Taum Sauk Pumped Storage Reservoir Disaster

Taum Sauk Pumped Storage Reservoir Disaster

Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

December 14th, 2005, 5:49 pm #1

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/s ... enDocument
Dam failure releases wall of water in SE Missouri
Compiled from news sources
12/14/2005

LESTERVILLE, Mo. -- Water poured through a breach at a hydroelectric plant's rural reservoir in southeast Missouri this morning, washing away an unknown number of homes and vehicles, authorities said.

The breach occurred about 5:30 a.m. in the upper of two reservoirs at AmerenUE's Taum Sauk Lake Hydroelectric Plant, AmerenUE officials said.

One person had been feared missing but was later accounted for, authorities said.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was investigating the cause of the breach. AmerenUE officials said there was no sign of foul play. The reservoir sits near the New Madrid Fault Line, which often generates small earthquakes, but Gov. Matt Blunt said no seismic activity occurred Wednesday morning.
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The Rev. Bill Jackson said Jerry and Lisa Tubes and their three young children were rescued some time after dawn from several locations in Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park, where Jerry Tubes is superintendent. Jackson said floodwater destroyed the family’s home, which was near the park campground.

All five were taken to Reynolds County Memorial Hospital in Ellington, south of Lesterville. Jackson said two of the children were being taken by ambulance to hospitals in St. Louis. He didn’t know their conditions, but said all five family members had suffered from exposure.

“The water collapsed the house around them, and they just floated out,” said Jackson, who was with the family in the hospital. “Jerry was in a cedar tree when the rescuers found him. He was cold and has a lot of bruises. Lisa had two of the kids with her. I don’t know where the rescuers found the others.

“They are very, very grateful,” Jackson said. “It’s a miracle. Can you imagine your house being swept away at a time like that?

Air temperatures were in the mid 30s when the dam broke. The Tubes’ children range from five years to six months. The two older children, a boy and a girl, were transferred to St. Louis, and the baby -- a boy -- remained with his parents in the Reynolds hospital.

The Shut-Ins is downstream on the Black River from the AmerenUE upper reservoir.

National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Pedigo said rain was not a factor in the break. The region received only about one-tenth of an inch of rain overnight, he said.

Conditions along the Black River, where the plant is situated, were considered dangerous, the National Weather Service said.

The plant, built in 1963, is in the Ozarks, about 120 miles southwest of St. Louis.

"The Lesterville area and areas south along the Black River are in extreme peril," said Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Marty Elmore. "We need to make every effort to have folks get to higher ground."

Pedigo said rescue teams searched for people believed to be trapped in cars, especially along Highway N near the reservoir shortly after the breach. Pedigo said a house, a mobile home, several cars and a tractor-trailer were reported washed away.

The town of Lesterville, with about 150 residents, was under a voluntary evacuation order, said Reynolds County emergency management director Terry Sanders. She didn't know how many people were forced out of their homes. "We're so small we don't have population signs," she said.

Reynolds County has about 6,700 residents.

Officials at AmerenUE, a utility based in St. Louis, said the breach occurred at the northwest corner of the reservoir that holds back 1.5 billion gallons of water from the Black River.

"A number of AmerenUE engineers and specialists are investigating the incident; clearly, public safety is our top concern," said plant superintendent Rick Cooper.

AmerenUE spokeswoman Susan Gallagher said it wasn't immediately clear how much water escaped. She said crews were hustling to the scene to try and fix the breach.

Gallagher said the plant has four chief features: the upper reservoir atop Proffit Mountain, a 7,000-foot-long shaft and tunnel, a powerhouse with two reversible pump turbine units and a lower reservoir formed by a dam across the Black River's east fork.

During times of peak demand for electricity, water -- released from the upper reservoir -- rushes down the shaft and through the tunnel. As it passes through the powerhouse, the water spins the turbines to generate electricity, then is retained in the lower reservoir.

Blunt said the lower reservoir was holding, though it was retaining more water than normal. He said there was concern that if the lower reservoir succumbs, massive amounts of water could surge downstream
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Joined: August 2nd, 2001, 8:13 pm

December 15th, 2005, 4:39 am #2

The working theory now is that the pumps kept running uphill even though the upper reservoir was already full...sensor failure...

See stltoday.com for more info.

So, the upper reservoir's berm didn't fail on its own...the pumps kept running until it overflowed, and then the flowing water eroded the berm and caused the drastic failure.
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

December 15th, 2005, 4:12 pm #3

It's interesting that AmerenUE was so proud that they could operate the power plant by remote control some 100 miles away in St. Louis. I guess sometimes it helps to have a human onsite when you're trying to generate power for a city like St. Louis.

Here's the article on the plant receiving a design accolades in October for its nifty remote control feature.

http://www.network54.com/Forum/3897/message/1130725466/
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Joined: April 27th, 2004, 6:37 pm

December 16th, 2005, 10:42 am #4

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/s ... enDocument
Dam failure releases wall of water in SE Missouri
Compiled from news sources
12/14/2005

LESTERVILLE, Mo. -- Water poured through a breach at a hydroelectric plant's rural reservoir in southeast Missouri this morning, washing away an unknown number of homes and vehicles, authorities said.

The breach occurred about 5:30 a.m. in the upper of two reservoirs at AmerenUE's Taum Sauk Lake Hydroelectric Plant, AmerenUE officials said.

One person had been feared missing but was later accounted for, authorities said.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was investigating the cause of the breach. AmerenUE officials said there was no sign of foul play. The reservoir sits near the New Madrid Fault Line, which often generates small earthquakes, but Gov. Matt Blunt said no seismic activity occurred Wednesday morning.
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The Rev. Bill Jackson said Jerry and Lisa Tubes and their three young children were rescued some time after dawn from several locations in Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park, where Jerry Tubes is superintendent. Jackson said floodwater destroyed the family’s home, which was near the park campground.

