Street. Residents of Louise who rushed from the flood wonder how they will recover

Hazelwood — Camilla Cage was woken by the sound of her phone ringing on her nightstand early Tuesday, her glare piercing the darkness as a severe weather warning flashed on the screen.

“I just thought it was normal,” said the 31-year-old. “You know, a normal severe thunderstorm warning. I didn’t think it would be that bad.”

Cage slipped out of bed at about 5:30 a.m. after thinking she might be late for work when she felt a gusty gurgling, heard water rushing behind her bed and dampness under her feet.

When she went down to the living room of her apartment, the sound of running water rose, and soon she saw the water flooding her apartment.

“I just shout on the spot – ‘No, my car! “–Then I looked out the bedroom window and yes the cars were completely covered,” said Cage. Then she noticed that water was starting to seep through her apartment – the bathroom, her bedroom, her daughter’s bedroom, the dining room and the living room.

Cage quickly put her contacts in it. Then she rushed outside, knocked on her neighbors’ doors and tried not to look back.

Historic rain

Thunderstorms caused more rain to fall on the St. Lewis District Tuesday has more than ever been recorded in a single day. In just six hours, St. Lewis got more than normal precipitation for July and August combined.

First responders later described a chaotic morning that responded to more than 70 requests for help from people stranded in their cars and homes. The floodwaters covered major roads, swept over Interstate 70 and damaged countless homes. At least one person died in a submerged car near Schenker Street and Enright Street.

The Hazelwood and Spanish Lake Fire Departments and the Missouri Conservation Department have rescued hundreds of residents from the preserve at Winding Creek Apartments in Hazelwood after severe flooding.


Brian Munoz


Street. Louis Public Radio

Gary Olson, left, and Shawn Boyle, both of the Spanish Lake Fire Department, rescue Victoria Adams, 25, and her 9-month-old daughter, Amy Scott, from severe flooding that swept through the reserve at the Winding Creek apartment complex on Tuesday in Hazelwood.

Coldwater Creek runs behind the pool, and Dave Hermann, Hazelwood’s chief fire officer, said that if it rains a lot in a short period of time, it’s not unusual for the creek to overflow. But on Tuesday, the creek broke its bounds with more water than a typical storm. “I’ve never seen it this bad before,” he said.

Missouri first lieutenant. Government. Mike Kehoe, St. Louis Major Techora Jones and St. Lewis County Executive Sam Page declared states of emergency to allow those affected by storms to qualify for government aid.

United States delegate. Corey Busch, de Saint. Lewis County, called Missouri. Mike Parson is formally asking the Biden administration to declare a state of emergency in the region so that Missouri residents can also qualify for federal aid.

Doomed homes

Nearly 50 people lost their homes at the Richmond Heights Community Center emergency shelter Tuesday night.

“It’s something we don’t want to talk about because it hurts us all,” said 66-year-old Em Valley, who ran out of her college town apartment on Tuesday. We need help, and some of us are now homeless. We have nowhere to stay – we lost everything again.”

Sharon Watson, director of regional communications for the American Red Cross in Missouri and Arkansas, said the nonprofit will help residents with shelter, food, clothing and other needs.

“A flash flood like this, this is very unusual — very fast, certainly something that I think surprised a lot of people, and unfortunate,” Watson said, adding that the Richmond Heights Community Center was turning into a night shelter.


Brian Munoz


Street. Louis Public Radio

Darnes Harrison, 35, climbs out of a boat after being rescued by first responders Tuesday outside the reserve at the Winding Creek apartment complex in Hazelwood.

Unprecedented floods overwhelmed residents and city officials alike. It took about five hours for rescuers to reach her by boat, Cage said. First responders worked for nearly 12 hours to rescue hundreds of trapped residents.

John Wagner, University City’s director of planning and development, walked into the overcrowded emergency shelter to tell some residents that they could not return to their buildings because they had been convicted.

When Cage heard the announcement, she said she didn’t know if her apartment would ever be indicted. I asked a friend to call the pool management to ask why the property manager waited until 4am to email residents and ask them to move their cars – the only official notification of flooding.


Brian Munoz


Street. Louis Public Radio

Camilla Cage, 31, of Hazelwood, shows an email she received from a property manager at The Reserve in Winding Creek earlier Tuesday morning at an emergency shelter at Richmond Heights Community Center. Cage is one of hundreds around the area whose home was destroyed in a historic flood.

She expects to condemn the first-floor apartments in the complex because the local housing authority has asked everyone to leave. “At this point, mold and mildew and all these kinds of things will start to appear, so I [asking] What will happen to us? ” She said.

Soon after rushing out of the building, Cage ran back to her apartment to salvage more of her belongings but “couldn’t think properly” as water rose through her knees and toward her waist. But, one thing was clear on her mind – Heaven’s upcoming fifth birthday.

“I know I needed something,” she said, “but I couldn’t think properly, so I put some of her birthday decorations a little higher.” “I’m like ‘Okay, that’s all I can think of because my child’s birthday is important to me.'”

Haven said she hopes to celebrate her fifth birthday, but Cage said she didn’t know if that would be possible after reviewing her tenant’s insurance policy and realizing it did not include flood insurance.

“I know one thing for sure, we are not going back because the flood destroyed everything and damaged the entire apartment,” she said. “I need to go back to see exactly what I can save.”


Brian Munoz


Street. Louis Public Radio

Heaven Rose, 4, looks at her mother, Camilla Cage, 31, both of Hazelwood, on Tuesday at an emergency shelter at Richmond Heights Community Center.


Cage said the lived experience brought her neighbors and those in the area closer in their time of need.

“We all try to be supportive of each other,” she said. “They were so kind to us. We were all just talking, you know as a community, and it was really my first time getting to know my neighbors.”

Cage said volunteers provided clothes, food, and toiletries. Late on Tuesday, she and her daughter went to stay with a family member.
Cage and others who have been to the shelter want to know why their apartments have been flooded and hope that no one else will have the horrific experience.

“I never thought this would be a possibility that would be this bad,” Cage said of the floods. “I’d like to get answers as to why this happened, all of us.”


Brian Munoz


Street. Louis Public Radio

Danielle Brown, 34, a worker with the Ellisville-based nonprofit “Helping Hand-Me-Downs,” talks to Camilla Cage, 31, of Hazelwood on Tuesday at Richmond Heights Community Center.

Street. Lewis-area residents who need shelter or assistance after a flood can call the American Red Cross at 1-800-733-2767.

Street. Kate Gromke of Lewis Public Radio contributed to this report.

Brian Munoz is a photojournalist and multimedia reporter in St. Lewis Public Radio. You can reach him via email at and follow his work on Instagram and Twitter at Tweet embed.

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