

On a more pressing matter, a boil order has been issued for residents in High Ridge, Missouri.

The Public Water Supply District #2 issued the boil order Thursday morning, one day after the water plant was impacted by flood waters.

The boil order is effective immediately and will remain in place until further notice, according to officials with the plant.

Customers in the impacted area should bring water to a rolling boil for three minutes before using it for drinking or cooking. To disinfect food contact surfaces residents should immerse them for at least a minute in clean tap water that contains at least one teaspoon of unscented household bleach per gallon. Any ice cubes made should be disposed of and remade using water that has been boiled. Tap water is clear for use if it is for washing or bathing

Interstate closures

The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) closed a stretch of Interstate 44 Wednesday morning. 

The interstate was shut down from Bowles Avenue to Highway 100 in Gray Summit starting around 1:30 a.m. 

During the morning, MoDOT officials told News 4, lanes of the roadway were closed from Interstate 270 to Highway 100 in Gray Summit, but SkyZoom4 4 flew over the area and saw cars traveling up until Bowles. MoDOT officials later said they plan on closing the roadway down starting at Interstate 270 before 1 p.m.

Tuesday afternoon, MoDOT announced the roadway would be shut down as the Meramec River rises.

Highway 141 was already closed, as nearly five feet of water covered the roadway. Officials said the situation will continue to get worse, because the area is already prone to flooding. MoDOT expected the water levels to rise by seven or eight feet by Tuesday night.

"What that is going to cause is I-44 back to the west, just a short distance [from the intersection with 141], is actually going to be overtopped overnight,” said MoDOT Assistant District Engineer Tom Blair.  “So we’ll have water on Interstate 44 probably around six or seven o’clock tomorrow morning.”

All eastbound interstate traffic is being detoured off at Route 30 in St. Clair. From there, drivers will take Route 30 to Route 141 to northbound I-55 to I-270. 

All westbound interstate traffic is being detoured to I-270 east to I-55 south to Route 141 to Route 30 and back to I-44 at St. Clair in Franklin County. 

Drivers can also use Route 100 between I-44 in Gray Summit and I-270. 

Traffic was backed-up for several miles on I-55 near Meramec Bottom Road on Wednesday night. Crews were battling rising waters from the Meramec River.

Thursday morning, Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) crews closed both directions of Interstate 55 at the Meramec River, mile marker 193.

Due to the closure, the only crossing between St. Louis and Jefferson County is Route 231/Telegraph. The alternate route is Route 231 to US 61/67 to Imperial Main Street.

The Missouri Highway Patrol shut down the northbound lanes of the interstate at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday and began diverting traffic onto Highway 141, and officers later reduced southbound traffic to a single lane.

Raw video: Traffic back-up goes for miles

MoDOT worked aggressively throughout Wednesday to keep I-55 open, battling historic water levels with sandbags and pumping systems.

Crews were using a pump to redirect water off the roadway back into the river, attempting to buy time for the sandbagging efforts. 

Traffic on southbound I-55 was backed up for several miles from late afternoon throughout the evening, and the surrounding roadways are gridlocked as well. 

Other road closure information:

St. Louis County

Missouri

Illinois

Sandbagging opportunities

Many volunteers are trying to prevent flooding happen in multiple cities in the area. Many more volunteers are still needed.

Here is a list of places in need of volunteers:

The District 2 water treatment plant, located at 7008 Twin Rivers Road in Eureka.

Volunteers in Fenton should call city hall at 636-343-2080

Starling Estates subdivision in Arnold, located near Starling Airport Road

Fultz baseball field at River Des Peres Park

Volunteers in Kimmiswick, Mo. should meet at the Blue Owl.

Red Cross opens shelters on both side of river

Due to recent flooding, the American Red Cross has opened up the following four shelters to help those in need.

Nameoki Methodist Church
1900 Pontoon Road
Granite City, Illinois

First Baptist Church
2012 Missouri State Road
Arnold, Missouri

St. Robert Community Center
114 J.H. Williamson Drive
St. Robert, Missouri

Tri-County Community Senior Center
800 West Union
Pacific, Missouri

As of Monday, the Red Cross said shelters in University City, St. Peters and Pacific remain on standby.

Tips to stay safe

FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program and the Illinois State Police Department have some tips for staying safe in light of recent flooding.

The Illinois State Police Department is reminding motorists about the dangers of driving across flooded roadways. The department is urging drivers to reduce speeds, drive with caution and allow for extra travel time.

Flood-related driving tips include, do not through flooded areas, if a roadway is covered by water that seems shallow do not attempt to cross it and if your stalls do not attempt to push it out.

FEMA warns residents that during a flood they should move to high ground, watch out for water, listen for updates and turn off power.

After a flood, according to FEMA, residents should check for damage, remove wet items, plan before making repairs and file a flood insurance claim.

Click here to find out about the National Flood Insurance Program

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