All five were taken to Reynolds County Memorial Hospital in Ellington, south of Lesterville. Jackson said two of the children were being taken by ambulance to hospitals in St. Louis. He didn’t know their conditions, but said all five family members had suffered from exposure.

“The water collapsed the house around them, and they just floated out,” said Jackson, who was with the family in the hospital. “Jerry was in a cedar tree when the rescuers found him. He was cold and has a lot of bruises. Lisa had two of the kids with her. I don’t know where the rescuers found the others.

“They are very, very grateful,” Jackson said. “It’s a miracle. Can you imagine your house being swept away at a time like that?

Air temperatures were in the mid 30s when the dam broke. The Tubes’ children range from five years to six months. The two older children, a boy and a girl, were transferred to St. Louis, and the baby -- a boy -- remained with his parents in the Reynolds hospital.

The Shut-Ins is downstream on the Black River from the AmerenUE upper reservoir.

National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Pedigo said rain was not a factor in the break. The region received only about one-tenth of an inch of rain overnight, he said.

Conditions along the Black River, where the plant is situated, were considered dangerous, the National Weather Service said.

The plant, built in 1963, is in the Ozarks, about 120 miles southwest of St. Louis.

"The Lesterville area and areas south along the Black River are in extreme peril," said Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Marty Elmore. "We need to make every effort to have folks get to higher ground."

Pedigo said rescue teams searched for people believed to be trapped in cars, especially along Highway N near the reservoir shortly after the breach. Pedigo said a house, a mobile home, several cars and a tractor-trailer were reported washed away.

The town of Lesterville, with about 150 residents, was under a voluntary evacuation order, said Reynolds County emergency management director Terry Sanders. She didn't know how many people were forced out of their homes. "We're so small we don't have population signs," she said.

Reynolds County has about 6,700 residents.

Officials at AmerenUE, a utility based in St. Louis, said the breach occurred at the northwest corner of the reservoir that holds back 1.5 billion gallons of water from the Black River.

"A number of AmerenUE engineers and specialists are investigating the incident; clearly, public safety is our top concern," said plant superintendent Rick Cooper.

AmerenUE spokeswoman Susan Gallagher said it wasn't immediately clear how much water escaped. She said crews were hustling to the scene to try and fix the breach.

Gallagher said the plant has four chief features: the upper reservoir atop Proffit Mountain, a 7,000-foot-long shaft and tunnel, a powerhouse with two reversible pump turbine units and a lower reservoir formed by a dam across the Black River's east fork.

During times of peak demand for electricity, water -- released from the upper reservoir -- rushes down the shaft and through the tunnel. As it passes through the powerhouse, the water spins the turbines to generate electricity, then is retained in the lower reservoir.

Blunt said the lower reservoir was holding, though it was retaining more water than normal. He said there was concern that if the lower reservoir succumbs, massive amounts of water could surge downstream
'Rubble' Made Up Part of Mo. Reservoir


Dec 15, 11:01 PM (ET)

By CHRISTOPHER LEONARD

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Inspectors were shocked to discover that the collapsed portion of a mountaintop reservoir was made of rocky "fill" instead of the granite that was assumed for decades to be the main material, the state's chief reservoir inspector said Thursday.

James Alexander, director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources' Dam and Reservoir Safety Program, said the broken portion of retaining wall - 70 to 80 feet high and about two football fields wide - appeared to consist entirely of soil and smaller rock.

"We were shocked," he said, to see the "rubble material."

Alexander inspected the dam after the accident Wednesday that released a billion gallons of water down the side of Proffit Mountain.

The 50-acre upper reservoir of the Taum Sauk Lake hydroelectric plant in southeast Missouri breached shortly after 5 a.m. The torrent of water ripped through a state park, then down along the Black River, knocking cars and trucks off a rural highway.

The water tore from its foundation the home of park superintendent Jerry Toops, his wife, Lisa, and their three young children. All five survived, but the children were being treated at a St. Louis hospital for hypothermia.

A hospital spokesman said 5-year-old Tanner was in critical condition. His 3-year-old sister Tara and 7-month-old brother Tucker were upgraded Thursday night to fair condition.

The breach apparently occurred after an automated system malfunctioned and pumped too much water into the reservoir. A backup system that should have caught the problem also apparently failed, said Gary Rainwater, chairman and chief executive of St. Louis-based utility AmerenUE.

Inspectors from AmerenUE and the state were assisting the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees the plant, with the investigation.

FERC officials did not return phone calls seeking comment. Asked to respond to Alexander's comments, AmerenUE issued a statement that read, "We will address this as part of our investigation."

If a large part of the retaining wall was mostly soil and smaller rock, it was likely doomed once too much water was pumped into the reservoir, said Charles Morris, an environmental engineering professor at the University of Missouri-Rolla. Soil-based retention walls will erode when overtopped, he said.

Over the years, leaks have occurred at the reservoir, which was completed in 1963. AmerenUE installed a plastic liner about a year ago to limit the leaks.

While inspectors might not have been able to predict the collapse, they would not have been as dismissive of the leaks if they knew part of the wall was made of fill, not granite, Alexander said.

"If I would have known that, yeah, that would be more of a concern," he said.

Information provided by AmerenUE said six million tons of granite was removed to level the top of 1,590-foot-tall Proffit Mountain, and workers used the removed stone to build a sloping retaining wall 90 feet tall and covering an area the equivalent of 30 football fields.

The company said that in addition to granite, the reservoir was lined with concrete and asphalt.

http://apnews.excite.com/article/200512 ... 3O801.html
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

December 20th, 2005, 8:23 pm #5

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/s ... enDocument
Dam failure releases wall of water in SE Missouri
Compiled from news sources
12/14/2005

LESTERVILLE, Mo. -- Water poured through a breach at a hydroelectric plant's rural reservoir in southeast Missouri this morning, washing away an unknown number of homes and vehicles, authorities said.

