Little damage in city from River des Peres’ cresting

ST. LOUIS – Along the River des Peres on Sunday, floodwater came up almost as high as it could go without spilling out of the channel. On the north side of the river, just below the Interstate 55 bridge, a trickle made its way past sand bags onto Germania Street.

Whatever happened elsewhere, there was little indication that  flooding had damaged homes or buildings around the River des Peres in the city.

“We’re bending, but not breaking,” 12th Ward Alderman Larry Arnowitz said. He said he didn’t know of any place in his ward where homes were flooded. His ward covers both sides of the River des Peres all the way north to Willmore Park.

“A couple of places got a little bit of water in their basement,” he noted.

Some side streets east of South Broadway in the city were closed, but Broadway was open all the way to the bridge over the River des Peres, which was flooded. Apparently, no homes were damaged by the flooding.

Fred Hessel, executive director of the Carondelet Community Betterment Federation, agreed with Arnowitz that many basements were getting water in them, but Hessel also didn’t know of any instances of flooding.

The Mississippi River level at St. Louis crested at 45.93 feet on Saturday night and was at 45.7 feet Sunday night. The National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service predicted the level would decline to 40 feet on Sunday, the level considered a major flood. It’s projected to go below 35 feet on June 20.

The water reached the second-highest level of any flood since Aug. 1, 1993, when the river crested at 49.58 feet.

“The crews are down and have been shoring up a couple of spots,” Arnowitz said.

The hardest-hit areas were east of I-55, Arnowitz said.

Arnowitz said he didn’t have any complaints about how city crews responded. He said he drove regularly along the streets on either side of the River des Peres to see if it was all right.

Area resident Larry Woodson has lived for five years in an apartment complex on Germania east of I-55. The complex is well below the top of the River des Peres channel at that point, but Woodson wasn’t worried.

On Sunday, Woodson interrupted a walk near the river to sit on a bench with a clear view of the high water.

“I usually walk this path anyway,” said Woodson, who is a health care provider.

Ted Dorenkamp, a laborer for the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, was in his pickup truck along the walkway at the top of the channel. He was monitoring a nearby pump to make sure it was working properly. The pumps are used to put water back into the channel that has spilled out.

“We’ve had a couple problems,” Dorenkamp said. MSD had to make sure that an air tank wasn’t losing pressure.

Looking at the high water, Dorenkamp said, “I think it’s crazy. If it gets any higher, I’m going to get off this little bike trail.”

In St. Louis, the  I-55 northbound ramp to River City Boulevard/Carondelet was closed.

The Alabama Avenue bridge also was closed.

Water was almost at street level on the Morgan Ford Road bridge over the River des Peres, but cars kept moving across it.

At many parts of the river’s edge, a scum formed that included various kinds of trash.




Jim Merkel Born and raised in the St. Louis area, Jim Merkel covered communities throughout the area from 1991 to 2013 for the old Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. He is the author of five books about the Gateway City published by Reedy Press. The latest is Growing Up St. Louis: Looking Back Through the Decades. He and his wife, Lorraine, live in the Bevo Mill neighborhood of south St. Louis with Miss Jenny the Cat. For more about Jim, visit

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