After suffering the loss of puppies amid flooding, St. Charles County Dog Rescue is rebuilding with community support

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) – A St. Charles County animal rescue continues its cleanup process, more than three weeks after floodwaters tore through its building.

Stray Paws Rescue is on Depot Avenue in Old Town St. Peters. As floodwaters began to rise in the early morning hours of July 26, President Linda Roever said staff members were desperate to get to the shelter.

“We literally couldn’t access it,” she said. “They were running boats in and out of the neighborhood and eventually I decided to walk along the train tracks and then wade into the building, where the water was about knee deep.”

Once inside, she makes a tragic discovery.

“We lost 10 puppies that were in pens and couldn’t get up,” she said. “It was absolutely awful and we had staff members who really continue to struggle with what we saw,” she said.

Fifteen other adult dogs remained in their pens and cages. Some, she said, were able to climb onto their beds to escape the water, while others remained standing in them.

“Almost they were still in the water, their chests sunk in the water, some of them were on their raised beds because they were in pens, the others who were in cages were up to their necks in water,” says Roever. “But everyone was still able to stand.”

With the help of area first responders, Roever was able to get the adult dogs to safety. Since the flood, they have all been placed in foster homes and some have been adopted.

Once the water was removed, Roever was able to see the damage better. The building’s HVAC system, electrical and plumbing needed repair. Three feet of drywall closest to the ground, marking the height of the water, were ripped out. Valuable office paper documents were soaked.

“We’ve never seen anything like it,” she said. “We had water here and there, but nothing like that.”

Stray Paws Rescue moved into the premises just over a year ago after investing thousands of dollars in renovations. The building previously housed a landscaping business, Roever said.

“It was all messed up,” she said. “Now we start again.”

Starting over would not be possible without public donations and local businesses stepping up to offer their services for free or at a reduced rate.

“The silver lining to all of this is that the community has stepped up to help us,” Roever said. “It was amazing. We couldn’t do it without them.

The rescue is near Dardenne and Spencer creeks, but is not in a floodplain according to county floodplain maps.

The City of St. Peters said all of its pumping systems and mitigation efforts were working to the best of their abilities.

“When you get at least a foot of rain in eight hours and something like Dardenne Creek rises 20 feet, where is that water supposed to go?” asked Lisa Bedian, spokeswoman for the city of St. Peters. “There are pumps and everything in place and they worked like they were supposed to, it’s just that the systems aren’t built to handle that kind of capacity.”

Bedian told News 4 as pump stations automatically turn on, like a residential sump pump, debris quickly covered the floor grates, causing a backup.

“The grates that water drains into, if they’re covered in debris, gravel, dirt, grass clippings, things from your front yard…if things get sucked into those grates, the water cannot pass,” she said. “So we actually had people manually going to these grids with shovels and rakes and digging these things out of the grids so the water could get through.”

The city estimates that at least 250 homes were damaged following the record rainfall. FEMA collected damage estimates with the Small Business Administration.

The city’s Rec-Plex saw about four inches of water entering parts of the building, something that had never happened before, according to Bedian. All repairs are complete, except for damage to two hardwood courts, in which the city awaits the arrival of supplies.

All of the city’s parks that were damaged by the floods have since reopened.

To donate to Stray Paws Rescue, visit their Facebook page.