The breach occurred about 5:30 a.m. in the upper of two reservoirs at AmerenUE's Taum Sauk Lake Hydroelectric Plant, AmerenUE officials said.

One person had been feared missing but was later accounted for, authorities said.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was investigating the cause of the breach. AmerenUE officials said there was no sign of foul play. The reservoir sits near the New Madrid Fault Line, which often generates small earthquakes, but Gov. Matt Blunt said no seismic activity occurred Wednesday morning.
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The Rev. Bill Jackson said Jerry and Lisa Tubes and their three young children were rescued some time after dawn from several locations in Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park, where Jerry Tubes is superintendent. Jackson said floodwater destroyed the family’s home, which was near the park campground.

All five were taken to Reynolds County Memorial Hospital in Ellington, south of Lesterville. Jackson said two of the children were being taken by ambulance to hospitals in St. Louis. He didn’t know their conditions, but said all five family members had suffered from exposure.

“The water collapsed the house around them, and they just floated out,” said Jackson, who was with the family in the hospital. “Jerry was in a cedar tree when the rescuers found him. He was cold and has a lot of bruises. Lisa had two of the kids with her. I don’t know where the rescuers found the others.

“They are very, very grateful,” Jackson said. “It’s a miracle. Can you imagine your house being swept away at a time like that?

Air temperatures were in the mid 30s when the dam broke. The Tubes’ children range from five years to six months. The two older children, a boy and a girl, were transferred to St. Louis, and the baby -- a boy -- remained with his parents in the Reynolds hospital.

The Shut-Ins is downstream on the Black River from the AmerenUE upper reservoir.

National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Pedigo said rain was not a factor in the break. The region received only about one-tenth of an inch of rain overnight, he said.

Conditions along the Black River, where the plant is situated, were considered dangerous, the National Weather Service said.

The plant, built in 1963, is in the Ozarks, about 120 miles southwest of St. Louis.

"The Lesterville area and areas south along the Black River are in extreme peril," said Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Marty Elmore. "We need to make every effort to have folks get to higher ground."

Pedigo said rescue teams searched for people believed to be trapped in cars, especially along Highway N near the reservoir shortly after the breach. Pedigo said a house, a mobile home, several cars and a tractor-trailer were reported washed away.

The town of Lesterville, with about 150 residents, was under a voluntary evacuation order, said Reynolds County emergency management director Terry Sanders. She didn't know how many people were forced out of their homes. "We're so small we don't have population signs," she said.

Reynolds County has about 6,700 residents.

Officials at AmerenUE, a utility based in St. Louis, said the breach occurred at the northwest corner of the reservoir that holds back 1.5 billion gallons of water from the Black River.

"A number of AmerenUE engineers and specialists are investigating the incident; clearly, public safety is our top concern," said plant superintendent Rick Cooper.

AmerenUE spokeswoman Susan Gallagher said it wasn't immediately clear how much water escaped. She said crews were hustling to the scene to try and fix the breach.

Gallagher said the plant has four chief features: the upper reservoir atop Proffit Mountain, a 7,000-foot-long shaft and tunnel, a powerhouse with two reversible pump turbine units and a lower reservoir formed by a dam across the Black River's east fork.

During times of peak demand for electricity, water -- released from the upper reservoir -- rushes down the shaft and through the tunnel. As it passes through the powerhouse, the water spins the turbines to generate electricity, then is retained in the lower reservoir.

Blunt said the lower reservoir was holding, though it was retaining more water than normal. He said there was concern that if the lower reservoir succumbs, massive amounts of water could surge downstream

Below is a summary of articles on the Taum Sauk dam disaster in the past week.

Jerry Toop, superintendent of Taum Sauk/Johnson Shut Ins and his young children are much in my prayers after they were swept away in the 20 foot wall of water that destroyed their house in 30 degree temps.

I have had numerous converations with Jerry over the years as we discussed the possibility of locating the Jakk Longacre Highpointers Museum on the road approaching the Taum Sauk summit. I can’t imagine a better superindent anwya.

As a native of Missouri, I first got the highpointing bug in 1969 when I visited the Taum Sauk reservoir with my parents and brother. Over the years I have camped up and down the Black River and its surrounding hills. It’s hard to imagine what has become of the most beautiful spot in all of Missouri.

Here’s the articles.
In article headlined, Taum Sauk fund-raisers set

Two accounts have been established and one fund-raiser will take place next week to benefit Johnson’s Shut-Ins Superintendent Jerry Toop’s family. Toop, his wife, and their three children were swept out of their beds Wednesday morning when the Taum Sauk dam failed and water from the reservoir slammed into their home and destroyed the building.

The three children were taken to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, where they were listed in critical condition on Wednesday. On Friday, however, a spokesman for the hospital said that only Tanner, 5, remained in critical condition in the pediatric care unit. Tara, 3, and Tucker, 7 months had been upgraded to fair condition and were moved out of the intensive care unit.

A fund has been established at the First State Community Bank of Ironton. Donations may be sent to the
Jerry and Lisa Toops Benefit Fund
First State Bank of Ironton
P.O. Box 168,
Ironton, Mo. 63650

Also, a fund to help victims of the flood and rebuilding efforts in Reynolds County has been established at Sun Security Bank. A spokesman for the bank said a special post office box has been opened to take donations. Make checks to:
Benefit for the Victims of the Taum Sauk
P.O. Box 231
Lesterville, 63654

Those who suffered damage as a result of the flooding are asked to contact a claims center that AmerenUE set up in Room 52 of the Shepherd Mountain Inn, 1321 N. Highway 21, Ironton. Claimants also may call 1-800-552-7583 ext. 44740 to report damages. Claims personnel from AmerenUE also will visit homes and families who were affected by the incident.

