Rock Hill resident’s house at risk of falling into creek as flood damage worsens

“I feel like it’s a giant game of pass the buck. I think they are trying to mitigate their responsibility.”
Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 10:27 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- Rock Hill resident Max Burch is a first-time homebuyer getting a crash course in the reality of homeownership.

“I’m like half in, half packed,” Burch explained. “Do I get full unpacked if I’m going to have to leave here in a week if it gets condemned?”

Burch closed on the house on July 27. The next day, the St. Louis region saw historic rainfall and flooding, causing the 10-foot-tall retaining wall behind his property to be pushed forward several feet.

It’s putting his house at risk of falling into the Rock Hill Creek that feeds into Deer Creek.

“I’ve yet to make a payment on this house, and I’m worried if there will be a house to make a payment on in a month or two,” Burch said.

The 25-year-old has worked with Rock Hill, the Metropolitan Sewer District, and the Army Corps of Engineers for help.

“I feel like it’s a giant game of pass the buck,” Burch shared. “I think they are trying to mitigate their responsibility. As your reporting helped out determining MSD helps maintain but does not supposedly own them. Trying to get some assistance in fixing it.”

“If there was a way we could help, we would help,” Sean Stone with MSD Project Clear said.

Stone said his engineers have been out to inspect the earth and wall. They suggest tapping a geotechnical engineer to complete a slope stability analysis to evaluate the land.

“Somebody we don’t have on staff. If we had that kind of person, we would absolutely provide that person to him, it’s just a person we don’t have,” Stone said.

“Most people I’ve talked to don’t want to touch it because of the liability,” Burch shared.

Butch did apply for FEMA assistance made available from the disaster declaration President Biden signed on August 9.

He said the feds turned him down because there is no proof he owns the retaining wall.

In the meantime, an estimate for peering his house is $20,000. But if Burch is left picking up the tab for this wall and earth caving in, it could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“I understand it’s not a simple solution, nothing overnight but in the short term,” Burch explained. “I’d like my house not to fall into the creek.

This isn’t the first erosion issue News 4 has covered in recent weeks in Rock Hill. There are signs the city is moving forward to help residents along its creeks. This week at the city council, it was decided the city will request quotes from engineers.

The plan is to get a comprehensive look at the creeks and rate areas based on need.

Once the city has the scope of the problem, News 4 is told it will work with MSD, Ladue, and Warson Woods on identifying a fix and how to fund it.