Severe weather
9:47 pm
Fri April 22, 2011

Clean-up efforts continue following weekend storms

Resources:

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has released information to help those recovering avoid a "storm chasers" scam

Metro Transit is providing access to public transit to St. Louis County residents whose vehicles are buried under debris.  Metro Transit travels the affected communities and will help tornado victims get  to where they need to go via MetroBus and MetroLink. For more information, see this link.

To report power outages to Ameren, call 1-800-552-7583 (and you can see current listings of power outages).

Red Cross shelter and assistance information (Update: Maryland Heights shelter closing, supplies still available in Dellwood).

American Red Cross will be offering clean-up items from a fixed location at the Dellwood Recreation Center. See this link for more information.

Catholic Charities is accepting donations and providing assistance as well: call 314-367-5500

Missourians who need disaster information, shelter information or referrals are urged to call 211. The 211 service number is now available for most areas in Missouri. In areas where the 211 number is not operational, citizens can call 800-427-4626. 

People in St. Louis County who need assistance or want to volunteer can call 314-615-5000.

Lambert Airport list of airlines with contact information

From Mayor Slay via Twitter: For city residents, use @stlsb to report storm damage in your neighborhood.

 

Updates:

Updated 4:59 p.m. April 28:

Via the Associated Press:

St. Louis area residents and businesses have filed about 7,000 insurance claims for damage to their buildings and vehicles from last week's tornadoes.

The Missouri insurance department says major insurers have reported receiving 4,490 homeowners claims, 2,245 auto insurance claims, 240 commercial property claims and 137 claims for buildings with large or total losses.

The statistics were reported by insurance companies that make up more than 85 percent of Missouri's homeowners insurance market.

Several tornadoes hit the St. Louis area last Friday.

Updated 1:27 p.m. April 26:

The National Weather Service says five separate tornadoes touched down in eastern Missouri on Good Friday.

The weather service said Tuesday that one supercell produced three tornadoes - one near New Melle, another through St. Louis and Madison counties and north St. Louis City, and the third in Madison, Clinton and Bond counties.

Another supercell produced tornadoes in Monroe County and St. Clair County.

Updated 1:05 p.m. April 26:

Via a press release from Ameren:

Ameren Missouri has restored power to essentially all customers impacted by outages resulting from Friday’s severe storm. As of 11 a.m. less than 100 storm-related power outages remain.

The company is deactivating its Emergency Operations Center, the headquarters for the utility's statewide storm restoration effort; however, the final stages of power restoration efforts and cleanup work will continue throughout the day.

Updated 4:25 p.m. April 25:

Via a press release from U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis:

FEMA’s emergency assessment teams will on the ground later today, and the preliminary damage assessments will begin tomorrow in St. Louis County, at Lambert St. Louis International Airport and in St. Charles County.

These assessment teams will be staffed jointly by federal, state and local officials…and their mission will be to assess damage to homes and businesses, and damage to infrastructure…such as the airport, roads, bridges, etc.

This FEMA assessment is the key first step in helping Governor Nixon compile his request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration.

Updated 4:27 p.m. April 25:

Ameren Missouri has announced that power may be coming back soon for the majority of those affected by the storm:

As of 3 p.m. today, approximately 7,200 customers are without power, which is less than one-half of one percent of the company’s 1.2 million customers. Nearly all of the Ameren Missouri customers without power due to Friday’s storm will have power restored by the end of today.

“While we are committed to restoring power in a timely manner for all customers, there will be a few remaining individuals whose power cannot be restored safely until they make repairs to their own equipment,” explains Richard Mark, Ameren Missouri senior vice president of Customer Operations.

Field checkers are leaving information at the homes of customers who will need to make repairs to the service entrance equipment they own. This equipment includes the riser pipe, weatherhead, service entrance pipe and meter box. Information regarding these devices can be found at AmerenMissouri.com/Outage.

Several hundred homes have been identified as needing the customer to make repairs to equipment they own in order for power to be restored safely. Customers with damaged service entrance equipment should take the following steps to restore service to their home or building.

1.     Contact a qualified electrician to complete repairs of their service entrance equipment.

2.     When repairs are complete, contact the St. Louis County inspection authority at 314.615.3722 to secure an electrical inspection.

3.     Once the inspection is complete, contact Ameren Missouri at 1.800.552.7583 to place a request to reconnect service.

If homeowners suspect that their service entrance equipment is damaged, they should call their electrician and avoid touching the equipment.

Updated 1:59 p.m. April 25:

Via the Associated Press:

  • Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has given the go-ahead to waive some state regulations as part of the cleanup from the tornado that hit the St. Louis area late last week.
  • Nixon's executive order Monday allows state rules to be temporarily suspended from now until May 23 as a matter of public health and safety intended to aid the quick removal of debris.
  • The governor's office says the order is similar to ones issued after previous natural disasters. Those have given the director of the Department of Natural Resources the discretion to decide which rules to waive.

Updated 9:30  a.m. April 25:

Via the @flystl (Lambert International Airport) Twitter account: "Monday morning and passengers are flowing through @flystl. Sunday flight capacity was 76% with an anticipated 90% today..moving right along."

