Deputies have been working overtime to monitor pockets of Franklin County with limited access due to high water.
Sheriff Steve Pelton said more than 20 square miles of, primarily, southeastern areas of the county were cut off due to road closures from the flooding of the Meramec River.
On Monday, an island formed by the rising floodwaters that stranded about 10,000 residents in the Robertsville, Catawissa and Lonedell areas.
Pelton explained that a deputy had been posted at the St. Clair Fire Protection District house in Lonedell and the Pacific Fire District house in Robertsville.
“With Highway O and Highway 30 closed they are landlocked from us,” Pelton said Monday. “We are working with local fire, EMS to ensure we provide services to citizens.”
Highway 30 opened Tuesday morning.
“That is going to free up our resources,” Pelton told The Missourian Tuesday morning.
According to the sheriff’s department, no one could get in or out of that area until the waters went down, which may put a strain on emergency responders.
Pelton said he worked with the county’s emergency management agency (EMA) and Director Abe Cook, to develop contingency plans.
He explained that in the event of a medical emergency, first responders would have helicopters to transport patients to hospitals, or boats to take them to ambulances with road access to a hospital.
“In cooperation with other first responders and the EMA, we were prepared to deal with this and provide services to the people of Franklin County,” Pelton said.
“We are prepared to stay in those areas until the water subsides,” he said Monday.
Resources in other areas became limited Tuesday when more roadways, including Highway 50 and Highway 47 in Union, were closed.
With the closure of Highway 50 at the Bourbeuse River Bridge, and the highway at Birch Creek, there is limited access to Mercy Hospital Washington.
According to Pelton, deputies are assisting Pacific police with law enforcement.
Requests for National Guard troops for the Pacific area were denied and the Missouri Highway Patrol will only provide extra troopers on a limited basis.
Pelton said motorist should head the warnings from the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) about driving into floodwaters.
“If the water is over the roadway it compromises the integrity of the structure,” he said. “The road could give way and cause a needless death.”
There are more than 70 roads closed due to flooding, Pelton said.
County Highway Administrator Ron Williams asked all county residents to adhere to road closure signs for their own safety. “We will be opening roads as soon as we can, especially in the western part of the county,” Williams said. “We are not going to take the signs down until we know the roads are safe to travel. Until then, we ask the public to stay off the roads.”
Williams added Mill Hill Road and bridge will be closed indefinitely after the Bruns Bridge was washed into it Monday.
After the floodwaters recede, the remains of the Bruns Bridge will have to be located and the existing bridge must be inspected for damage. Second District Commissioner Dave Hinson, said with the high waters extending into the weekend, residents and first responders will begin to really feel the tolls.
“People have had to go through a lot in the past few days,” Hinson said. “With this extending into Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we need to keep everyone in our prayers. Everyone you talk to say they have never seen the floods this high before.”
Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer said the flooding is a sad thing to see.
“It’s unimaginable to have to go through this one, but twice in 16 months,” he said. “Our hearts go out to everyone affected by these floods.”