Amid record-breaking rainfall, St. Louis resident Margaret Shellert is facing the full brunt of devastating back-to-back flooding events this week.
After the region was hit with torrential rains Monday and Tuesday, a second round of storms Thursday exacerbated conditions even further for her and many in the city.
“My house has never, ever flooded. Never got water in it. This is the first time ever,” Shellert told CNN affiliate KMOV. “All my floors are ruined, furniture’s ruined, all appliances are ruined.”
The distressing flooding striking her and her neighbors comes as storms slammed the St. Louis area Thursday, submerging part of the city in 7 feet of floodwaters and trapping some residents in their homes, officials said.
St. Louis was drenched with more than 9 inches of rain from late Monday into Tuesday, outdoing the city’s highest 24-hour rainfall total on record of 7.02 inches in 1915, according to the National Weather Service.
Areas around St. Louis saw about 6 to 10 inches of rain in a six hour span from Monday into Tuesday, the weather service said. The flash flooding caused multiple road closures on several interstates, officials say.
At least two people have been found dead, including the driver of a submerged car, and the driver of semi-truck, according to police.
Officers conducting a welfare check on the truck driver “located the subject’s vehicle unoccupied and evidence it had been completely submerged in floodwaters from the recent rainstorm,” a post on the Hazelwood Police Department’s Facebook page states.
Officers canvassed the area and found the missing driver’s body nearby, the post added.
“Flash floods are usually characterized by raging torrents after heavy rains that rip through river beds, urban streets, or mountain canyons sweeping everything before them,” the weather service said. “They can also occur even if no rain has fallen, for instance after a levee or dam has failed, or after a sudden release of water by a debris or ice jam.”
St. Louis resident Jeff Boshans told CNN affiliate KSDK that floodwater as high as 9 feet overtook his basement following Tuesday’s flooding.
“Just imagine all of your belongings in a room in the basement that basically floated to the ceiling and then came crashing down.” Boshans said.
‘This is not normal’
During Thursday’s second round of flooding, first responders in St. Louis rescued six children at a daycare center who were trapped as water levels rose. No injuries were reported, officials say.
Sixty people facing high waters throughout the afternoon were also rescued or assisted, according to the city’s fire department.
Meanwhile, St. Louis ArtWorks, a nonprofit art and life skills program for underserved youth, lost about $60,000 worth in damages after floodwaters deluged their building’s basement Tuesday and Thursday.
While Tuesday’s flooding was “spotty” in some areas of the building, Thursday’s flooding was much worse, according to Jacqueline Dace, the program’s executive director.
Water on Thursday “was gushing in multiple locations,” Dace told CNN. “Water was coming through the walls and doors. The water didn’t have anywhere to go since the ground was so saturated.”
Dace added that she had not seen such intense flooding in the area before.
“This is not normal. Normally within the surrounded areas of St. Louis city, we may get flooding but it doesn’t impact the inner city as much as it has this week,” Dace said.
Such extreme weather events are likely to become more frequent and more intense as the climate crisis persists globally.
The atmosphere can hold more moisture as temperatures climb, making it even more likely that significant records will be broken. More water vapor in the atmosphere means more moisture available to fall as rain, which leads to higher rainfall rates.
Human-caused fossil fuel emissions have warmed the planet a little more than 1 degree Celsius on average, with more intense warming over land areas.
CNN’s Amir Vera, Caroll Alvarado, Jason Hanna, Andy Rose and Raja Razek contributed to this report.