St. Louis floods: More rain expected Wednesday after record rainfall turned roads into rivers and forced residents to flee barefoot homes

As the hours passed, the rain continued to fall and floodwaters inundated the town and surrounding areas, forcing people to flee or wait for rescue teams to find them.

Jessica Perez was woken by her son around 3:30 a.m. to find her basement flooded with several inches of water, she told CNN. Video taken by Perez shows the basement covered in murky water, soaking furniture legs as Christmas decorations and other items float.

The water had receded by 9 a.m., revealing a layer of debris and black mud and leaving everything in the basement in shambles, Perez said. “Never in my life have I experienced something like this,” she said.

Between midnight and 7 a.m. Tuesday, more than 8 inches of rain fell on St. Louis, surpassing the city’s 1915 record of 6.85 inches. Although the downpour subsided on Tuesday afternoon, the region is expected to receive lighter rainfall on Wednesday and Thursday, which could lead to flash flooding in areas that were soaked by Tuesday’s storms, the National Weather said. Service.

Flooding killed at least one person on Tuesday. The man’s body was found in a vehicle that had been submerged in more than 8 feet of water, city fire chief Dennis Jenkerson said. Police were called to the low area by a concerned resident and found the body when the water receded, he said.

Rescuers fanned out across the region to help stranded residents stuck in the flooding. Firefighters responded to about 18 homes where people were trapped, saving six people and six dogs, the department said. About 15 people chose to shelter in place.

A state of emergency was declared for the area by St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, allowing the state to apply for federal relief funding, Page said in a tweet. Shelters for displaced residents have been set up across the region.
Among those taking shelter on Tuesday was a family from the suburbs of University City, who told the CNN affiliate that KSDK water was pouring into their home so quickly that they had to flee barefoot, leaving behind them medicines, walkers and canes. But the items they will mourn the most, they said, are their irreplaceable sentimental possessions, like photos of family members who are no longer living.

Highways turned into rivers

Floods that inundated homes also turned roads into rushing rivers, forcing multiple street closures as vehicles were submerged up to windows and drivers were stranded throughout the city, waiting for rescuers on boats.

At some point Tuesday, all four Interstate Highways heading into downtown St. Louis — I-70, I-64, I-55 and I-44 — experienced at least one closure due to flooding, KMOV reported.

A stretch of I-70 in the St. Louis area — where vehicles have been seen stuck in water — was closed in both directions early in the morning and motorists were told to avoid the freeway.

A car is submerged in floodwaters after St. Louis received record rainfall on Tuesday.

“You can see there are cars floating up there,” driver Jerome Smith said in a video he took while stuck on I-70 for three hours.

As of Tuesday afternoon, highways were mostly clear and all bridges over the Peres River were open, said Heather Taylor, director of public safety for St. Louis. “As we hope the worst is behind us, we want to keep the public informed,” Taylor added.

It wasn’t just drivers who experienced hour-long delays on Tuesday. Portions of the St. Louis-area MetroLink commuter rail system have been flooded, with potential damage to equipment threatening shutdowns for more than two weeks, according to the city’s transit agency. services are restored.
Water covers much of MetroLink's Forest Park-DeBaliviere station in St. Louis on Tuesday morning.

Footage showed water rushing through the Forest Park-DeBaliviere Metrolink station. “It’s currently a river…I haven’t seen this in the four years I’ve lived here,” said Tony Nipert, who lives near the train station.

Severe flooding that submerged the region also severely damaged electrical equipment, with thousands of power outages reported across St. Louis County. By afternoon, power had been restored to nearly 20,000 customers, according to the electric utility Americans.
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Such intense rainfall in the St. Louis area only occurs once every 500 years, on average, according to NWS data.

The climate crisis is amplifying rainfall around the world, with rising temperatures making record downpours more likely as more moisture is stored in the atmosphere, experts say. Scientists are increasingly confident in the role the climate crisis plays in extreme weather events.

According to a report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, large one-day rainfall dumps that occurred once a decade (between 1850 and 1900) are expected to become more common.

CNN’s Amy Simonson, Amy Roberts, Sharif Paget, Sara Smart, Melissa Alonso, Jason Hanna and Caroll Alvarado contributed to this report.

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