Tornado

Washington is just starting to rebuild.

Much of the central Illinois town was wiped away by a half-mile-wide tornado in November. In all, 1,108 homes were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable — a huge share of the housing stock in a city of 15,000.

"Early on, people were asking me how long it was going to take to rebuild the city, and I said we'll do it in a year," says Mayor Gary Manier. "That was wishful thinking."

Frank Blau Photography

This is the time of year when we begin to worry about severe weather. From thunderstorms to hail, high winds to tornados, we get more than our share. 

Cindy Shuford and her daughter
Provided by the family

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Cindy Shuford of Washington, Ill., was at church Sunday when word came that a tornado was fast approaching. Taking cover in one of the building’s windowless rooms, Shuford first thought of her 22-year-old daughter, working the deli counter at Kroger.

“I just kept thinking of her, and I wanted to see her face,” Shuford said, in a telephone interview.

The National Weather Service says there were a total of nine tornadoes in the St. Louis region on Friday night.

Tim Lloyd, St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Attorney General's office is warning the public to be on guard against price gouging following last week's round of tornadoes and thunderstorms that pounded the St. Louis area.

Joe Bindbeutel is Chief Counsel of the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division.  He says so far they've received some second-hand reports of price gouging.

(via Wikimedia Commons/FEMA Photo Library)

The National Weather Service has issued a Tornado Watch for St. Louis City and several Missouri counties, including Iron, Jefferson, Madison, St. Charles, St. Francois, St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve and Washington. The Tornado Watch is in effect until 11 a.m.

(UPI/Rick Meyer)

The wife and daughter of man killed inside a Walmart store when a massive tornado hit Joplin are suing.

The Joplin Globe reported that the wrongful death lawsuit names Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and the store's manager as defendants. The case, initially filed in Jasper County Circuit Court, was transferred Friday to federal court.

Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder is asking the State Emergency Management Agency to explain why the St. Louis suburb of Bridgeton has not received $500,000 in FEMA funds to help it recover from the 2011 Good Friday tornado.

Kinder chairs an interim legislative committee on disaster preparedness, response and recovery, which agreed today to give SEMA 48 hours to respond.  

UPI/Paul Newton/The Southern

A February tornado that tore through a section of the southern Illinois town of Harrisburg has claimed an eighth victim.

Saline County's coroner says 74-year-old R. Blaine Mauney of Harrisburg died Thursday at a relative's home of injuries he sustained in the Feb. 29 tornado Feb. 29.

According to authorities, Mauney had been in several hospitals since the tornado that injured about 100 other people.

Mauney's funeral services are pending.

Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

A massive tornado tore through the St. Louis area a year ago this Sunday. Lambert Airport was hit particularly hard, but few signs of the damage remain today.  

Congressman Lacy Clay of St. Louis recalls seeing the airport just hours after the tornado struck on Good Friday.

“Once I got to the airport, I could not believe all of the glass that was blown out of the structure," Clay said. "And then looking at the parking lot: seeing the cars and vans that were on top of each other. It was just amazing.”

(UPI/Steve Jahnke /The Southern)

Harrisburg and other southern Illinois communities affected by a deadly tornado in February are getting up to $13 million in state and Small Business Administration aid.

Gov. Pat Quinn's office announced Monday that the help includes reimbursements to local governments for some of their disaster-related expenses and road improvements. The aid also involves grants for home repairs and low-interest loans to storm-affected businesses.

(UPI/Tom Uhlenbrock)

As of Monday, the National Weather Service will be issuing a new kind of tornado warning in Missouri and Kansas.

The new, more forceful and explicit messages are designed to get attention and drive people to take shelter during dangerous storms.

(Screen Capture via YouTube)

Remember seeing this video? This was what happened to the C Concourse at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport almost a year ago.

The video shows what happened when a tornado ripped through the St. Louis area. The good news? The damaged C Concourse is about to reopen.

(New Orleans Saints Press Kit)

Gregg Williams apologizes

Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is apologizing to the NFL, to St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher, the Rams organization and football fans in general for running a bounty pool while he was in New Orleans.

Williams was suspended indefinitely on Wednesday by the NFL, and the Rams say he'll be eligible for reinstatement after the season.

(via Wikimedia Commons)

At 1:30 p.m. today the entire state of Missouri will hold a tornado drill. So, if you hear warning sirens, don't worry, it's just a drill. However, if you notice any problems, such as malfunctioning alerts or warning sirens, tell us about them here in the comments, on our Facebook page or through Twitter (@stlpublicradio).

Because it's always good to be prepared, here's a website from the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency with more information on tornadoes, including the difference between a tornado warning and a tornado watch, and tips on getting to a safe place no matter where you are when a tornado threatens your area.

UPI/Paul Newton/The Southern

Southern Ill. denied federal disaster aid

The parts of southern Illinois destroyed by deadly storms and a tornado last month will not be declared federal disaster areas.

U.S Senator Dick Durbin says FEMA's decision will make it tough on local government, businesses and individuals affected by the storms.

(UPI/Steve Jahnke /The Southern)

Authorities in southern Illinois say a seventh person has died from injuries suffered in the EF-4 tornado that slammed into the town of Harrisburg on Feb. 29.

Saline County coroner Doug Watson says 70-year-old Donald Smith, a retired coal miner from Harrisburg, died Wednesday night at a hospital in Indiana. Smith's wife remains hospitalized in critical condition.

Most of the victims, including the Smiths, lived along a street that took the brunt of the storm, which authorities say was 200 yards wide and packed sustained winds of 170 miles per hour.

