Post-Dispatch photographer documents flash flood that turned Webster Groves road into river in minutes


WEBSTER GROVES, Mo. – When the storms rolled in Monday, St. Louis Post-Dispatch staff photographer David Carson was on assignment in the wrong place at the right time.

“I saw the alerts about flash flooding come across on the County’s alert system. I knew this was a low area in Webster Groves that is prone to flooding. So, I kind of came down here to take a look at it.”

What Carson found was a rapidly rising Shady Creek just starting to spill into the parking lot of the Old Community Baptist Church.

“But then more rain came and water just started to pour across the parking lot onto the road,” he said.

The water started to pour into nearby Kirkham Road, which was quickly becoming a river.

“The road went from passible to impassible in about three or four minutes or so,” Carson said. “I mean, it was very quick, the water came up very quick. And then it just overwhelmed the drains.”

He and others who sought refuge on the church’s high ground tried to warn drivers about the worsening conditions, but some didn’t get the message.

“Some people didn’t see us. They were trying to accelerate through and that just pushed more water up into their engines. And they ended up stalling out.”

Read more on Flash Flooding from the National Weather Service

One of those people was Chelsey McLean.

“I could still see that it was under the curb so that I knew that it was probably okay to drive through,” she said. “All of a sudden, a bunch of water came through and lifted me up.”

Carson says as fast as the water went up, it came back down, leaving behind mud, sand, debris, and a few stalled-out cars.

“The best advice is the one people always talk about: turn around don’t drown. Because you don’t want to drive into standing water, let alone moving water. Because it can really carry your car away,” Carson said.

Another spot hit hard by flash flooding was KIPP St. Louis High School. Representative Rasheen Aldridge, Jr. shared photos of flooding at the school during Monday’s storms. High school classes were canceled Tuesday while the school cleaned up. Classes are expected to resume Wednesday.

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