At least one person was killed when historic rain of more than 8 inches fell on St. Louis.
Thunderstorms in Missouri developed overnight Monday through Tuesday morning, leading to widespread flash flooding that left St. Louis motorists stranded and residents fleeing their homes.
Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson said one person had died after being pulled from a submerged vehicle. The person's identity was withheld until family members could be notified, he said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
About 70 people had to be rescued or assisted as rain drenched the city, Jenkerson said.
"We’ve had a tremendous amount of cars that have been door-deep and also roof-deep in some of these low-lying areas," he said.
The water has started to recede in some areas, Jenkerson said. Firefighters are assessing the damaged buildings.
"Now we’re seeing the weight of the water cause some issues with buildings. We’re having some partial roof collapse," he said. "Some of the vacant buildings are also suffering from the stress of this water."
George Sample III, 43, who lives with his mother, brother and nephew in a rental home at University City, St. Louis, said their house had suffered the worst damage in their street. They live closest to the creek, which quickly overflew, causing water to enter their home. The basement, which his family uses to keep personal belongings, was submerged in water from floor to ceiling. He estimates that his family might have lost $10,000 in damages.
“The house is all wet but I’m alive, my mom is alive and my brother and nephew are alive,” he said.
The city had recorded 8.06 inches of rainfall by early Tuesday, surpassing the previous daily record of 6.85 inches on Aug. 20, 1915, according to the National Weather Service in St. Louis.
By the afternoon, a total of 9.04 inches was measured, setting a new 24-hour rainfall record, according to the weather service.
At least six people and six dogs were rescued by boat from flooded homes, the fire department said. Firefighters responded to about 18 homes because of substantial flooding. More than a dozen people chose to shelter in place, it tweeted.
Lauren Denny, 50, who rents the house to Sample III’s family said the house had previously flooded in the past, although this year’s damage from the flash floods had been worse. Denny, who has been inspecting the damages to the house with her husband, said the house needs to get their entire floors replaced and their walls inspected to prevent black mould from appearing on their walls.
Denny said flooding in their area, particularly in the street where the rental home is located, is quite common. Denny, who had previously lived in the house before her family moved out, said this had often made her feel nervous when it rains.
“When I lived in the house, I worried every time it rained, I would be out there in the middle of the night with my umbrella watching the creek rise,” she said.
Numerous roads were also closed in metropolitan St. Louis, including parts of Interstate 70. Video showed cars stranded on the flooded interstate and firefighters rescuing drivers from their vehicles.
In nearby Maryland Heights, residents were urged to avoid traveling during the storm.
"Many roadways in our area are flooded and closed. Other roadways are at a standstill due [to] heavy traffic since drivers are trying to figure out alternative routes," Maryland Heights police tweeted.
A state of emergency was declared, allowing state agencies to work directly with local jurisdictions.
"With record rainfall impacting the St. Louis region and the potential for additional rain and isolated thunderstorms, we want to ensure that our communities have every resource available to respond and protect Missourians," Gov. Mike Parson said in a statement.
"We urge Missourians to follow the direction of local authorities and emergency managers, never drive in floodwaters, and always use common sense to prevent injury."