St. Louis area under siege as workers battle inexorable flooding

ST. LOUIS -- Flood waters are rising more than one inch per hour in neighborhoods in the St. Louis metro area and residents are trying desperately to save their homes or simply escape.

Millions in danger from threat of Mississippi River flooding

The Sterling Estates subdivision in Arnold, Missouri, just south of St. Louis, sits in the spot where the overflowing Meramec and Mississippi Rivers meet.

As of this afternoon, half-a-dozen homes in Arnold had been lost, joining hundreds of others submerged in the St. Louis area, and volunteers filled and stacked sandbags in an effort to save others.

Resident Carla Bryant helped organize the effort even as sewage filled the basement of her home two doors down. "It's devastating -- just trying to get through it," she said.

December rains swelled rivers around St. Louis and pushed water into nearby communities. Floods of this size have not been seen in the St. Louis area since the record-breaking floods of 1993.

The water was so high in one neighborhood that rescuers had to pluck a man and his dog off a rooftop. Dozens of other people were also rescued from stranded vehicles.

Midwest under threat of severe flooding

Officials issued evacuation orders for several communities on the banks of the Mississippi north of St. Louis, including Valley Park and West Alton.

Downriver, things are no better, many parts of Cape Girardeau have been cut off by the rising waters -- and the river won't crest there until at least the weekend.

In Branson, the Army Corps of Engineers opened the spillways at of Table Rock Dam in an effort to ease flooding along the White River.

Workers tried sandbags at wastewater treatment plants with little success, there was simply too much water. This plant in Fenton had to be closed, and that meant untreated sewage was flowing into local streams and in the Meramec River.

That's the same river overflowing into Bryant's neighborhood. "We'll get thru it and have to move on," she said.

Right now the Meramec River near Arnold is expected to rise another 1 ½ feet and crest at 47 feet by tomorrow between noon and 6 p.m.

On Wed., officials said they were examining the 19 levees on the Mississippi river that might be at risk.