Trailer park residents blame owners for flooding

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FRANKLIN COUNTY, MO (KTVI) – Firefighters in Franklin County had to rescue more than a dozen people from a flash flood that inundated a mobile home park near Villa Ridge. But residents say the problems that led to the flooding weren’t just tied to a deluge of rain. The issue, they say, was man-made.

The Sleepy Hollow mobile home park rests along the Pin Oak Creek, just off Highway AT. Tuesday morning, as a storm ripped through the area, the Boles fire chief saw the water rising in the park and quickly called in the department’s swift water rescue team. Soon they were feverishly banging on residents’ doors.

“Everybody, the firefighters were rushing in the house,” resident Cassie Cowin said.

“The dog was freaking out. My baby was screaming. We had to carry him across the water.  There was snakes all over the water. It was horrible.”

A Boles fire captain ended up carrying Cowin’s two week old son through the flood waters to safety.

“I knew we had to get him out,” Capt. Clare Swann said. “I was just watching every step, making sure I wasn’t going to fall. Just carrying the baby.”

Everyone involved says the cause of the flood is a small bridge built over the creek in the past year or so. The bridge connects the current Sleepy Hollow facility to an area being built out to house more mobile homes. The bridge is made of rock and has five pipes at the base to allow water through. Residents say when the creek quickly came up, those pipes jammed full of debris, and all the water headed for their homes. The flood water stayed mostly in space beneath the trailers, but it did damage some cars.

“It flooded in October, too, did the same thing,” resident Jake Hossin said. “It cost me about $750 to my wife’s car.”

The mobile home park is owned by East Central Mobile Homes. A worker at their office confirmed the ownership to FOX 2, and said Ed and Cassie Schmelz are the main operators of the business. We left a message requesting a call back from Mr. or Mrs. Schmelz, but were never contacted.

FOX 2 did speak to Tori Karim, the floodplain administrator for Franklin County. He told us by phone that a floodplain development permit would be required to build a bridge like the one that apparently caused the trouble at Sleepy Hollow. There apparently was never any application to build it.

“Nothing like that ever crossed my desk,” he said.

Residents are furious about the situation, and firefighters are a little bit nervous. They say they’ll be keeping a close eye on the mobile home park in the coming days, with more heavy rain in the forecast.

FOX2 reached out to Ed Schmelz, who us back saying has sold his interest in the Sleepy Hollow mobile home park.

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