Residents take stock along the Meramec | St. Louis Public Radio

Residents take stock along the Meramec

Jan 1, 2016

Floodwaters are continuing to recede along the Meramec River, and emergency workers are taking stock of the damage. According to early estimates, as many as 1,000 structures had water damage in St. Louis County over the past few days. Personnel from the Department of Public Works, however, cautioned that the number will likely change.  

In downtown Eureka, volunteers and residents helped clean up homes and businesses on New Year’s Day, as Dumpsters lined the main street.

“I’ve got a boiler in the basement that was underwater for a couple of days,” said Mark Antonacci, an attorney and author whose law firm took on water up to the first floor. “I’ve got 30 years’ worth of notes and materials that are paper products, conference proceedings, that I’ve got to throw out.”

What matters, Antonacci said, is that everyone got out safely. "This 150-year-old town is no stranger to floods and will bounce back quickly.  

"This set us back a month, a few weeks, something like that. Joe Boccardi’s been on that corner since the ’60s,” Antonacci said.

Friends and family helped clean up Mark Antonacci's Law Office in downtown Eureka on new Year's Day. The office took on about a foot of water on the first floor, and the basement flooded completely.
Credit Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Among the communities along the Meramec River, Eureka was particularly hard hit in this record-breaking flood: 72 homes, 39 businesses, and 12 city facilities were damaged, said Mayor Kevin Coffey.

“We were prepared for a record flood — the levels of ’82. But we went more than three feet over 1982,” Coffey said.

In a 24-hour period, the flood forecasts got higher and higher, and Coffey realized Eureka would take a hit—and put out a call for sand bags.

“In that amount of time we got 22,000 bags filled. And we got them stacked up in front of businesses. In a lot of spots it overcame those bags, because the flood was just too large,” Coffey said. “In over 150 years as a town, we had never seen anything even close to this.” 

A carport next to Jeff Steinke's home, as seen from a kayak.
Credit Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

In a cluster of homes next to the river, Jeff Steinke used a kayak to get into his tall, brick house on Friday. It’s built to take on high waters, and family members were able to move most of the furniture to higher ground. But he said cleaning up the basement and main level, which still had some water on Friday afternoon, will take a couple months.  

Mark Steinke stands outside his home. On Friday, the driveway was still underwater.
Credit Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

“Its life on the river. It’s great when it’s not flooding. And it’s mostly not flooding, so it’s a trade-off,” Steinke said. “Really, just stay away while people are cleaning up. It’s not a sideshow, it’s nothing to come down and see.”

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