Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Flood Victims Assail Officials' Credibility Engineers, Dam Break Prompt Outcry

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Flood Victims Assail Officials' Credibility Engineers, Dam Break Prompt Outcry

Article excerpt

Monroe County flood victims, including many who lived in the still-submerged Valmeyer area, voiced their frustration to federal officials at a meeting this week on rebuilding their homes and lives.

Some victims' tempers flared after officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Small Business Administration and the Army Corps of Engineers gave brief advice to about 250 people at the meeting Monday at Columbia High School.

"You were the people who told us, `We've never lost a federally built levee,' and a few days later our town was under water," Bobbie Klinkhardt of Valmeyer shouted at Col. James Craig of the St. Louis District of the Corps of Engineers.

"I feel that if you had told us that this (flooding) was a possibility, some of our people could have gotten flood insurance and got their belongings out in time," Klinkhardt added.

"How can we believe you people?"

Craig responded that the corps had reacted as quickly as it could when the Mississippi River rose rapidly on Aug. 2, when Valmeyer and some other parts of Monroe County were inundated.

But the water came up so fast that day that the corps did not have enough time to breech the levee at another point to relieve the pressure bearing down on Valmeyer, he said.

Craig added that he believed Valmeyer residents had been given enough warning that flooding was a possibility to take some action.

Klinkhardt and her husband, John, also said they were distressed that their 76-year-old home on West Main Street was too old and heavy to be rebuilt under federal flood-plain regulations requiring it to be elevated or not qualify for federal replacement aid.

"How can I build an old house like that on stilts?" Bobbie Klinkhardt said.

The Klinkhardts are staying with relatives while waiting for the last foot of water to recede from their home. They said the house had about 7 feet of water in it at the height of the flooding. …

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