Updated at 6:30 p.m. April 24 with latest information from airport and county officials:

  • Lambert Airport could be operating at 100 percent capacity by Wednesday. Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge says as of 3:30 p.m. Sunday, about 100 flights had landed out of the usual 230, and she was confident that the airport would hit 70 percent of capacity by the end of the day. She calls the recovery "amazing."
  • The four airlines that usually used the C Concourse have been relocated to other gates. Frontier and AirTran will operate from the B Concourse, and American Airlines and CapeAir will operate from the D Concourse. Hamm-Niebruegge says that should reduce the economic impact because flights will be landing even though the C Concourse is closed indefinitely. Southwest Airlines was operating a full flight schedule by Sunday.
  • The airport is structurally sound, and there were no problems with pipelines at the fuel farm or with security during the power outages. Hamm-Niebruegge says insurance should cover most of the damages, and officials will be looking for state and federal assistance.
  • As of 4 p.m. Sunday, St. Louis County had tallied 1,627 damaged homes. Of those, 839 were totally destroyed, 568 suffered structural damage, and 220 suffered minor damage.
  • The National Weather Service says the Good Friday tornado stayed on the ground for 22 miles. The agency has also confirmed a second tornado, in St. Charles County.
  • As of 6:30 p.m., about 12,000 Ameren Missouri customers remained without power. At its peak, 47,000 people were without electricity.

Updated with information about temporary gate assignments at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport:

  • Lambert will have about a 60 percent flight schedule on Sunday. Call your airline for more information.
  • Terminal 2 (Southwest and others) and the A&B concourses of Terminal 1 are fully operational. Concourse C remains closed because of extensive storm damage.
  • Frontier and AirTran are operating out of the B Concourse. Frontier will use gate B10. AirTran will arrive and depart from gate B12.
  • American Airlines and CapeAir will operate from gates at the closed D Concourse. The gates can be accessed through the C Concourse checkpoint.
  • American will start flights Monday morning and operate from gates D2, D4 and D6.
  • CapeAir will resume flights Tuesday morning and operate from gates D8 and D10.

From the AP, on storm damage in the Metro East:

  • Madison County sheriff Robert Hertz says more than 100 homes were damaged, about a dozen severely. There were no serious injuries reported.
  • Most of the damage was concentrated in a one-square-mile area between Granite City and Pontoon Beach.
  • As of 12:30 p.m. Sunday, about 2,400 homes statewide remained without power in Illinois. Less than 50 of those are in the Metro East. In Missouri, about 17,000 customers are still without power. 

Updated at 8:15 a.m. April 24

  • Ameren Missouri says as of 6 a.m., about 20,000 customers remained without power. The utility estimates more than 1,000 utility poles suffered damage in the storm. Company officials expect restoration efforts to take at least another 72 hours. There are about 2,000 linemen assisting in the effort. The company is reminding people to stay away from downed power lines, and to call Ameren at 1-800-552-7538, or 911 if you see a downed line.
  • The website of the Federal Aviation Administration lists Lambert Airport as open with few delays, but officials are recommending calling your airline first.  

Updated 4:50 p.m. April 23 following press conference with local officials:

  • Gov. Jay Nixon says President Obama has called and offered the full resources of the federal government to assist with cleanup, especially at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has already begun preliminary surveys. Nixon calls it the longest damage tail he has ever seen personally. He says it is "absolutely amazing" that there were no fatalities.
  • St. Louis County executive Charlie Dooley says officials from St. Charles, Jefferson and Madison counties have already offered assistance. Damage was concentrated in nine municipalities, mostly in North County. It appears 750 homes have been damaged.
  • Ameren CEO Tom Voss says 1,000 linemen mobilized immediately after the storm, and 1,000 more are on their way. There were 47,000 customers without power at the peak of the outage. Voss says at least some power should be restored to Lambert Airport tonight, and most other customers should have their power back in two days, though it may take longer in some areas with severe damage.

Airport director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge says about 10 flights should arrive at Lambert after 5 p.m. this evening. Departures will resume tomorrow morning.

  • Terminal 2 (Southwest and others) will be fully functional (both arrivals and departuers) tomorrow. Terminal 1 service will be more limited. "It won't be the prettiest, but it will be functional," Hamm-Niebruegge says of the airport.
  • MetroLink service to the airport will resume April 24th at 4:30 a.m. Officials are urging people to use mass transit if possible as there are many damaged cars still in airport parking lots. Passengers with cars at the airport will be able to exit without charge for a few days.
  • Hamm-Niebruegge says one pipeline from the airport fuel farm suffered damage in the storm. Officials must wait for power to be restored to test a second pipeline for damage. They are making contingency plans to bring in additional tanker trucks.
  • Five people at Lambert  when the storm hit were transported to local hospitals. Three were in the terminal, two were in a vehicle. All were treated and released. Twelve others were treated for minor injuries at the terminal. Six airplanes suffered some damage, with an American Airlines 757 the hardest hit.
  • Four survey teams from the National Weather Service have been on the ground since this morning. At this moment, it appears that one tornado may have touched down four times. At its strongest, in Bridgeton, the tornado was ranked an EF4 on a scale from 0-5. The twister was the strongest to hit the metro area since 1967, when there were more than 200 injures and three fatalities. Weather Service meteorologists attribute the lack of serious injury for this storm to a 34-minute lead time.
  • All major roads in the area have re-opened, though smaller roads in and out of the hardest-hit areas remain closed. Officials are asking people to stay away from those areas to allow crews to do their work.

