Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Great Fenton Flood of 2008

Last week, we visited my brother and his family in Fenton, Missouri, which lies to the southwest of St. Louis. You may have seen stories in the news about the flooding in the St. Louis area; Fenton was one of the hard hit places.

As we drove in on Thursday evening, we knew something was wrong when it took us nearly two hours to travel the last 8 miles to my brother's house because so many roads were flooded out or reduced to one lane. When we passed one normally expansive and green park that was home to several now-submerged baseball fields, water had made it about halfway up the full-size chain-link backstops. When we drove by the next day, about two inches of metal backstop was all that now peaked out over the gray water surface; the level had risen another six or eight feet in less than 24 hours...

One of the things that impressed me was the utter patience of the water as it rose. This was not a fire and brimstone type of disaster with explosions, or a dramatic crash, but rather a slow and inexorable rise that was almost peaceful and calming as you stood near it. Yes, when you made it to the heart of the river, rather than the massive spill over areas, the water could be moving pretty darn fast, but all in all, the flood took its own time and moved at its own pace, as it pleased, and there wasn't much you could do about it but sandbag a little, drink a beer with your neighbors and watch, just stand around and watch, which is what tons of people were doing...

Here are a bunch of photos I took of the craziness (click any photo to enlarge):

Uhhhh... that road used to continue on through what, in this photo, is all water. The river usually starts way out there in the distance, just beyond that thicket straight out from where the sidewalk ends...

Whole streets were completely flooded...

You can see the difference a day made in the below photos; note the water line on the buildings is higher in the third photo, which was taken the day after the first two shots:

You can see the point of the pavilion across the water there... in what is usually a PARK!

As with most disasters, the community pulled together to help out those most threatened by the rising water:

But, you can see in these photos, that by the very next day the water had risen so high it engulfed the area where the people were sandbagging in the previous photos. Yet, the reports we heard said that the sandbag wall held and the few little buildings there were spared the worst of the flood!

In the next three shots, you can really see how far the water had risen in one day. The first two are taken on Friday, the third on Saturday...

This neighborhood, which was up against a park, NOT the river, was threatened, as well...

Normally, we'd be looking out at a golf course, or an open park, or something. The river's edge doesn't usually start until way in the distance...

This poor little stretch of houses along the bank at Old Fenton really took on a lot of water...

This one is a self-portrait of me and my brother...


  1. Great shots of a tragic scene.

  2. Thanks. It was really shocking, but it was also heartening to see so many folks pulling together to help out in a time of crisis...

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