VALLEY PARK, MO. - The Valley Park Levee is under fire after a report reveals it was built too high.
Three to five feet of water swamped hundreds of homes and businesses in December. The Valley Park levee withstood the water, but the report finds other communities may have paid the price.
The report was commissioned by the great rivers habitat alliance. The surveying was done on Aug. 9 by private engineering firm Pickett, Ray, and Silver. GRHA says the findings in the report confirm what they've believed all along.
The Valley Park Levee was built higher than the Corp’s standards.
Ask anyone who lives in Pacific about the December floods, and they've got a story to tell.
"It was very disheartening, very disheartening," recalled Dennis Scoles.
Scoles’ story is about his livelihood. His business, Christopher's Corner, was swallowed up by the record breaking floods.
He showed NewsChannel 5 just how high the water rose, positioning his hand at chin height, "it was about this high in the building here."
The Meramec River flood tore through cities with intense force leaving millions of dollars in damage. For those who didn't have flood insurance, it was crippling.
"The people in the town here have really supported us a lot, so without that we wouldn't be open," Scoles said.
David stokes is executive director of the great rivers habitat alliance, the conservation group which commissioned the report to get answers after he says they were stonewalled by the Army Corp of Engineers.
“Maybe one of the reasons for this was that somebody constructed an improperly high levee not far from them in valley park," explained Stokes.
The report found the levee was between 3 and 8 feet higher than the Corps' guidelines in some places.
"This levy if it had been constructed at its authorized height would have topped and that might not have been good for some people but they didn't stop the flood, they just moved the flood," Stokes said.
Patrick Conroy is a Geotechnical specialist with The Army Corp of Engineers. Conroy says the final as built height of the levee includes additional height to accommodate expected settlement that occurs after the levee is constructed.
"The levy was built according to all the policies and laws and it was vetted throughout the chain of command within The Core of Engineers at that time," said Conroy.
Scoles doesn’t want to point any fingers and says no one is to blame but Mother Nature.
"Do I wish they wouldn’t have built the levee and they would have gotten flooded? No, I don’t want that at all. You take what you’re given and you deal with it," said Scoles.
The Great Rivers Habitat Alliance says their next step is to find out who gave the green light for the height of the levee. Then they hope to get compensation for the communities devastated by the December floods.
The Army Corp Of Engineers says USGS is currently conducting a study to determine the effects of the levee during the December flood.