‘It feels impossible’; flood victims wade through clean-up efforts as hundreds of homes are condemned

Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 11:01 PM CDT
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UNIVERSITY CITY, Mo. (KMOV) - Outside of Carol Horth’s University City home sits a large red dumpster filled with flood-soaked furniture, clothing and memories.

“I’ve lost half of my belongings in the basement, so I can’t walk away from the balance of what I have,” said Horth, who’s lived in the home on Birch Lane for two decades.

On her front door is a bright orange paper with the words “condemnation order,” one of the dozens of homes that have been deemed unsafe or unfit.

But like many, Horth is choosing to remain in her home and work to make it livable again. She says she’s replaced the electrical and the HVAC, but it needs to be sanitized to pass inspection. But she can’t get rid of the rest of the damaged items until she gets a new dumpster which is hard to come by.

“You get so overwhelmed you don’t know where to turn, so you just want to go sit in the corner,” she explained.

On nearby Vernon Avenue, Charles Hill is the landlord of a small apartment building. He too had notices on the doors of each of his units. On Monday, a University City inspector came and said he was good to allow tenants to move back in.

In St. Louis City, 29 homes have been condemned, mostly in the Ellendale neighborhood. A spokesperson for the city says no there are no permit fees for repairs on flood-damaged property. In Hazelwood, 375 apartment units have been declared unlivable. City leaders are working with property owners to ensure they are repaired in the proper manner.

Since the federal disaster was declared, FEMA has approved applications from 1,600 households and paid out $7 million in disaster relief as of Monday.

Horth applied and is anxiously waiting to hear back. Flood victims can apply online or get help in person at the FEMA resource center in Hazelwood. More centers will open across the region.