Cleanup begins in St. Charles County after Dardenne Creek levee breached

dardenne flood
dardenne flood
Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 6:52 PM CDT
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ST. CHARLES COUNTY (KMOV) - After more than a foot of rainfall soaked much of St. Charles County early Tuesday morning, water levels are receding and business owners and homeowners are surveying the damage.

According to the National Weather Service, the Dardenne Creek crested at 23.5 inches on Tuesday, putting it in major flood stage. As of Wednesday, water levels were declining, but not before a portion of the creek’s levee was breached, sending flood water into nearby farm fields.

“The local levees are controlled by levee districts, which consist of people who live near the levee, most often farmers,” said Cpt. Chris Hunt, director of emergency management operations for St. Charles County. “Levees along larger rivers are controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers, but smaller ones are maintained by these districts.”

As a result, members of the creek’s levee district will assess the damage once the water has receded and make necessary improvements.

Cpt. Hunt said the majority of calls first responders handled Tuesday were the result of people driving into flooded roadways.

“It completely exhausted them having to take part in that many water rescues and then it takes away from them responding to additional calls that were coming in,” he said.

St. Charles County’s 911 center was inundated with calls, as were neighboring call centers, so calls were spread around the region and dispatched to St. Charles County area first responders.

Cpt. Hunt said the biggest weakness in the county’s preparedness was the response to backups on Interstate 70 when it shut down after the roadways flooded.

“I think one of the things that we probably need to look at is our weaknesses on 70,” he said. “Rerouting traffic and having a plan to reroute we prevent the backups from happening again. Some of it is unavoidable because the commuters have to get to work and that’s a main thoroughfare.”

In O’Fallon, the Belleau Lake Estate subdivision is surrounded by a lake and creek. Amanda Donaldson said she woke up around 3 a.m. Tuesday to water seeping into her house.

“I heard it trickling in and I found my dog playing in it,” she said. “But after a few minutes it started coming up through the pipes and vents in the house and it got to be three feet high within probably 40 minutes.”

She called 911 and was rescued from her home with her dog.

“I looked outside and it looked like a lake,” she said. “So I knew I couldn’t open the front door without water rushing in.”

Tuesday, she and her friends spent the day ripping out carpeting, subflooring and furniture from the house.

“It’s awful to look at the things you’ve worked towards over the past several years, maybe multiple years, and it just being gone,” she said. “A lot of the clothing that we had is washable and anything we felt like was going to be stained, we tossed. As far as picture frames and electronics...pretty much everything is gone. I do have mounted TVs which I was able to save.”

Donaldson said flooding in 2019 led to several inches of water in her living room, but nothing compares to early Tuesday morning. A neighbor’s backyard shed now sits in their driveway, with cars strewn across yards like toys. She said one neighbor’s camper was taken away in swift waters.

“They’re just things when you think about it, so I’m just grateful no one was hurt and everybody is okay,” she said. “We’ll restore this place. It’s home to my kids, so we’re not going anywhere.”