ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – The Emergency Operations team opened its center on Wednesday under a partial Level 2 activation. This was in anticipation of heavy flooding that was expected to affect certain areas of the St. Louis region.
It was one last dog walk in the neighborhood before Joan Purk and others in the Highland Village Community hunkered down. Heavy rains are expected, and a level 2 emergency activation is in place.
“Our last Level 2 activation was COVID,” said Ann Vastmans, emergency management specialist and PIO for the agency.
If this were one more level up, we would deal with conditions like Hurricane Katrina or Tornado Joplin.
The last serious flood came under the same circumstances. Community members reported receiving flash flood warnings late into the night.
“A lot of people are asleep; they may not be aware of what is going on in their neighborhood,” Vastmans said.
A difficult sight to wake up to, as the National Weather Service informed Vastmans, this rain event or its effects could still be present by Thursday morning.
“It really depends on the rain, and where the heavy rain falls, it also depends on how saturated the ground is,” Vastmans said.
During the second day of rain, flood conditions can worsen. The Emergency Operations team, which includes various county departments such as the Department of Transportation, EMS, and law enforcement, recommends staying indoors as the safest option.
MoDOT said they have been preparing as well, by cleaning drains and prepping roadways in any way they can. Vastmans urged drivers to avoid roadways Wednesday night. She said it’s the late-night conditions that make it hard to see how bad flooding could potentially be on the roads.
“If they do not, they have the potential to get seriously injured or die,” Vastmans said.
A warning to turn around and not drown…but for others, occupying portions of Clarington Court and the St. Louis County communities:
“Be prepared to leave, quickly,” Purk said. “We are on the other side of the floodgate, which protects the schools, so when the water rises, if it gets bad enough, it backs up.”
Vastmans and other locals are urging people to stay aware of the weather as there is a risk of flooding in other neighborhoods. It is important to take this warning seriously to avoid any potential dangers.
“We’re efficient without warning time, and we’re efficient with our response,” she said.
Vastmans stated that they are dedicated to the community.
“We look at our community as our family, so for us, it’s personal,” she said.
The officials at the operation center are recommending that residents not use the emergency number 911 unless it is a life-threatening situation. Instead, they can use the regular line (636) 529-8210, which is currently the primary mode of communication.
The agency said the best way to keep up with weather alerts is through their Twitter page or socials.