 

 

(UPI/Ryan Dean)

Mo. governor Jay Nixon is seeking federal assistance for 18 Missouri counties hit by last week's violent storms.

Nixon said Wednesday he has requested a federal major disaster declaration for parts of southern and northern Missouri struck by tornadoes, hail and high winds on Feb. 28 and 29. The weather was blamed for three deaths, dozens of injuries and widespread property damage.

(via flickr/ensign_beedrill)

Mo. House member proposes restriction on vasectomies

A Missouri House member frustrated with recent legislative debates over birth control and reproductive health is proposing to restrict vasectomies. 

Legislation sponsored by Democrat Stacey Newman would only allow vasectomies when they are necessary to protect a man from serious injury or death. The vasectomies would have to be performed in a hospital, ambulatory surgery center or health facility licensed by the state Department of Health and Senior Services.

(via Wikimedia Commons)

CVC: Rams do not accept dome proposal

According to a statement from the the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission released this morning, the St. Louis Rams have turned down the CVC's $124 million plan to overhaul the Edwards Jones Dome.

The CVC's plan included adding 1,500 new club seats, installing a massive 96 foot-long scoreboard over the center of the field and adding windows for more natural light.

The CVC says the team "will submit their own proposal to improve the Edward Jones Dome on or before May 1, 2012."

(via Missouri Department of Transportation)

If you have photos of the storms in Harrisburg, Ill. or Branson, Mo., please email web producer Kelsey Proud at kproud@stlpublicradio.org.

Updated 4:22 p.m. with National Weather Service map:

Here's a map released by the National Weather Service of the path of the tornado that roared through Branson. You can track the path of the storm as it gained speed:

(UPI/Caleb Cattivera)

Nixon declares state of emergency for severe storms, possible tornadoes hit southwestern Mo., southern Ill.; at least four confirmed dead

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

Governor Jay Nixon is putting Missouri's athletic organizations to work in helping to rebuild Joplin.

Teaming with the Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity, Nixon is challenging members from the St. Louis Rams and Cardinals among other teams across the state to build 35 houses by June.

 "When people know that these sports teams are coming, and when they see the players and the other folks, it really really helps," said Nixon.

(via Wikimedia Commons)

In response to calls from residents during an actual tornado warning last month, St. Louis County officials have announced that they'll begin a series of re-tests of some of their new tornado sirens on Wednesday.

Any siren location where officials received multiple calls from residents claiming not to have heard the siren will be subject to the re-tests.

The re-tests will occur between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and will be accompanied by "This is only a test" messages at the beginning and end of each activation.

Updated 8:30 a.m: The watches and warnings for the St. Louis area have all expired. Local news stations are reporting that buildings used by Belleville West High School sustained heavy damage, but there are no reports of injuries. There are about 1,400 Ameren Missouri customers in the St. Louis Public Radio listening area without power, but there are no outages reported in the Metro East.

Updated 3:50 a.m.: Tornado Warnings now expired for the majority of the listening area. However, the area is also under a tornado watch until 7 a.m.

Updated 3:29 a.m.: Tornado Warning in effect for Clinton, Monroe, St. Clair, Washington Counties in Illinois until 3:45 a.m. (Monroe removed from this warning at 3:37 a.m.)

Updated 2:44 a.m.: A Tornado Warning is now in effect for St. Louis and Jefferson Counties in Missouri, Monroe County in Illinois until 3:15 a.m.

Updated 2:23 a.m.: Tornado Warning in effect for Franklin, Jefferson, Washington Counties in Missouri until 2:45 a.m.

Updated 1:53 a.m.: A Tornado Warning now in effect in Franklin, Jefferson Counties in Missouri until 2:15 a.m. More info: http://bit.ly/zK1nMe

Attention: The National Weather Service has issued a Tornado Watch for the St. Louis area. The watches (in Missouri and Illinois) both expire at 7 a.m.

(via Wikimedia Commons/FEMA Photo Library)

St. Louis County will be re-testing some of its tornado sirens this week.

The county has already tested the new omni-directional, solar-powered warning system twice since Labor Day.

But a spokesman for the county’s Department of Highways and Traffic and Public Works, David Wrone, says residents living near 18 of the sirens haven’t been able to hear them.

Joseph Leahy

A year after one of the worst winters in decades, emergency officials say St. Louis is prepared for more severe weather. City and county officials were briefed Thursday on the American Red Cross's preparations at its national disaster warehouse in north St. Louis.

Mary Anderson, the Red Cross' regional director of disaster services says since last year's devastating tornados that struck Missouri, the Red Cross is making space in the 100,000 square-foot facility for more supplies.

(Screen Capture via YouTube)

Officials at Lambert Airport are hoping to reopen the C Concourse in April - about one year after the concourse was severely damaged in a Good Friday tornado. The April date is consistent with the projected timeframe we reported in October.

Remember seeing this video? That was the C Concourse.

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

One year ago tomorrow a rare winter tornado tore through the St. Louis County suburb of Sunset Hills. Since then residents who could repair their homes have moved on, but as St. Louis Public Radio’s Joseph Leahy reports, those who lost everything are still battling city hall for the future of the neighborhood.

(Adam Allington/St. Louis Public Radio)

Nearly a year after a tornado damaged 91 homes in the area, residents of the Lewis Place neighborhood in north St. Louis are getting some help from the state of Missouri.

The Board of Aldermen on Friday voted to accept $500,000 in state disaster assistance. The city's required $500,000 match came from community development funds. Mayor Francis Slay will sign the measure as soon as he can.

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