Southside flooding results in water rescues and evacuations

The city is pointing to debris clogging up a nearby creek and the heavy rain as the cause of the severe flooding.

Posted: Jul 20, 2020 5:29 PM
Updated: Jul 21, 2020 7:47 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Monday morning's unexpected five inches of rain and a debris jam along Contrary Creek has flooded the southend of St. Joseph.

The rising waters completely taking over homes, resulting in families being water rescued and forced to evacuate. 

“We woke up and water was running down the street,” said Sandra Vandever, evacuated resident. 

Southside residents watched in disbelief as high waters swept through the streets. “This is my church right here and I was just worried. Someone called that goes to the church that lives in this area and they said it’s raining really hard, you better get down there,” said Oliver Weston. 

The city is pointing to debris clogging up a nearby creek and the heavy rain as the cause of the severe flooding.

"We got a call on Friday about logs piling up between here and JJ. We went down to where we could see and couldn't find anything. Obviously, with this five inch rain they all congregated right here at Marie. Anytime you get five inches of rain in a short period of time it's just hard to stop it," said Ron Hook, Buchanan County Commissioner. 

The downpour knee high in some parts of the city, forcing emergency personnel to perform water rescues.

St. Joseph Fire Department, St. Joseph Police Department, Buchanan County Sheriff's Department and the Buchanan County EMS teaming up to rescue families, babies and dogs stranded by the high flood waters. 

“We got our dog and our child, but that was pretty much it,” said Vandever. 

The flood waters hit entire neighborhoods. The St. Joseph Fire Department even pulling out two rescue boats. 

“St. Joseph fire department responded with their water rescue unit," said Wally Patrick, Executive Director for Buchanan County EMS. 

Residents were devastated watching the water inch higher and higher up their neighbors' homes. “My neighbor here is such a good neighbor. He is going through it right now, he’s got a lot of water over there. If it rains anymore, I don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Weston.

The city searched for options on a place to house all those affected by the flooding. Hook reported that,"200 to 300 people live in the area and are probably affected by water in some way," Hook said. "It's really sad all these people got this mud and water in their homes and yards."

The original plan was to take those displaced by the floods to a staging area at Green Hills. St. Joseph used a few of their city buses to take those evacuated residents to a safe location, but the city is now using the Civic Arena to temporarily house those evacuated residents for the day. 

In all, emergency personnel say they made 50 water rescues during the flooding.

The Red Cross is searching for overnight lodging for those displaced by the southside flooding. There are currently 22 residents, three cats and three dogs staying at Civic Arena.  They say anyone else needing assistance can call 1-800-RED-CROSS and talk to a caseworker.

St. Joseph Fire Department has some advice for residents regarding flooding:

According to the CDC: Floodwater and standing waters can be dangerous and can make you vulnerable to infectious diseases, chemical hazards, and injuries.

Exposure to contaminated flood water can cause:

o Wound infections
o Skin rash
o Gastrointestinal illness
o Tetanus - If you came in contact with floodwaters and you have not had a tetanus shot within the last 10 years, please contact your physician.

In addition, flooded areas may contain electrical or fire hazards connected with downed power lines, spilled gasoline, charged electrical appliances, propane tanks, and natural gas equipment.

After the water recedes:
o Be sure all electric and gas services are turned OFF before entering the premises for the first time after a flood.
o Have an electrician check for grounds and other unsafe conditions before reconnecting the system.
o Until your local water company, utility, or public health department declares your water source safe, purify your water, not only for drinking and cooking, but also for washing any part of the body or dishes.
o Be sure a gas company technician has inspected the home before restoring gas service.
o If your hot water heater was submerged in water or sustained water damage, do not relight the pilot light. Do not attempt to repair, these units must be replaced.

Saint Joseph
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Tuesday a cold front will push north and a warm front will move in. As the warm front moves in and remains stationary it will spark rain/storm chances Tuesday through Thursday. Thursday will be the warmest day of the week with a high in the upper 70s. A cold front moves back in Friday returning highs to the low 50s for the weekend.
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