Ike’s flash floods ravage Silex, Missouri

Thursday, September 18, 2008 | 6:56 p.m. CDT

SILEX — Along the streets of Silex, population 206, it almost looks like there’s a community-wide yard sale.
Couches, recliners, kitchen tables, a piano and rolls of carpet rest on front lawns. But look a little more closely, and the furniture is coated in mud, the piano unplayable, the carpets soaked and lying in shreds, covered with dirty footprints.
The mighty Mississippi didn’t soak this eastern Missouri town — even though it drenched other Lincoln County communities earlier this summer — but this week a flash flood did. Heavy rains left over from Hurricane Ike caused the Cuivre River to overflow its banks Sunday, giving residents just minutes to flee before several feet of water filled their homes.
“There were only eight homes in the whole town that weren’t affected,” said Kelly Hardcastle, Lincoln County emergency management director. He said about 6 inches of rain fell in the region from Sept. 12 to Sunday.
While other parts of the county saw damage, Silex had the most, with 76 residences and two churches damaged. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder said Thursday that 10 federal and state teams will start collecting damage information from 29 Missouri counties that experienced flooding earlier this month, beginning in Lincoln County.
Remnants of Hurricane Ike caused the weekend storms that led to flash flooding around the state. While most of the rivers in Missouri have already risen, crests on the Mississippi south of St. Louis are happening through Saturday. In Silex, the dirty, smelly work of flood cleanup was already well under way. City Clerk Doris Royster, 63, was drying out bears from her teddy bear collection on her front lawn, with a new cast on her arm. Her home flooded Sunday, and then she slipped in some mud Monday, breaking her arm. A police officer wrote “Silex Flood ‘08” across it.
“I have double trouble,” she said.
“Somebody said, ‘you’re taking this awful well.’ What am I going to do, sit around and cry? I’m not the type of person to have people wait on me,” she said.
Royster wasn’t sure when she’d move back home, but hoped to make one room livable until she could fix up the rest. “The worst part for me is I can’t do my hair,” she said with a smile, as she ran a hand over her head.
In this one stoplight town where it seems everyone knows everyone, residents traded bursts of conversation — about a house that looked like a giant had thrown firewood at it, or where mushrooms had started to grow inside a damp structure. One person mentioned the surprise of having flood water in a refrigerator vegetable bin.
But sadness ran just below the surface.
Brandi Pezold, 34, who stocks shelves overnight at Wal-Mart, estimated she’d already thrown out thousands of dollars worth of her family’s belongings. She just bought her house last year, and this week had to tear up all the carpets and linoleum. On Thursday, she ran fans and used cleansers to try and keep the damp, and mold at bay.
“Oh, it makes me sick. It just makes me sick,” she said. “We kind of work paycheck to paycheck and struggle as it is.”

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