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Outlet mall to open on 20th anniversary of Chesterfield Valley floods

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CHESTERFIELD, MO (KTVI) - Twenty years ago flood waters from the Missouri river would have flooded the Chesterfield Commons Shopping Center. At the time the Monarch levee was designed to primarily protect farm land. It began to fail well after nightfall on July 30th.

Dawn confirmed the worst fears, flood waters had taken over what we now call Chesterfield Valley. Only the roof tops of 250 businesses could be seen. The Spirit Of St. Louis Airport vanished beneath the muddy Missouri.

"We stayed until the morning to try to pump the water out but when it came it came so quickly we were here. We were up on the roof." said owner Annie Gunn's Thom Sehnert.

With help from his friends Sehnert rebuilt and now serves 3,000-5,000 guests a week while 10,000 customers stop by the Smoke House store.

Chesterfield valley is a natural flood plain and some question the logic of building a bigger and better levee but others say it had to be done if for no other reason than to protect I-64.

In two decades the valley has exploded with retail and restaurant construction. Two giant outlet malls will open next month. In the back of everyone's mind is the thought that the river could reclaim the flood plain.

Several people had to be rescued by helicopter or boat from roof tops after spending the night watching flood waters slowly rise.

Fortunately prisoners from a county jail here in the valley were evacuated several days before the levee failed.