Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sandy Hayes, on the Road

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sandy Hayes, on the Road

Article excerpt

SO YOU THOUGHT you had it bad?

Talk to Sandy Hayes. Think about her the next time you're down in the dumps.

In drier times, Hayes lives in a one-story house near Alabama Avenue and Germania Street in south St. Louis, near the River Des Peres. She's lived in the house 20 years and raised her family there. She remembers the flood of 1973. Water seeped into her basement that year.

She got a whole lot more water this time.

Hayes was among many people who were skeptical when city officials evacuated the neighborhood last month.

"I thought the city didn't know what it was talking about," said Hayes. "The river wasn't that high, I figured, and we've got a levee, so I figured everything was OK."

At the insistence of her children, Hayes moved - dragging her constant companion dog, Pepper, with her. She moved farther south, into her parents' home on Vulcan Street.

That seemed to be a good move. On July 18, the River Des Peres blew open a 15-foot section of sandbags east of Alabama, sending water rushing into neighborhood homes.

Her son, Jeff, who had been near the home at the time, told a reporter that the rush of water began as a rumble in the ground and culminated with sandbags being blown off the levee and water everywhere.

In an interview, Hayes joked that she had told her son "to go and live in sin - to go live with his girlfriend."

Her son's 25 and is getting married in a few months, she added, "So I guess it's OK."

After Hayes moved in with her parents, all was well - for a while.

Her life changed again on July 30. That's when residents of Vulcan and other streets within a half-mile radius of the Phillips Pipeline Co. station at 8722 South Broadway found themselves being evacuated. Floodwater had wrenched 12 tanks of inflammable liquid propane from their moorings, and people living in several dozen homes in south St. Louis and Lemay were forced to leave.

"I couldn't believe it," she remarked.

She and her parents grabbed what they could and moved in with Hayes' uncle in Bayless.

And that would have been it had it not been for a knock on the door of her uncle's home on Aug. 2.

After leaks had developed in the propane tanks, officials ordered 11,800 people - in the city, St. …

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