East St. Louis flood victims can find help through the city, Lowe's
Editor's note: This story was originally published in the Belleville News-Democrat.
East St. Louis will partner with Lowe’s to distribute flooding relief kits for residents trying to recover from historic flooding that hit the region last month. The announcement was made during a press conference at city hall on Wednesday afternoon.
The kits will include cleaning supplies, flashlights, air conditioning units and more. Supplies can be picked up at city hall, located at 301 Riverpark Drive, starting August 12 at 10:30 a.m.
Lowe’s will also donate additional products beyond Friday’s event.
“Nothing is more important right now than to have community output and understand what the community needs and being able to respond with community,” Mayor Robert Eastern III said.
Wednesday’s briefing was the city’s second press conference since heavy rainfall last month caused severe flash flooding. In July, up to 12 inches of rain hit the St. Louis metropolitan area, including the metro-east.
Families living along Terrace Drive and Mary Avenue in East St. Louis were the most impacted by flooding in the city. Residents in the neighborhood demanded assistance as water hadn’t receded for nearly four days.
Mayor Eastern announced a state of emergency for the city on Tuesday, July 26, when flooding began. With the help of the American Red Cross, the city opened a temporary shelter for displaced residents at Mason-Clark Middle School later that week. Eastern said on Wednesday that the shelter has been deactivated as water in the area has receded. He said residents who were still at the shelter were placed in temporary housing.
On Aug. 1, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a disaster declaration for St. Clair County and Washington County, which allowed East St. Louis residents to gain information for recovering from the flood through the multi-agency resource center (MARC). The center was housed at East St. Louis Senior High School last weekend and served nearly 500 families in the area.
Beth Elders, executive director of American Red Cross Greater St. Louis, said residents still in need of emergency shelter and assistance can visit the agency’s shelter at St. Vincent Community Center, at 7335 St Charles Rock Rd. in St. Louis.
Red Cross will operate the final day of a multi-agency resource center at Friendly Temple, 5515 Dr Martin Luther King Dr in St. Louis, on Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Elders said services at those locations are available for both Illinois and Missouri residents.
‘Everything is just lost’
The state is also offering a virtual multi-agency resource center for residents.
“The city has been hard at work in response to the needs of our community and we’ve been diligent at our task,” Eastern said.
Sharon Franklin, who resides on Terrace Drive, is currently staying in Baymont by Wyndham Hotel in O’Fallon, which was provided through assistance she received at the multi-agency resource center last weekend. But she’s trying to find a permanent place to stay because of the her home’s flooding damages.
“It has mold, water damage, and I didn’t know that a tree fell in the backyard and took out the whole porch and back end of my home,” Franklin said. “Then, the mold — you smell it when you walk in. Everything is just lost.”
Denise Smith, another Terrace Drive resident, said her job put her in a nearby hotel. She said she thinks she developed a cold from cleaning her mold-infested home.
“Even being in that home trying to clear some stuff out that I’ll be able to save, it’s not possible because of all the mold,” she said.
Eastern said that with the help of community partnerships, like the one with Lowe’s, residents should be able to safely clean their homes as they recover from flooding.
Community Lifeline, located at 1764 State St. in East St. Louis, is accepting donations for toiletries, food and clothing. Donations can be dropped off at the nonprofit’s family resource center at 1468 State St. during the week.
On weekends, donations can be dropped off at New Life Community Church at 1919 State St. Students of East St. Louis School District 189 (the fall semester starts Aug. 15) who’ve been impacted by the flooding can contact the district’s Wraparound Wellness Center at 618-646-3333.
The city also shared a Google form for residents who’ve been affected by the flood. Residents in need of assistance are encouraged to call United Way of Greater St. Louis at 2-1-1, Urban League at 618-274-1150, and Community Lifeline at (618) 482-2950.
DeAsia Paige is a reporter with the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.