BALLWIN, MO (KPLR) – With more storms moving into the St. Louis area on Wednesday, crews were scrambling to clear debris, some caused by, some the cause of Tuesday morning flooding. The Ballwin area was among the hardest hit.
MoDOT crews were spotted late Wednesday morning in the Fish Pot Creek, pulling an entire uprooted tree out of the culvert that runs under Manchester Road. It was just one very large piece of the branches and trash that blocked water from passing through, causing it to back up into the road, and adjacent businesses.
“I wish they’d have done it sooner,” Don Kirlin, owner of the Ballwin Auto Center, said. “Seeing that mass of water trying to go through a funnel because of all the debris backed up under that bridge, it just made it devastating. That’s what caused it all.”
For Kirlin, “it” was two feet of water pouring into his business. It was the first time water had gotten into the building since the great flood of 1993. He’s owned the strip mall, which also contains a laundromat, since 2000.
“Never seen it like this, not once, no,” he said of the flood waters.
A MoDOT spokesman says their policy is to inspect culverts like the one under Manchester Rd. “at least once every two years.”
This particular spot was last checked in November, 2013 according to that MoDOT official, well within the two year window. But to Kirlin, it’s just not good enough.
“They might have inspected it but they also told me about eight years ago they’d be out here on an annual basis to clean the debris, the silt and gravel build up that’s going on underneath there, and I haven’t seen them in at least five years,” he said.
There were flooding problems up and down Manchester Rd. in the area. Just up the street, the Ballwin Cycle shop was hit with some water, and also saw a massive coating of mud in the parking lot. Owner Mark Laytham contacted MSD, looking for help with cleanup. He wasn’t satisfied with the answer he received.
“Last night, they came out and said it wasn’t their responsibility because it was due to overland water, of course we wouldn’t have had overland water if they would have maintained their sewers,” Laytham said.
An MSD spokesman differed with that statement, pointing out that crews in fact do regularly check the system and clear blockages. In this instance, he pointed out, the system is only designed to handle so much water at once, and incredibly heavy rain that came Tuesday morning was simply more than it could take.
MSD crews, like so many others, were scrambling to keep up with demand and trying to beat more rain coming in. By 3p.m. Wednesday, they had already responded to nearly 400 calls.