Linkage:
Assessment Begins on Damage to Johnson’s Shut-ins State Park 2005-12-17

Preliminary reports indicate the majority of the damage was in the area adjacent to the East Fork of the Black River, which flows through the park. Extensive damage was reported to the superintendent’s residence, the campground, the park’s water plant and the boardwalk to the shut-ins, the park’s signature natural feature. The park store and office were flooded but are still standing.

Investigators find soil, small rock at dam breach: AmerenUE spokesperson says company believed dam was made of rock and concrete 2005-12-16

An AmerenUE spokesman said the company was under the understanding that the Taum Sauk upper dam was made of rock and concrete. But neither material was evident Thursday when investigators examined the 600-foot wide, 100-foot deep breach in the dam that released more than a billion gallons of water into the Black River valley.

Instead, there appeared to be only soil and small rock. Other areas along the top of the dam had suffered minor damage, but those areas held, according to Mike Cleary, communications executive for AmerenUE.

The rock wall dam held an inner polyethylene liner and the floor of the dam was asphalt. The company installed a liner in order to reduce water leaks that resulted when water from the reservoir made its way through several cracks in the rock. The company replaced the original liner one year ago, Cleary said.
…
However, if any part of the dam was earthen, overtopping the reservoir would explain how a breach could occur, he added. The lack of rock and concrete evidence near the breach could mean that the section was, indeed, constructed of earth instead of rock, he theorized.

“If it was earthen, we don’t design them to handle overtopping,” Morris said. “We assume from an engineering perspective, that it will fail if overtopping occurs. That could happen immediately or take some time, depending on the surface.”

Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park Suffered Heavy Damage In Reservoir Failure

Blunt orders review of dam safety rules 2005-12-16

His order also followed a report in Friday’s Post-Dispatch that many dams in Missouri and Illinois need repair, lack emergency plans and are regulated by state offices that are stretched thin. More than half of Missouri’s 641 dams that could prove most destructive if they fail are not regulated by the government.

FBI investigates Taum Sauk failure: Computer forensic experts to examine equipment failure (2005-12-17)

Members of the Highway Patrol’s Division of Drug and Crime Control, which is the department’s investigative unit, were at the Taum Sauk plant on Friday. They are investigating to determine whether the failure of the dam and the computer-operated equipment was an accident or intentional, said Lt. Tim Hull, spokesman for the Highway Patrol.

The investigation into the cause of the equipment failure and the resulting 600-foot wide and 100-foot deep breach in the dam wall could take months.

Given the significant investment in the facility, the company most likely would want to rebuild the dam. However, until the reason for the dam failure is identified, the company will not know whether it would be cost effective to make repairs, spokesman Mike Cleary said.

AmerenUE does not expect the loss of the dam to affect electricity rates. The plant is one of many factors that keep prices down, Cleary explained.

“This helped our system operate more efficiently,” Cleary said. “But it produced less than 2 or 3 percent of our electricity, so there should be no significant impact on rates or production.”

State orders AmerenUE to stabilize Taum Sauk area (2005-12-29)

The department does not have regulatory oversight of the reservoir, but is involved in overseeing recovery efforts after the Dec. 14 breach, which released 1.5 billion gallons of water into the surrounding area, near Lesterville, Mo. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regulates the plant.

AmerenUE has contracted with MacTec, an engineering, environmental and remedial construction firm, to address short-term issues at the site, including stabilizing sediment and addressing debris that has dammed the Black River and changed its flow. MacTec will also present its findings to state and federal authorities.

Lesterville, MO and New Orleans – A Tale of Two Floods 2005-12-16

In the same space of time, ironically, national news was made with the announcement that the New Orleans levees were going to be rebuilt “bigger and better”, now to a height of 17 feet in some places. And the talk of the “ability to withstand a Category 5 storm” is again in the news.

What wasn’t learned from Katrina should now be impressed upon us by Lesterville. Water is HEAVY. If water rises up the sides of a levee wall… one must consider the size of the impoundment! If a few extra feet of depth in a mere 55 acre reservoir in Lesterville, Missouri has enough added weight to collapse a 600 foot wide section of the retaining wall… how much additional pressure would raising the massive Lake Pontchartrain by a foot or 2 exert on these levees?

Disaster shows importance of mutual aid: Emergency officials say major casualty incident will require help of surrounding counties 2005-12-16

David Tetrault, director of the St. Francois County Ambulance, said when they arrived on scene to provide assistance, the emergency services were already being stretched handling the five injured people.

“If this had happened during the summer when that campground was full, there is no doubt in my mind there would have been a thousand people hurt or killed,” Tetrault said.

“Their emergency services would have been quickly overwhelmed, any county’s would. That is why we have to have strong mutual aid agreements in place. In a major casualty incident, you’re going to need the help of surrounding counties.”

State park takes beating when reservoir ruptured 2005-12-15

Holst said 19 campground reservations for 44 nights in the park had been canceled, and those who booked to stay at the park will receive full refunds. The park will not accept new reservations until it becomes clear when it can reopen.
Toops and his family were scheduled to move soon because he has been promoted to assistant Ozarks district supervisor in Lebanon, Mo. It was not clear when the superintendent’s house would be rebuilt.

Johnson’s Shut-Ins got its name thanks to the mix of geology and water in the area.

About 1.5 billion years ago, hot volcanic ash and gases spewed into the air, then cooled, forming a type of rock produced under conditions of intense heat, called igneous rock.

