Cleanup Continues After Severe Weather Sweeps Through St. Louis Area | St. Louis Public Radio

Cleanup Continues After Severe Weather Sweeps Through St. Louis Area

Apr 11, 2013

Update on Saturday, April 13 at 1:15 p.m. 

The cleanup effort in Hazelwood continues this weekend, days after the suburb was hit by a vicious spring storm that uprooted trees and destroyed homes. 

About 150 faculty and staff members of the Hazelwood School District fanned out into neighborhoods on Saturday, checking up on residents and passing along information and resources.   Staff is also collecting food and supply donations this weekend.

District Spokesperson, Diana Gulotta, says students at up to one third of the district’s schools have been impacted by the storm.

“We know that if you’re in a tornado, that’s traumatic, if you’re displaced, that’s traumatic,” Gulotta says.  “We want to provide that counseling piece, and we’re doing that already. If we need to provide extra support with that academic piece, we can do that too.  Through tutoring or whatever we need to do.”

Donations will be collected from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at The Learning Center, located at 15955 New Halls Ferry Road in Florissant, Mo.  Gulotta says in addition to food and school supplies, cell phone chargers for cars are especially needed.          

Updated 3:55 p.m.

Clean-up continues today in St. Louis area neighborhoods slammed by storms last night. Hazelwood was among the hardest hit. Trees were downed and property was damaged by what is believed to be a tornado.

Although there were no serious injuries during the storm, an Ameren worker died while restoring power. Apartment complexes and dozens of houses were pummeled - several of the homes had trees crushing their roofs.

Governor Jay Nixon, who declared a state of emergency, toured the damage Thursday afternoon.

"I mean, homes were destroyed," Nixon said. "Lives were changed forever. When you're in situations like this, a few short minutes of indiscriminate nature of mother nature puts tornados through the area. Many people are homeless, obviously open up shelters."

Ameren estimates that there are more than 15 thousand still without power, as of late Thursday afternoon.

The Red Cross had to relocate to the Civic Center after the previous location - an elementary school - lost power.

In addition to the power loss, numerous homes had trees collapse on them and an apartment complex is now uninhabitable.

Nixon said the top priority is restoring power and keeping people safe.

"That's why you're going to see a significant law enforcement presence in the area to make sure the area is kept secure so that the people whose homes are involved have the basic human dignity to find their own property that's strewn about the neighborhoods," Nixon said.

Nixon added that the National Guard has not been called in, but stand at the ready.

Updated at 9:55 a.m. with latest information from the city, Ameren. Again at 12:10 p.m.

Mayor Francis Slay's office says 30 structures - mostly garages and sheds - were damaged in an area roughly bounded by Southwest, Columbia, Hampton and Pearl avenues, just north of Sublette Park. The Parks department received nine calls about downed trees and limbs. 

Streets and alleyways in the city should be cleared by this afternoon. The city will empty trash containers today and do a bulk pick-up tomorrow.

Around 10 a.m., about 2,100 Ameren Illinois customers remained without power, mostly concentrated in areas around Alton and Godfrey. About 16,000 customers in Missouri were without power - the bulk of those in Maryland Heights, Florissant and Hazelwood.

Our original story:

A nasty spring storm ripped through the region last night.

In Sullivan, it produced straight-line wind speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour.

The Hazelwood area appears to have experienced the worst damage.

The storm knocked over trees and power lines there, damaging several homes and buildings.  No fatalities were reported. 

Scott Truett is a senior forecaster for the National Weather Service and says the storm system began picking up speed in central Missouri.

“The really big event for tonight got going in the Columbia, Jefferson City areas early Wednesday evening," Truett says.  "A thunderstorm cluster kind of developed into a fast moving line.  It produced a lot of straight line wind damage all the way from mid-Missouri, through the St. Louis metro area on through central Illinois.”

Truett says the storm may have produced three small tornados, but nothing could be confirmed until they survey the area this morning.

The system knocked out power for more than 40,000 Ameren Missouri customers, and around 3,000 customers in Illinois. 

Mo. Gov. Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency, and plans to tour the worst hit areas today.