Emergency crews rescued 38 residents by boat Friday afternoon from a Centreville neighborhood that was, in some places, up to four feet underwater.
Boat teams from the St. Clair County Special Emergency Services, the Belleville Fire Department and the Swansea Fire Department rescued the residents for about two hours in the area south of State Street, east of North 59th Street, north of Lake Drive and west of Interstate 255. Camp Jackson and Midway fire crews and Centreville police also assisted at the scene.
Ambulance crews were standing by on scene and checked several neighbors but no one was reported hurt. Because the evacuation was not mandatory, many residents living in the area comprised of about 100 homes chose to stay.
Resident Kendra Smith, 27, took her car to higher ground before wading back to her family before they were rescued. She said the water was up to her belly button. “You can’t get in any way,” she said. “It’s like a lake all through this. We’re in the lake.”
Smith has never seen water rise this far in the neighborhood. She said if she’d known the area could flood the way it did Friday, she’d have never moved there.
Resident Daniel Ellison, 66, said he’d worried all day that the water that was slowly rising would force him out of his home.
His wife, Sherry Ellison, 55, was carried to dry land by a firefighter to join her husband and her small dog Lucy that was carried to safety in a reusable grocery bag. “We’ve been here three and a half years,” she said. “I’ve never seen it like this before. But we’re O.K.”
Joseph Jackson Jr., 55, has been in the neighborhood much longer, calling the area home for 52 years. He hasn’t seen it this bad, either.
“Last year, it was close but not this severe.”
Jackson said he’s noticed floods in the area getting worse over time. Every time there’s been a strong rain for the last 15 years, the neighborhood floods.
“(The city) needs better infrastructure,” he said. “They ought to get these sewers cleaned. They’re clogged up.”
The area was flooded following heavy rains Friday across the region.
A Metro bus was parked near the scene to temporarily shelter residents who elected to leave their homes. Red Cross and Salvation Army teams also arrived to care for families.
There’s no estimated property loss related to the flooding yet, but residents may not loose much. Firefighters at the scene said that while the roads and lawns were buried waist-deep or more, the homes remained largely dry.