Taum Sauk Park Supt. Jerry Toops on the Roar, the Miracle and Dealing with Hypothermia Burning


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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