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Parson requests federal disaster declaration to fix St. Louis flood damage

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Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
A Metro Bus and other vehicles are submerged July 26 on Forest Park Parkway during historic rainfall and flooding in St. Louis. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson asked the federal government Thursday for recovery effort assistance.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Thursday officially asked for federal help to clean up after last week’s flash flooding.

The governor submitted a request for a major disaster declaration for St. Louis and St. Louis, St. Charles and Montgomery counties. If approved, federal assistance would be available for residents whose homes were damaged. Local governments and nonprofits also would be able to seek federal help to repair roads, bridges or other public infrastructure.

"Our state and local teams have been working around the clock to assist Missourians in the St. Louis region and provide resources," Parson said in a statement. "Today, we are requesting a federal major disaster declaration in order to provide further aid to support the region's recovery. We appreciate our SEMA team, first responders, and community partners who continue helping the St. Louis region move forward from this disaster."

Damage assessment officials estimate that at least 750 homes and 131 businesses suffered serious damage in the flooding. FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program has paid more than $785,000 in claims for flooding losses in Missouri last week.

More heavy rains and wind hit the region late Wednesday and early Thursday, even as flood survivors worked to recover from last week’s storms. Hundreds of people lined up at a multi-agency resource center in Florissant on Wednesday afternoon to seek assistance, but the center closed after two hours when weather forecasters warned that more storms and potential flooding were on the way.

More than eight inches of rain was recorded in Fenton, and weather watchers measured 4.32 inches at Lambert International Airport. That broke the previous record rainfall for Aug. 3 of 1.45 inches, set in 1946.

Some motorists in St. Louis County were rescued from cars trapped in water, said Matt Beitscher, a meteorologist with the St. Louis office of the National Weather Service. The most intense rainfall fell in the southeastern part of the state, but recent storms combined for the most rainfall ever recorded in St. Louis during a two-week period.

The storms on Wednesday and Thursday featured “very heavy, very efficient” rainfall, Beitscher said, referring to the amount of rain in a short period.

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Rod Milam
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St. Louis Public Radio
A volunteer, left, offers drinks and snacks Thursday to some of the hundreds of flood survivors waiting in University City for a meeting about flood assistance.

East St. Louis, Cahokia Heights and other Metro East cities hit hard by last week’s flash flooding did not have similar problems Wednesday or Thursday, said Herb Simmons, director of St. Clair County’s Emergency Management Agency.

“We didn’t receive any reports of any flooding like we did last week, which was a blessing because we’re still recovering from last week,” Simmons said.

Relief agencies plan several more pop-up resource centers in coming days for flood survivors in need of assistance, including temporary housing. Affected people can seek help Friday and Saturday at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church at 5515 Dr. Martin Luther King Dr. in St. Louis, and Saturday and Sunday at East St. Louis High School at 4901 State St. in East St. Louis.

The American Red Cross has a shelter open for displaced survivors at the St. Vincent Community Center, 7335 St Charles Rock Road in St. Louis.

There is a great demand among people affected by recent floods for information about immediate aid and longer-term assistance. Fifteen minutes before a meeting about flood relief was due to begin Thursday at Centennial Commons in University City, hundreds of people were already lined up around the block and into the street. Volunteers handed out water and snacks to people waiting in line.

Rachel Lippmann contributed to this report.

Follow Jeremy on Twitter: @jeremydgoodwin

Jeremy is the arts & culture reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.

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