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Monday, June 27, 2011

Storms Damage Homes in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS • Thunderstorms that moved through the St. Louis region late Saturday and early Sunday knocked out electrical power to thousands, flooded roads and interstates and damaged homes and businesses.

The storm dumped nearly 4½ inches of rain at Lambert-St. Louis International airport between 4:45 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. Sunday.

At one point, 27,000 Missouri Ameren customers were without power.

The hardest-hit areas were Berkeley and St. Charles, said Ameren spokeswoman Rita Holmes-Bobo. Most of the outages were caused by lightning strikes on transformers and substations, she said.

Crews worked to repair the damage, and all power was expected to be restored by late Sunday.

In Illinois, nearly 17,000 Ameren customers were without power about 2:30 a.m., mostly due to high wind and lightning, spokesman Leigh Morris said.

"If it had been safe to sit outside, you could have read a newspaper. It was that bright," Morris said.

By noon Sunday, 2,600 customers remained without power, almost half of those in St. Clair and Madison counties. Power there was expected to be restored by the end of the day.

The heavy rain flooded many St. Louis streets.

About 3 a.m., flash flooding prompted all lanes to be closed on parts of Interstates 70 and 55 and Highway 40. Police reported cars stalling in high water on Highway 40 near Grand Boulevard. Flooding also closed I-55 at Loughborough Avenue. Highway 40 and Interstate 55 reopened within an hour, said Deanna Venker, MoDOT area engineer.

Two eastbound lanes of I-70 in north St. Louis remained closed Sunday night and likely would be closed Monday morning as well for repairs to crumbled pavement caused by a sewer line break and erosion, MoDOT officials said.

They cautioned motorists to use alternate routes to work Monday morning if possible.

Floodwater also filled lanes of Highway 141 under Interstate 44 in Valley Park.

In West County, several water main breaks forced temporary lane and street closures in Frontenac, Creve Coeur and Town and Country, according to a police dispatcher.

A Missouri American Water spokesman said she knew of three 8-inch water main breaks that left several dozen homes with reduced pressure but said it wasn't clear the breaks were weather-related.

Several north St. Louis homes were evacuated because of flooding, said Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District spokesman Lance LeComb. Most had standing water in their basements.

City and MSD officials ordered the evacuations this morning while inspecting the homes in the 4400 block of Dryden Avenue and Dryden Court. Utilities to the homes were shut off, and police patrolled the area.

Reports of flooding also came from businesses along Manchester Road in Brentwood, LeComb said.

Those who experienced water backups are asked to call MSD's 24-hour customer service line at 314-768-6260.

In Cahokia, several sewer backups were reported after the heavy rainfall, leaving 5 to 6 feet of water in some homes' basements in an area off Falling Springs Road. Several streets and yards in the same area remained flooded late Sunday because the sewers still were unable to handle all the water from flash flooding in Cahokia, officials said.

In St. Charles, police reported receiving several calls about flooding and downed trees and limbs, mostly north of Interstate 70. Residents of the 80-unit Creekside Apartments at 121 Cole Boulevard were evacuated after basement and ground-floor apartments flooded with more than 2 feet of water in some instances. It's uncertain when, or if, residents will be allowed back in.

At 2 p.m. Sunday, some lanes of eastbound Interstate 70 between Shreve Avenue and West Florissant Avenue remained closed due to buckled pavement from a sewer line collapse.

Late Sunday afternoon, heavy rain fell across southern Jefferson County and northern St. Francois County. Bonne Terre and De Soto were among the towns under a flash flood warning.

Today's high is expected to be in the low 90s with a 50 percent chance of storms.

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