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St. Louisans struggle to regain normalcy in wake of flash floods

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Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
Courtney Daffin, 29, holds her daughter Angelina Sylvester, 4, after being rescued from floodwaters on July 26 outside of the Reserve at Winding Creek apartment complex in Hazelwood.

North St. Louis County resident Courtney Daffin is still reeling from the effects of flash flooding.

“Tuesday of last week, around three or four o'clock in the morning, my life changed,” she told St. Louis on the Air. “I woke up and found out everything I have, basically the little of what I had, was gone.”

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Rod Milam
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Hundreds of people waited in line for more than eight hours Thursday outside University City’s Centennial Commons for access to a Multi-Agency Resource Center event.

Daffin is a single mom who works two jobs and attends St. Louis Community College. She bought a car a couple of weeks ago, but when the water started to rise, she couldn’t find it. Her car was submerged in floodwaters, and she can no longer drive it to work or classes.

“I'm trying to go to school to be a health care provider — dental hygiene and nursing. I can't be going through this kind of stuff,” she said. “We need help.”

Action St. Louis was one of the first organizations to provide aid and resources. Executive Director Kayla Reed said the nonprofit was able to step in more quickly than government agencies because it’s a grassroots organization. However, she added, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson’s request for a major disaster declaration and federal government response should have come much sooner.

“What Parson did yesterday could have been done a week ago, and FEMA could have been on the ground providing direct relief,” she said. “The government should have the capacity to step in and respond to the needs of community during moments like this. … We can't rely on nonprofits and religious organizations to hold that infrastructure while the government takes its time.”

Reed reported that Action St. Louis, ArchCity Defenders, Black Men Build St. Louis and Faith for Justice distributed nearly $100,000 in direct aid since the first floods hit on July 26.

“And that's a drop in the bucket to the actual need of people who have been impacted through this disaster,” she added.

What was lost, and learned, from flash floods in St. Louis

As fast as the devastation occurred, Reed said, “the need is going to be long term.” She recommended that people interested in volunteering their time or resources should seek local organizations that have proven they can quickly meet community needs.
She added that she’s especially grateful to the more than 100 volunteers who have assisted Action St. Louis in the past week.

“We have also dealt with high temperatures, and then very intense rain and people have stayed the course throughout that,” Reed said. “I'm just truly grateful and heartened to see that level of community.”

Related Events: Multi-Agency Resource Centers to assist Missouri flood survivors
When: 3 p.m.-8 p.m. Aug. 5 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 6
Where: Friendly Temple (5515 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130)

When: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Aug. 6
Where: East St. Louis High School (4901 State St., East St. Louis, IL)

When: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Aug. 6
Where: East St. Louis High School (4901 State St., East St. Louis, IL)

When: 12 p.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 7
Where: East St. Louis High School (4901 State St., East St. Louis, IL)

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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