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FEMA officials assess flood damage around St. Louis; Gov. Parson appeals for federal help

Farrah Anderson
St. Louis Public Radio
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson speaks outside the University City Fire Department on Monday. Officials said the historic flooding caused millions of dollars of damage to the St. Louis region.

Gov. Mike Parson said Monday that Missouri’s federal disaster declaration should be submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency by Wednesday.

This comes after he spoke with St. Louis-area legislators and regional emergency management staff members about their assessments of damage to homes and businesses in the region from last week’s historic floods.

Based on the Federal Emergency Management Agency assessments of St. Louis and St. Louis, St. Charles and Montgomery counties, Parson said the region is over the $10 million threshold of flood destruction to public infrastructure. He hopes that amount of damage will get the declaration approved by President Joe Biden soon.

“FEMA is on the ground today, they're doing assessments,” Parson said. “And that is the most important thing right now that we need to get completed to make sure we don't leave anybody out and to make sure we have the total numbers of what we feel like that damage was.”

Once state and federal emergency officials tally up assessment numbers, a disaster declaration request will be submitted to FEMA, which will forward it to the White House. If a disaster is declared, FEMA representatives will then start to meet with residents and business owners to start public claims.

Last Tuesday, St. Louis experienced record-breaking rainfall that caused extreme flooding to homes and businesses largely in north St. Louis County. Two days later, residents were hit with another storm system flooding portions of St. Louis, including the Central West End.

Some areas in the Metro East received more than 12 inches of rain. In St. Louis, the rainfall in just one day was more than the average for July and August, combined.

Parson said that the region has suffered a significant amount of loss from the floods, and that state officials are working quickly to get federal funds to the people who need it the most.

“That should not be a monthly process that should be hopefully within days or weeks,” Parson said. “But, I don't want to give anybody any false hope.”

Regional FEMA officials plan to visit every neighborhood that local emergency managers identified as flood-impacted areas. They visited the Ellendale neighborhood and University City on Monday to document the damage to homes and public infrastructure, including fire stations, buildings and roads.

“Once we receive that, we'll make sure that we act in a very fast way to make sure that we have thoroughly vetted that and get it up to the president,” said Andrea Spillars, FEMA Region 7 administrator.

If a disaster declaration is processed, residents then can apply for the Individual Assistance Program that will provide aid for uninsured losses. A disaster recovery center will be established for residents to discuss damages with officials.

While regional and state emergency management officials assess the flood devastation, they encourage residents to reach out to local agencies and city and county departments to receive immediate aid.

“It's about picking up the pieces now, and it's about us making sure we have all the tools we can to help people get back on their feet,” Parson said.

Follow Andrea on Twitter: @drebjournalist

Andrea covers race, identity & culture at St. Louis Public Radio.