Jefferson County residents seek flood assistance, not included in federal disaster declaration

Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 5:41 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Residents of a Jefferson County mobile home community say days after a nearby creek overflowed its banks and submerged their neighborhood, they’ve received little guidance from county officials.

The Greenfield mobile home community in Fenton is in a floodplain, neighboring Sugar Creek and sitting at the base of two nearby hills. As a result, some homeowners in the subdivision said they have flood insurance, which was required through their mortgage company. Others, who paid cash for their homes, or couldn’t afford the coverage, are without.

“It just literally took my car, my wife’s car, took 10 or 11 cars and washed them away,” said James Young, who moved to the community a few years ago. “There are people that live paycheck to paycheck and everything is wiped away, everything.”

Residents said they awoke to three or four feet of water outside their front doors and were forced to be rescued by first responders in boats.

Robert Bannister, who moved into his home in 2019, said his family was one of those rescued. His wife and one-week-old newborn waded through thigh-deep water to get to the rescue boats, which were unable to get to his front door.

“On my wife, it was thigh high, so it was pretty close to her incision from her C-section, so we’re trying to deal with the doctor’s office to get her on some antibiotics just in case,” Bannister said.

Other neighbors said at one point, the water was shoulder high and pouring into their vehicles. Many are now left with skirting that’s been destroyed, tree branches lodged underneath their homes and sheds full of personal belongings ruined.

“Most policies are pretty small,” one woman said. “So I’m going to have to come out of pocket for a lot of it.”

Jefferson County Emergency Management Director Warren Robinson said county inspectors have surveyed the damage in the community and continue to collect damage reports. As of Monday, he said there is not enough monetary damage to warrant a disaster declaration. However, Robinson said the possibility of federal help does remain as damage reports continue to come in amid possible additional rainfall Monday night.

Those who lost belongings, cars and suffered damage to their homes say it’s a tough pill to swallow.

“They were trying to get it looped in with FEMA in another county because there just wasn’t enough damage,” said Bannister. “But looking around, there’s no way there’s not enough damage.”

Robinson said affected residents are encouraged to call the Jefferson County Emergency Management Office at 636-797-5381. Resources provided by county agencies, non-profits and churches will be made available to residents, whether aid from FEMA is requested or not.