Union Underwater Again

Pictured above is an aerial view of the intersection of Highways 47 and 50 in Union, with several area businesses flooded by the Bourbeuse River. The river was expected to crest Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning at 30.1 feet. In December 2015, the flood stage reached 34.21 feet, a record crest for the Bourbeuse River. More flood photos are in this issue and online at emissourian.com. Missourian Aerial Photo/Jeanne Miller Wood.

Things are much different in Franklin County this spring than they were this time last year.

On Sunday, April 30, 2017, the county commission was forced to declare a state of emergency due to rising floodwaters on the Bourbeuse River in the center, and the Meramec River on both ends, of the county.

County Costs

While the rains were still falling, first responders and crews from multiple county departments were on the ground closing roads and evacuating residents.

The flooding last year cost Franklin County $406,045 for overtime, materials and resources.

The county was reimbursed for 75 percent of its costs after it surpassed the $366,000 threshold, leaving a final bill of $100,551 for the flood efforts.

Dumpsters and waste hauling of flood debris came to $84,060 and after reimbursement cost the county only $20,055.

The low cost is remarkable, officials have said, considering it included the removal and demolition of the 130-year-old Bruns Bridge which had been washed away in the flood and came to rest in the Meramec River bottom outside St. Clair.

Overtime for emergency flood response by county emergency management agency staff, sheriff’s deputies and highway department workers totaled $45,382 and after reimbursement was $11,346.

In addition to initial responses, and the Bruns Bridge, several county roads were damaged by the rain, flowing and standing floodwaters as well.

The costs for these repairs were the highest to the county at $276,602.

Mill Hill Road ($67,053) outside St. Clair completely washed out as did Old Highway 100 ($119,145) outside Washington and had to be completely rebuilt.

Repairs to other roads in the eastern district of the county cost $57,923 and $32,479 in the western district.

After reimbursement the road repair costs were $69,494.

The Flood

Rain started falling April 26 with the final reading of consecutive days ending Friday, May 5. The highest daily rainfall was April 30 with 4.48 inches, and total rainfall for that 10-day run was 10.98 inches.

At the worst of the flooding, the Bourbeuse, Meramec and Missouri rivers were at major flood stage. Franklin County’s road arteries were cut off.

At different times, Highways 44, 50, 47, 30 and 185, as well as many local roads, were closed due to flooding.

The Missouri River at Washington, the last to crest, reached its zenith at 31.88 feet Thursday at 12:45 p.m. It was the fifth-highest crest on record, trailing 1993, 1995, 1986 and 1844.

When all was said and done, Franklin County ranked in the top 10 counties in Missouri to suffer damages in the flooding.

In all, about one-third of the 941 total structures in the unincorporated county flood plains were damaged, including 280 nonprimary structures.

An additional 51 primary structures were also affected.

In this case, a nonprimary structure can be anything from a chicken coop to a river cabin or clubhouse. A primary structure is classified as a residence.

Across the county 154 FEMA claims were made and $589,146 was paid out to homeowners.

The highest number of claims was in Pacific, followed by St. Clair, Robertsville and Villa Ridge.

Smaller numbers of claims were filed by residents in Union, Sullivan, New Haven and Lonedell.