After suffering loss of puppies amid feet of flood water, St. Charles County dog rescue is rebuilding thanks to support from community

Stray Paws Rescue experienced several feet of flood water rushing through its doors in the early morning hours of July 26, claiming the lives of ten puppies.
Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 6:30 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) -A St. Charles County animal rescue is continuing its clean up process, more than three weeks after flood water ravaged its building.

Stray Paws Rescue sits on Depot Avenue in Old Towne St. Peters. As flood water began to rise in the early morning hours of July 26, President Linda Roever said staff members tried desperately to get to the shelter.

“We literally couldn’t access it,” she said. “They were taking boats in and out of the neighborhood and finally I decided to walk along the railroad tracks and then I waded into the building, where the water was around knee-deep.”

When she got inside, she made a tragic discovery.

“We lost 10 puppies that were in pens and couldn’t get up off the ground,” she said. “It was absolutely horrible and we’ve had some staff members who really continue to struggle with what we saw,” she said.

Another 15 adult-aged dogs remained in their pens and crates. Some, she said, were able to climb on top of their beds to escape the water, while others were left standing in it.

“Pretty much they were in the water still, chest deep in the water, some of them were up on their elevated beds because they were in pens, the other ones that were in cages were all the way up to their neck in water,” Roever said. “But everybody was still able to stand.”

With the help of area first responders, Roever was able to get the adult dogs to safety. Since the flood, they’ve all been placed in foster homes and some have been adopted.

Once the water receded, Roever was able to get a better look at the damage. The building’s HVAC system, electrical and plumbing needed to be fixed. Three feet of drywall closest to the floor, marking the height of the water, was ripped out. Valuable paper records in the office were soaked.

“We’ve never seen anything like this,” she said. “We’ve had water here and there but nothing ever like this.”

Stray Paws Rescue moved into the location just over a year ago after sinking thousands of dollars into renovations. The building previously housed a landscaping company, Roever said.

“All of that was ruined,” she said. “Now we start over.”

Starting over wouldn’t be possible without donations made by the public and local businesses stepping up to offer their services free of charge or at a discounted rate.

“The silver lining of all of this is the community has stepped up to help us,” Roever said. “It’s been amazing. We couldn’t do it without them.”

The rescue sits near both the Dardenne and Spencer Creeks but is not in a floodplain according to the county’s floodplain maps.

The City of St. Peters said all of its pumping systems and mitigation efforts worked to the best of their abilities.

“When you get at least a foot of rain in an eight-hour time and something like Dardenne Creek goes up 20 feet, where is that water supposed to go?” asked Lisa Bedian, a spokesperson for the City of St. Peters. “There’s pumps and everything in place and they operated like they were supposed to, it’s just that systems are not built to handle that kind of capacity.”

Bedian told News 4 while the pumping stations turn on automatically, similar to a residential sump pump, debris quickly covered grates on the ground, causing a backup.

“The grates where the water flows into, if that gets covered with debris, gravel, dirt, grass clippings, things from your front yard...if stuff gets sucked into those grates water can’t go through,” she said. “So we actually had people that were manually going to those grates with shovels and rakes and digging that stuff off the grates so the water could go through.”

The city estimates at least 250 homes sustained damage as a result of the record rainfall. FEMA has been collecting damage estimates along with the Small Business Administration.

The city’s Rec-Plex saw about four inches of water come into portions of the building, something that has never happened before, according to Bedian. All repairs have been completed except for damage done to two wooden floor courts, in which the city is waiting on supplies to arrive.

All city parks that were damaged from high water have since reopened.

To donate to Stray Paws Rescue, visit their Facebook page.