In Pacific, there wasn’t much time to pack | St. Louis Public Radio

In Pacific, there wasn’t much time to pack

Dec 31, 2015

The flooding Meramec River crested early Wednesday in Pacific — inundating houses, half of the historic downtown district and sweeping through a mobile home park. Residents evacuated to hotels, friends’ houses and a Red Cross shelter set up in a senior center. Much of the water remained the morning of New Year's Eve and isn’t expected to recede to normal levels until early Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

In the meantime, residents are left to wait and assess the damage to their homes and livelihoods.

Jodi and Brooklyn Howard

The Howard family left their home without packing up much more than what they needed, because they didn’t expect the water to reach their raised duplex.  

“From what we were told, it wasn’t going to get this high,” said Jodi Howard as she looked out over the train tracks to the floodwaters on the south side of town. “By the time they told us ... we couldn’t go back after that.”

Howard’s daughter, Brooklyn, turned 3 at the temporary shelter set up at a senior center on higher ground. Determined to mark the day appropriately, volunteers and neighbors brought out a cake and presents.

“I think she had a good birthday. Even after all this. I mean, she keeps saying every time we’re at the hotel—‘I wanna go home.’ I’m like, we will. Someday, hopefully,” Howard said.

Halie Watson and Zachary Gumpenberger

Halie Watson, 21, and her partner Zachary Gumpenberger, 25.
Credit Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

A group of mobile homes took a direct hit from the flood in Pacific. Halie Watson and her partner, Zachary Gumpenberger, woke up to see water nearing their neighbor’s trailer. Within an hour, it was up to theirs.

“We lost everything, besides our clothes,” Watson said. “It was all the way up to our windows.”

For the time being, the two are staying with family, and spending the days in a temporary shelter set up by the Red Cross. Watson, who is four months pregnant, said her biggest concern is finding permanent housing as soon as possible.

Jeanette Eanes and Jean Scott 

Jean Scott, left, sits with her sister Jeanette Eanes, right. Diana Bush is standing. All three spent the day at a temporary shelter set up by the Red Cross in Pacific.
Credit Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Longtime Pacific residents, Jean Scott and Jeanette Eanes, hadn’t expected the water to rise so quickly. Early in the morning, Scott answered a knock on her door — and it was a rescue worker with a raft.

“I couldn’t believe how fast it came up. We had three steps and we had our porch. It was already on the third step,” Scott said. “I had a few things packed, not a whole lot. I don’t have my glasses, and I need them bad.”

The twin sisters, who are both 68 years old, have seen plenty of floods in their day. Scott lost her trailer in the flood of 1993 and later moved in with her sister. This one, she said, is particularly frustrating.

“I’m not sure what’s going to happen. Our trailer will probably be condemned, and we’ve got nowhere to go,” Scott said.

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