Over time, water from the Black River became confined, or “shut-in” to narrow channels, leading sand and gravel carried by the waters to cut into the erosion-resistant rock and resulting in dramatic chutes and gorges.
Much of the park was donated to Missouri in 1955

Blunt Commends Cooperative Response to Taum Sauk Flooding: Encourages Families to Form Emergency Plans 2005-12-17

“Yesterday’s flood was a true test of our emergency response capabilities. Everyone involved deserves our gratitude. Their immediate and coordinated reaction to protect Missourians safety helped to limit potential devastation,” Blunt said. “I will continue to personally oversee the state’s response to ensure we are doing all we can to help those affected by this tragic event.”

Destruction won’t affect local service, AmerenUE officials say

The power generated by the Taum Sauk plant was not integral to local customers, providing only 440 of the 12,000 megawatts Ameren UE distributes in the region.

Usually the water level is stopped at 3 feet below the top of the, but it looks like it overflowed and washed away the rock and filler material,” Rainwater said.

After the breach, 9 feet of the reservoir remained full, Rainwater said. That water was later drained.

Ameren reports that in 2004 it made repairs to leaks in the side slopes of the Taum Sauk plant. Cracks caused a daily loss of 2 feet of water until Geo-Synthetics Corporation filled the seems with a new rubber lining.

He reports that Lesterville endured less damage than might be expected at other times of the year. This is because the pool at Lesterville was at the lower, winter-pool level so it could absorb the 4- to 5-foot rise that resulted from the surging water, Smith said.

Smith also pointed out that this was the first time his office had contacted FEMA officials using satellite phone technology. There are now 40 satellite phones with FEMA personnel and first-responders throughout the region.

Reservoir failure releases wall of water in SE Missouri 2005-12-14

Gary Rainwater, AmerenUE president, said this afternoon that a preliminary review suggests an “instrumentation failure” caused the automatic system to continue pumping water into the upper reservoir, even though it already was full. Under the theory, he said, water splashing over the reservoir wall eroded its crushed-rock structure, causing a “fairly massive breach” of about 600 feet in width.

Rainwater said the system that fills the upper reservoir operates on its own and is monitored by AmerenUE’s hydro-power station at Lake of the Ozarks. Thomas R. Voss, company executive vice-president, said there are back-up systems as well as a safety that should shut off the pumps when the reservoir is filled.

The Rev. Bill Jackson told the Post-Dispatch that Jerry and Lisa Toops and their three young children were rescued some time after dawn from several locations in Johnson’s Shut-Ins, where Jerry Toops is superintendent. Jackson said floodwater destroyed the family’s home near the park campground. All five family members suffered from exposure.

“The water collapsed the house around them, and they just floated out,” said Jackson, who was with the family after the water hit. “Jerry was in a cedar tree when the rescuers found him. He was cold and has a lot of bruises. Lisa had two of the kids with her. I don’t know where the rescuers found the others.

A 20-foot wall of water smashed into the Toops’ home, sweeping it away. The family members themselves were swept as far as 200 yards away, according to authorities. All that’s left on the site is the cement foundation of the home. Trees on the property are blown down and the site has been turned into a muddy swamp.

The family was discovered by rescuers about 1-1/2 hours after the flood in the field, said Ed Stewart, 59, who lives three miles away, and helped locate them.

The mother and two of the children were found together, another child and the father were found about 50 feet away, Stewart said. They were cold, covered in mud, and so weak they could only manage to make “whimpering sounds,” Stewart said.

Reservoir emptied in about 12 minutes

Rainwater of AmerenUE told reporters that a monitor at the company’s station at the Lake of the Ozarks, where the company generates electricity through Bagnell Dam, indicated that the upper reservoir had been refilled by 5:12 a.m., but had fallen back to low level by 5:24 a.m.

The breach in the northwestern wall dropped the water level in the upper reservoir by about 70 feet, he said.

The Taum Sauk Hydroelectric Plant consists of a 50-acre lake built atop Proffit Mountain that is connected by a mile-long tunnel to a 300-acre lake at the base of the hill. The upper lake is about 700 feet higher in elevation than the lower one. AmerenUE drains the upper reservoir through generating turbines during times of peak electrical demand, then pumps the water back uphill when demand for electricity is lower.

Despite the destruction of the home, residents and business owners downstream considered themselves lucky; the situation would have been far worse if the dam to the lower reservoir had given way, they said. Some even said they had seen worse flooding during heavy rains.

“If that dam had broken, probably all of Lesterville would be under water,” said JoAnn Franklin, who owns a canoe rental business on the East Fork of the Black River

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Joined: January 20th, 2004, 6:42 pm

December 21st, 2005, 2:02 am #6

I don't understand the reasoning for holding the fundraisers for the victims of this accident. In my opinion, AmerenUE should pay for all losses. AmerenUE's equipment caused the accident and the company should foot the bill for responding to it and for making things right with the victims. AmerenUE should not rely on the charity of others to absolve its responsibility for the tragedy.
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

December 21st, 2005, 3:47 pm #7

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/s ... enDocument
Dam failure releases wall of water in SE Missouri
Compiled from news sources
12/14/2005

LESTERVILLE, Mo. -- Water poured through a breach at a hydroelectric plant's rural reservoir in southeast Missouri this morning, washing away an unknown number of homes and vehicles, authorities said.

The breach occurred about 5:30 a.m. in the upper of two reservoirs at AmerenUE's Taum Sauk Lake Hydroelectric Plant, AmerenUE officials said.

One person had been feared missing but was later accounted for, authorities said.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was investigating the cause of the breach. AmerenUE officials said there was no sign of foul play. The reservoir sits near the New Madrid Fault Line, which often generates small earthquakes, but Gov. Matt Blunt said no seismic activity occurred Wednesday morning.
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The Rev. Bill Jackson said Jerry and Lisa Tubes and their three young children were rescued some time after dawn from several locations in Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park, where Jerry Tubes is superintendent. Jackson said floodwater destroyed the family’s home, which was near the park campground.

