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St. Louis residents asked officials to address flooding. Then came a huge storm

Farrah Anderson
St. Louis Public Radio
Ellendale resident Edward Turnbull speaks to state Rep. Donna Baringer at Francis R. Slay Park in the West St. Louis neighborhood. Turnbull, whose home was flooded with sewer water this week, said officials need to permanently fix the neighborhood's perpetual flooding.

Jeff and Debbie Boshans moved to Ellendale, a West St. Louis neighborhood, more than 20 years ago.

Since then, their house has been flooded over and over again.

“Our children basically had to grow up not knowing if their house was gonna flood,” Jeff Boshans said. “But I would say this is the worst of the worst of the worst.”

At Francis R. Slay Park on Wednesday, the Boshanses joined dozens of Ellendale residents who urged local and state officials to work toward a permanent solution for their neighborhood’s flooding. They said that after many people already lost their homes and valuables to this week’s flooding, officials need to take action.

Residents say Metropolitan Sewer District officials had assured them previously that the district had fixed Ellendale’s flooding problems.

“This is our third or fourth rebuild of different spaces,” Boshans said. “Each time we were promised that they fixed the problem.”

 Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe gestures to Missouri State Senator Karla May
Farrah Anderson
St. Louis Public Radio
Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe gestures to state Sen. Karla May outside Francis R. Slay Park in Ellendale on Wednesday, showing how much water was flooding residents' homes during this week's heavy rains.

Mayor Tishaura Jones said she’s seen Ellendale residents speaking about this issue at neighborhood meetings for years. The mayor said she’s committed to protecting the area from flooding.

“It was on my radar,” Jones said. “So it will continue to be top of mind for me to work with MSD to work with our state and federal partners on how we can fix River Des Peres once and for all.”

St. Louis’ historic rainfall this week combined with the recent drought worsened the neighborhood’s existing problems, Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe said.

“Historic rainfalls are hard for many communities to deal with, especially when we live in a state that was also under a drought disaster,” Kehoe said. “Obviously the ground was very dry, and it created additional runoff.”

The Ellendale neighborhood is surrounded by concrete, which officials say exacerbated the flooding because the water had nowhere to go.

State Rep. Donna Baringer, who spoke at the park, said she’ll introduce legislation that would give tax credits to nearby corporations and business owners who pull up concrete to allow rainwater to seep underground.

Residents want to see a permanent solution to the flooding. This could start, one resident said, with an Army Corps of Engineers study of the area. U.S. Rep. Cori Bush said she would see if the Corps of Engineers could address the area’s problems and also relay the residents’ concerns to the sewer district.

Ellendale resident Edward Turnbull, who now has a ruined Harley-Davidson motorcycle and a flooded home, said a permanent solution couldn’t come soon enough.

“I think I'm a pretty strong person,” Turnbull said. “But you just lose it at the end.”

Farrah Anderson is the newsroom intern at St. Louis Public Radio. Follow her on Twitter: @farrahsoa

Farrah Anderson is a rising junior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she is studying journalism. She joins the St. Louis Public Radio as a newsroom intern for Summer '22.

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