Levee Questions Surface as Flood Waters Receed

VALLEY PARK, MO (KMOX) – The highways have reopened after last week’s flooding along the Meramec River, but questions remain about whether the higher levee at Valley Park may be to blame for some of the flooding last week.

Bob Criss is a professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University specializing in floods. He says the 2008 building of the Valley Park levee is one of several man-made causes of worse flooding on the Meramec.

“I don’t think it should have been built the way it was. It’s higher than they said they were going to build it, and I think we try to build these structures too big and it just causes problems for others,” he says.

Criss also says the big landfill near 141 and 44 is contributing to flooding, along with flood plain fill elsewhere in Valley Park and in parts of northern Fenton.

Valley Park Mayor Mike Pinnnise didn’t want to talk about whether his levee might be too high.

“My concern is the residents and keeping their homes dry,” he says.

Meanwhile, down river, the town of Arnold is talking about whether some of the misery they suffered this past week is because of the Valley Park levee.

“It sure seems like these major flood events that are supposed to be every hundred years, every 500 years are coming every two to three years,” says Arnold City Administrator Brian Richison.

Richison says Arnold doesn’t have an official position on whether the Valley Park levee is to blame, but he says it’s a topic of ongoing discussion. Arnold has talked with the Army Corps of Engineers and opponents of the Valley Park levee about the issue, but has yet to reach a conclusion.

“We do have some questions. The 2015 flood was our worst ever, this flood is going to be in the top four or five,” Richison says.

The mayor of Arnold says building new levees or offering more flood insurance won’t solve anything.

Ron Counts is advocating FEMA should come in like it did in 1993 and offer buyouts to areas hit once again by swollen rivers.

“Basically say hey, this is your one and last chance, we’re going to offer you X amount of dollars, a fair market price, for the house and the property, where the city could come in and take ownership of it and make park land out of it or whatever,” he says.

Counts says the land could be turned into parks or other types of recreational areas that could withstand flooding with much less damage.

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