All five were taken to Reynolds County Memorial Hospital in Ellington, south of Lesterville. Jackson said two of the children were being taken by ambulance to hospitals in St. Louis. He didn’t know their conditions, but said all five family members had suffered from exposure.

“The water collapsed the house around them, and they just floated out,” said Jackson, who was with the family in the hospital. “Jerry was in a cedar tree when the rescuers found him. He was cold and has a lot of bruises. Lisa had two of the kids with her. I don’t know where the rescuers found the others.

“They are very, very grateful,” Jackson said. “It’s a miracle. Can you imagine your house being swept away at a time like that?

Air temperatures were in the mid 30s when the dam broke. The Tubes’ children range from five years to six months. The two older children, a boy and a girl, were transferred to St. Louis, and the baby -- a boy -- remained with his parents in the Reynolds hospital.

The Shut-Ins is downstream on the Black River from the AmerenUE upper reservoir.

National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Pedigo said rain was not a factor in the break. The region received only about one-tenth of an inch of rain overnight, he said.

Conditions along the Black River, where the plant is situated, were considered dangerous, the National Weather Service said.

The plant, built in 1963, is in the Ozarks, about 120 miles southwest of St. Louis.

"The Lesterville area and areas south along the Black River are in extreme peril," said Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Marty Elmore. "We need to make every effort to have folks get to higher ground."

Pedigo said rescue teams searched for people believed to be trapped in cars, especially along Highway N near the reservoir shortly after the breach. Pedigo said a house, a mobile home, several cars and a tractor-trailer were reported washed away.

The town of Lesterville, with about 150 residents, was under a voluntary evacuation order, said Reynolds County emergency management director Terry Sanders. She didn't know how many people were forced out of their homes. "We're so small we don't have population signs," she said.

Reynolds County has about 6,700 residents.

Officials at AmerenUE, a utility based in St. Louis, said the breach occurred at the northwest corner of the reservoir that holds back 1.5 billion gallons of water from the Black River.

"A number of AmerenUE engineers and specialists are investigating the incident; clearly, public safety is our top concern," said plant superintendent Rick Cooper.

AmerenUE spokeswoman Susan Gallagher said it wasn't immediately clear how much water escaped. She said crews were hustling to the scene to try and fix the breach.

Gallagher said the plant has four chief features: the upper reservoir atop Proffit Mountain, a 7,000-foot-long shaft and tunnel, a powerhouse with two reversible pump turbine units and a lower reservoir formed by a dam across the Black River's east fork.

During times of peak demand for electricity, water -- released from the upper reservoir -- rushes down the shaft and through the tunnel. As it passes through the powerhouse, the water spins the turbines to generate electricity, then is retained in the lower reservoir.

Blunt said the lower reservoir was holding, though it was retaining more water than normal. He said there was concern that if the lower reservoir succumbs, massive amounts of water could surge downstream

The USGS has a page devoted to the Taum Sauk disaster.

The page created by the Mid-Continent Geographic Science Center in Rolla has photo galleries showing devastation around the mountain, down the Black River valley and at Johnson Shut Ins. The pictures evoke images of volcanic mudflows in how the flood stripped the ground to the rocks/

Meanwhile according to the Daily Journal

Three-year-old Tara Toops and her 7-month-old brother Tucker were discharged from Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, hospital spokesman Bob Davidson said. Another sibling, 5-year-old Tanner, remains in critical condition at the hospital.

A trust fund has been set up for the park superintendent’s family at First State Community Bank.

Cash donations can be made there. Other donations may be handled by calling Rodney at 573-546-7233 or 701-7901.

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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

December 21st, 2005, 3:48 pm #8

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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

December 27th, 2005, 11:10 pm #9

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/s ... enDocument
Dam failure releases wall of water in SE Missouri
Compiled from news sources
12/14/2005

LESTERVILLE, Mo. -- Water poured through a breach at a hydroelectric plant's rural reservoir in southeast Missouri this morning, washing away an unknown number of homes and vehicles, authorities said.

The breach occurred about 5:30 a.m. in the upper of two reservoirs at AmerenUE's Taum Sauk Lake Hydroelectric Plant, AmerenUE officials said.

One person had been feared missing but was later accounted for, authorities said.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was investigating the cause of the breach. AmerenUE officials said there was no sign of foul play. The reservoir sits near the New Madrid Fault Line, which often generates small earthquakes, but Gov. Matt Blunt said no seismic activity occurred Wednesday morning.
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The Rev. Bill Jackson said Jerry and Lisa Tubes and their three young children were rescued some time after dawn from several locations in Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park, where Jerry Tubes is superintendent. Jackson said floodwater destroyed the family’s home, which was near the park campground.

All five were taken to Reynolds County Memorial Hospital in Ellington, south of Lesterville. Jackson said two of the children were being taken by ambulance to hospitals in St. Louis. He didn’t know their conditions, but said all five family members had suffered from exposure.

“The water collapsed the house around them, and they just floated out,” said Jackson, who was with the family in the hospital. “Jerry was in a cedar tree when the rescuers found him. He was cold and has a lot of bruises. Lisa had two of the kids with her. I don’t know where the rescuers found the others.

“They are very, very grateful,” Jackson said. “It’s a miracle. Can you imagine your house being swept away at a time like that?

Air temperatures were in the mid 30s when the dam broke. The Tubes’ children range from five years to six months. The two older children, a boy and a girl, were transferred to St. Louis, and the baby -- a boy -- remained with his parents in the Reynolds hospital.

The Shut-Ins is downstream on the Black River from the AmerenUE upper reservoir.

National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Pedigo said rain was not a factor in the break. The region received only about one-tenth of an inch of rain overnight, he said.

Conditions along the Black River, where the plant is situated, were considered dangerous, the National Weather Service said.

The plant, built in 1963, is in the Ozarks, about 120 miles southwest of St. Louis.

