by Michael R. Allen
Wednesday night was rough on us. The front quarter of the flat roof membrane on the three-story section of our house blew off, pulling up the recovery layer and uncovering the decking. Water poured in, ruining drywall on the third floor and seeping down into the second floor. Meanwhile, my truck was hit by a street tree that fell and the windshield was damaged.
When I returned home, I was able to get a tarp from a neighbor and make a hasty covering although continued lightning cut short my efforts. Our power stayed on long after most neighbors lost theirs, but went out before midnight. It remains off, although just last night I saw lights back on inside of Crown Candy Kitchen, where perishables had been evacuated by distributors.
Yesterday, I stayed home and obtained more tarps from neighbors and set to making a sturdier repair. An ex-neighbor who has been helping friends rehab a building that he sold to them was around and helped me with the work. I used various scrap 2×4’s, 1×4’s and other pieces to nail down the tarps around the edges. I further anchored the tarps with bricks.
At the moment, severe weather has returned and I am at work hoping that my work holds up today. No matter what, we will return to sleep inside of our brick oven tonight to keep thieves away.
Other news from the storm:
Winds took down part of the east wall of the Switzer’s Building on Laclede’s Landing.
Downtown East St. Louis took an incredible hit, with several small historic commercial buildings in states of partial collapse or with severely compromised roofs. The Stockyards area was hard hit, with the old entrance sign bent and the Robertson’s feed store suffering a small collapse. Somehow, the Armour packing Plant and the Murphy Building escaped further damage.
A corner storefront building at Sidney and Lemp in south St. Louis has part of its eastern wall collapse.
Two houses in a lovely Greek Revival row on Howard Street between 13th and 14th streets lost parts of their second-story walls. A commercial building dating to te 1870s in the 1300 block of Benton Street — the old Someone Cares Mission — collapsed; it was already fire-damaged. The nearby Mullanphy Emigrant Home thankfully did not incur further damage.
While officials promised to help evacuate people, seniors down the street at the Jackson place senior center were still sitting around outside while the building lacked power. Ambulances came to the center all day long.
Once again, I was reminded that urban areas have grossly inadequate strategies for coping with summer heat. Winter weather can impair driving, so a lot of emergency planning covers winter storms. Summer heat waves always catch cities off guard, even though they are far deadlier than winter weather. I can’t believe that over 400,000 people in the region lack power during 100-degree heat.