2019 Flood Fight in Howard Bend Levee District

June 24, 2019

We are now in Chapter 5 of the 2019 Flood Fight in Howard Bend Levee District (HBLD).  After the flood gates were opened on Monday, June 17, water was very slowly flowing out of the Creve Coeur Lake system, into the river.  The lake level remained very high however, allowing water to continue to flow through the railroad ballast on the north/northwest side of the lake, as it had been doing for over two weeks.  This flow, along with continued seep water, had been slowly filling up the Creve Coeur Airport Subdistrict area, and spreading to the south into the Little Lake area.  As the area filled up with water spilling from Creve Coeur Lake, it began to creep up onto Highway 141 at the intersection with Sportport Road. Eventually, that caused the closing of 141 in both directions, by Wednesday, June 19, 2019.

On Wednesday morning, myself, HBLD Maintenance Superintendent Guy Litzinger, Jim Carver: HBLD board member and Economic Development Manager for Maryland Heights, and Rick Schneider with MODOT Maintenance, met to discuss a plan to re-open Highway 141.  During this meeting, I took Rick Schneider to the area north of Creve Coeur Lake, and we observed water continuing to flow from Creve Coeur Lake,  through the railroad ballast, into the Creve Coeur Airport subdistrict area.  At approximately 10:00 am that morning, with input from the City of Maryland Heights Mayor Mike Moeller, the decision was made to build temporary berms with rock on each side of 141 on the shoulders, and pump the water off of the highway, so it could be re-opened.  HBLD, with assistance from the City of Maryland Heights, worked to build the berms and begin pumping water.  This effort was successful so that one lane in each direction on 141 was able to be re-opened on Thursday, June 20, 2019. 

 

During the construction of the temporary berms on Wednesday, June 19th, several media outlets were on site, taking pictures, videos, and conducting interviews.  An article appeared later that day in STLToday about the closure of 141 and the efforts to re-open it.  This article inferred that the action of opening the flood gates, by the Howard Bend Levee District, caused the closure of 141.  This is ABSOLUTELY incorrect, as evacuating water by opening the flood gates at the river, to allow water to flow out of the area, did not cause 141 to flood.  I am contacting the STLToday reporter who wrote this article to correct this information.


Additional actions in the ongoing flood fight include the decision to add two more 12" skid mounted pumps on Wednesday, on Discharge Creek just north of 141 to pump water into the creek system until the river drops more, allowing the gravity drains to work.  On Thursday, the two tractor driven pumps at the flood gates were shut down, and moved  to help pump interior water into the creek system as well, near the Boggs site, and the Louiselle Creek tideflex site.  

After additional heavy rainfall events both locally and upstream on the river on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the river began to rise again.  As such, the flood gates at the river had to be closed Sunday morning at 5:30 a.m. for the fifth time (hence Chapter 5) since the end of March.  At this point, it appears from the predictions that the gates may be re-opened around the June 30 time frame.  We are managing the pumps on hand to evacuate water, both into the river, as well as into the creek system, while monitoring the river and creek/lake levels, as well as forecasted rainfall.

As mentioned in an earlier update, this is a very prolonged high river event.  Frustrations are high and tempers are short.  We appreciate any and all support to help get through this.

Sincerely,

Warren Stemme
President HBLD