"The Lesterville area and areas south along the Black River are in extreme peril," said Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Marty Elmore. "We need to make every effort to have folks get to higher ground."

Pedigo said rescue teams searched for people believed to be trapped in cars, especially along Highway N near the reservoir shortly after the breach. Pedigo said a house, a mobile home, several cars and a tractor-trailer were reported washed away.

The town of Lesterville, with about 150 residents, was under a voluntary evacuation order, said Reynolds County emergency management director Terry Sanders. She didn't know how many people were forced out of their homes. "We're so small we don't have population signs," she said.

Reynolds County has about 6,700 residents.

Officials at AmerenUE, a utility based in St. Louis, said the breach occurred at the northwest corner of the reservoir that holds back 1.5 billion gallons of water from the Black River.

"A number of AmerenUE engineers and specialists are investigating the incident; clearly, public safety is our top concern," said plant superintendent Rick Cooper.

AmerenUE spokeswoman Susan Gallagher said it wasn't immediately clear how much water escaped. She said crews were hustling to the scene to try and fix the breach.

Gallagher said the plant has four chief features: the upper reservoir atop Proffit Mountain, a 7,000-foot-long shaft and tunnel, a powerhouse with two reversible pump turbine units and a lower reservoir formed by a dam across the Black River's east fork.

During times of peak demand for electricity, water -- released from the upper reservoir -- rushes down the shaft and through the tunnel. As it passes through the powerhouse, the water spins the turbines to generate electricity, then is retained in the lower reservoir.

Blunt said the lower reservoir was holding, though it was retaining more water than normal. He said there was concern that if the lower reservoir succumbs, massive amounts of water could surge downstream

Taum Sauk State Park Superintendent Jerry Toops gave his first press conference after a billion gallons of water from Ameron’s pumped storage facility washed away his home and children.

Toops said he immediately knew there had been a disaster at the reservoir when he heard the roar that sounded like countless F15 jets. The wall of water totally obliterated their home shortly after 5 a.m. leaving only the foundation.

The interview was picked up by news sources throughout the country.

According to KDSK:

Last Wednesday, Jerry Toops heard his wife screaming for them to get out of their home located in the Johnson Shut-Ins State Park.

Then he heard a very loud, very unusual sound. “As soon as I got to my feet, the wall of water hit and I liken it to a head-on collision. It just ripped the room apart. One minute I’m standing on the floor and then I’m rolling around with the dresser and the bed and then waters’ on top of me,” he said.
…
Lisa says, “It seemed like it was slowly rising. But it took about all of ten seconds to completely fill the room. It rose up our legs and I told Tanner, hold your breath. And the water came up and we were under water.”

And Jerry Toops said, “When I came to the top, I swam to the roof of our house. And I swam to the roof of our house and got on top of it and I knelt down and prayed. I prayed that they would be alright.”

The family was separated. Jerry ended up in a tree. Lisa Toops had two of her three children with her; 5-year old Tanner and 7-month old Tucker

The Toops said they prayed and that it was a miracle they survived.

Tanner remains hospitalized in St. Louis for burns he suffered after being rescued apparently from improper handling of the hypothermic situation.

Since this is a mountaineering website I will repeat that advice about hypothermia first aid which is counter intuitive.

Rewarming of Frostbite

Rewarming is accomplished by immersion of the effected part into a water bath of 105 - 110 degrees F. No hotter or additional damage will result. This is the temperature which is warm to your skin. Monitor the temperature carefully with a thermometer. Remove constricting clothing. Place the appendage in the water and continue to monitor the water temperature. This temperature will drop so that additional warm water will need to be added to maintain the 105 - 110 degrees. Do not add this warm water directly to the injury. The water will need to be circulated fairly constantly to maintain even temperature. The effected appendage should be immersed for 25 - 40 minutes. Thawing is complete when the part is pliable and color and sensation has returned. Once the area is rewarmed, there can be significant pain. Discontinue the warm water bath when thawing is complete.
Do not use dry heat to rewarm. It cannot be effectively maintained at 105 - 110 degrees and can cause burns further damaging the tissues.
Once rewarming is complete the injured area should be wrapped in sterile gauze and protected from movement and further cold.
Once a body part has been rewarmed it cannot be used for anything. Also it is essential that the part can be kept from refreezing. Refreezing after rewarming causes extensive tissue damage and may result in loss of tissue. If you cannot guarantee that the tissue will stay warm, do not rewarm it. Mountaineers have walked out on frozen feet to have them rewarmed after getting out with no tissue loss. Once the tissue is frozen the major harm has been done. Keeping it frozen will not cause significant additional damage.

KDSK Story
KDSK Video of the Interview
KDSK Helicopter of the Damage
KDSK Photo Gallery

Princeton University Page on Hypothermia

In other news:
Taum Sauk benefit raises $4,400: Four hundred crowd into cafeteria for spaghetti dinner to help Toops family

An estimated 400 people crowded into the cafeteria at the Lesterville school campus. School staff had to open two rooms to accommodate the crowd. Santa and Mrs. Claus showed up to help raise money, and Friends Pickin’, a bluegrass band from Ellington, entertained.

By the end of the evening, donations from the dinner had exceeded $4,400, volunteer Sue Black said.

The dinner, organized by State Sen. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, and State Rep. J.C. Kuessner, D-Eminence, was one of several attempts to help the family. A fund at Sun Security Bank in Lesterville has raised more than $10,000, including a $5,000 donation from Wal-Mart, Engler said.

A separate fund at First State Community Bank of Ironton has received donations, but the bank would not say how much has been collected.

“The money is theirs as soon as they get back to town,” Black said.