Update 4:17 p.m. April 23:

The National Weather Service is now saying in a preliminary report that the tornado which hit the airport was an EF4.

Via the Associated Press:

The National Weather Service says a tornado that socked St. Louis' Lambert Airport and nearby suburbs was at least an EF3 on the tornado-strength scale and followed an eerily similar path as a devastating 1967 twister than left an estimated $15 million damage.

Meteorologist Scott Truett says survey crews with the weather service's office near St. Louis are still assessing the twister that barreled through the area Friday night, closing Lambert Airport and sending five people to the hospital.

An EF3 tornado carries wind speeds of 136 to 165 mph.

The weather service say the 1967 twister measuring EF4 - with peak winds up to 200 mph - ripped a 21-mile-long path of destruction across St. Louis County, killing three people and injuring more than 200 others.

Following 10 a.m. press conference on April 23 with local officials:

Mayor Slay says that they are working on getting the airport up to 70 percent capacity by tomorrow and 100 percent by the middle of next week. 

Congressman Lacy Clay says he has reached out to President Obama and will be briefing Obama on the situation later today.

See earlier updates by clicking "Read More"

Update 8:45 a.m. April 23: Lambert-St. Louis International Airport remains closed indefinitely.  St. Charles Rock Road between Fee Fee and Interstate 270 is closed in both directions because of downed power lines. The interstates that were closed last night are now open.

Update 12:30 a.m. April 23:  The Red Cross has opened a shelter at the Maryland Heights Community Center on McKelvey Rd. McCluer High School at 1896 S. Florissant is also being used as a shelter.

Update 12:15 a.m. April 23: Mo. Gov. Nixon declares state of emergency in response to severe storms, including tornadoes, across Missouri

From Mayor Francis Slay, via Twitter at 11:50 p.m.: Just spoke with Gov. Nixon. He and his public safety team are working on disaster declaration papers. 

Update: Both directions of Interstate 270 are now open. Interstate 70 remains closed.

As of 11:40, the southbound lanes of Interstate 270 between Dorsett and McKelvey had re-opened. The northbound lanes in that same location remained closed, as did both directions of Interstate 70 between Lindbergh and St. Charles Rock Road due to downed power lines.

Updated at 11:10 p.m. with information from Lambert press conference.

Airport police chief Paul Mason says the airport's access control systems are working despite the power loss. The airport's private security contractor, as well as the Transportation Safety Administration, provided additional people to patrol out buildings and the airport's perimeter. St. Louis County police will handle traffic control on roads in and around the airport.

Airport director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge says the airlines do not believe there was any damage to the airplanes. She says the storm blew out 50 percent of the windows in Terminal 1. Four people were transported to area hospitals with minor injuries, and others were treated for cuts and scrapes at the airport.

Officials in Madison County, IL are reporting damage but no injuries just outside Granite City along Maryville Road.

A tornado warning is in effect for Monroe and St. Clair counties in Illinois until 11:15 p.m.

Updated 10:30 p.m. with more road closures and Red Cross information.

Interstate 70 is closed in both directions between Natural Bridge and St. Charles Rock Road due to downed power lines. Along that stretch of highway is an overturned tractor trailer leaking fuel.

A spokeswoman with the American Red Cross says the agency has not yet opened emergency shelters but remains ready to do so if needed. Anyone needing assistance can call the emergency hotline at 314-516-2700.

Updated at 10 p.m. with road and airport closure information.

As of 8:54 p.m., Lambert St. Louis-International Airport was closed indefinitely because of tornado damage

The Missouri Department of Transportation says Interstate 270 is closed in both directions between Dorsett and McKelvey because of a power line down across the highway. MoDOT says the closure could last for four hours. Some other roads in low-lying areas are also closing because of floods.

Will continue to update with additional reports.

For the second time this week, severe weather has pummeled the St. Louis area.

Officials at Lambert St. Louis-International Airport reported a tornado near the airport, and pictures and video on local TV stations show damage outside and possibly inside the buildings. A report from CNN says some injuries were reported.

News reports seem to show much of the damage centered in North County. A police dispatcher in Maryland Heights says the department is dealing with gas leaks and wires down, but no reports of major injuries. A dispatcher at the Ferguson Police Department said they were "swamped" with calls from residents. 

A spokeswoman for Mayor Francis Slay says city emergency officials received no reports of damage from the storms. The police department at the University of Missouri-St. Louis says power remains out in some parts of the campus, but officials had not received any reports of damage.

Ameren Missouri reported 43,000 customers without power as of 9:10 pm Friday night. Much of that was in North County.

The AP also received unconfirmed reports of tornadoes in Dardenne Praire and New Melle areas, in St. Charles County. Residents of Warren County reported large hail.