In addition, Lesterville’s First Baptist Church has offered to house the family in its parsonage at no charge. Although Jerry Toops has been promoted and is scheduled for transfer next month, Lisa Toops plans to stay in Lesterville through the end of the school year, said Tina Mathes, Tanner’s and Tera’s preschool teacher. The couple already knew of Jerry Toop’s promotion and transfer when the dam broke, she added.

Jerry and Lisa Toops plan to stay in St. Louis another week to be with 5-year-old Tanner at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, Mathes said. The couple’s other children - Tara, 3, and Tucker, 7 months - were released from the hospital on Sunday.

Third plan issued for Taum Sauk recovery efforts: Stabilizing sediment, dealing with debris are priorities in restoration plan

Blunt told AmerenUE to move forward on debris and sediment removal and to monitor for impacts to water quality in the Black River.

The utility company is working with state and federal agencies to assess the damage and make repairs. Stabilizing sediment at the site and dealing with debris that dammed the Black River and changed its flow are two priorities in the restoration plan.

“While the State of Missouri is in no way responsible for this incident, we are responsible for ensuring that citizens in the area are safe and the environment,” Blunt said in a news release from his office. “We are taking a very close and careful look at the restoration activities to ensure the Black River and Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park are protected.”

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has expedited its efforts to restore the natural and cultural resources of the state park and the river. Director Doyle Childers hopes to have some services available at the park this summer.

DNR issues Taum Sauk cleanup order: River trying to reroute, 1800s cemetery full of debris

There is also a cemetery near the park office that DNR wants AmerenUE to clean up. Debris has washed up in the cemetery, which has graves from the early 1800s.

Mike Wells, deputy director of DNR, said their biggest goal right now is to stabilize Johnson’s Shut-Ins, which sustained the most damage, and Black River. He said so far AmerenUE has been very cooperative.

“There is a lot of sediment being delivered into the river,” Wells said.

Wells said a large part of the channel is completely choked with sediment. He said the river is trying to reroute.

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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

December 29th, 2005, 4:29 pm #10

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/s ... enDocument
Dam failure releases wall of water in SE Missouri
Compiled from news sources
12/14/2005

LESTERVILLE, Mo. -- Water poured through a breach at a hydroelectric plant's rural reservoir in southeast Missouri this morning, washing away an unknown number of homes and vehicles, authorities said.

The breach occurred about 5:30 a.m. in the upper of two reservoirs at AmerenUE's Taum Sauk Lake Hydroelectric Plant, AmerenUE officials said.

One person had been feared missing but was later accounted for, authorities said.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was investigating the cause of the breach. AmerenUE officials said there was no sign of foul play. The reservoir sits near the New Madrid Fault Line, which often generates small earthquakes, but Gov. Matt Blunt said no seismic activity occurred Wednesday morning.
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The Rev. Bill Jackson said Jerry and Lisa Tubes and their three young children were rescued some time after dawn from several locations in Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park, where Jerry Tubes is superintendent. Jackson said floodwater destroyed the family’s home, which was near the park campground.

All five were taken to Reynolds County Memorial Hospital in Ellington, south of Lesterville. Jackson said two of the children were being taken by ambulance to hospitals in St. Louis. He didn’t know their conditions, but said all five family members had suffered from exposure.

“The water collapsed the house around them, and they just floated out,” said Jackson, who was with the family in the hospital. “Jerry was in a cedar tree when the rescuers found him. He was cold and has a lot of bruises. Lisa had two of the kids with her. I don’t know where the rescuers found the others.

“They are very, very grateful,” Jackson said. “It’s a miracle. Can you imagine your house being swept away at a time like that?

Air temperatures were in the mid 30s when the dam broke. The Tubes’ children range from five years to six months. The two older children, a boy and a girl, were transferred to St. Louis, and the baby -- a boy -- remained with his parents in the Reynolds hospital.

The Shut-Ins is downstream on the Black River from the AmerenUE upper reservoir.

National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Pedigo said rain was not a factor in the break. The region received only about one-tenth of an inch of rain overnight, he said.

Conditions along the Black River, where the plant is situated, were considered dangerous, the National Weather Service said.

The plant, built in 1963, is in the Ozarks, about 120 miles southwest of St. Louis.

"The Lesterville area and areas south along the Black River are in extreme peril," said Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Marty Elmore. "We need to make every effort to have folks get to higher ground."

Pedigo said rescue teams searched for people believed to be trapped in cars, especially along Highway N near the reservoir shortly after the breach. Pedigo said a house, a mobile home, several cars and a tractor-trailer were reported washed away.

The town of Lesterville, with about 150 residents, was under a voluntary evacuation order, said Reynolds County emergency management director Terry Sanders. She didn't know how many people were forced out of their homes. "We're so small we don't have population signs," she said.

Reynolds County has about 6,700 residents.

Officials at AmerenUE, a utility based in St. Louis, said the breach occurred at the northwest corner of the reservoir that holds back 1.5 billion gallons of water from the Black River.

"A number of AmerenUE engineers and specialists are investigating the incident; clearly, public safety is our top concern," said plant superintendent Rick Cooper.

AmerenUE spokeswoman Susan Gallagher said it wasn't immediately clear how much water escaped. She said crews were hustling to the scene to try and fix the breach.

Gallagher said the plant has four chief features: the upper reservoir atop Proffit Mountain, a 7,000-foot-long shaft and tunnel, a powerhouse with two reversible pump turbine units and a lower reservoir formed by a dam across the Black River's east fork.

During times of peak demand for electricity, water -- released from the upper reservoir -- rushes down the shaft and through the tunnel. As it passes through the powerhouse, the water spins the turbines to generate electricity, then is retained in the lower reservoir.

Blunt said the lower reservoir was holding, though it was retaining more water than normal. He said there was concern that if the lower reservoir succumbs, massive amounts of water could surge downstream

The Columbia Tribune has this cartoon in its December 18, 2005
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