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Fifth Straight Night of Storms For St. Louis Area

By AP/KWMU

St. Louis, MO – The St. Louis area endured its fifth straight night of severe weather Thursday night.

The National Weather Service says a weak tornado touched down about 60 miles west of St. Louis, in the town of Jonesburg.

The deputy fire chief in Jonesburg, David Gaines, says the storm could have been a lot worse and there was enough warning from the Weather Service.

He says that might explain why no one was hurt in a town that has no warning sirens. "A lot of our communitiy listens to the police and fire scanners. So when alarms go out for us, oftentimes other folks are hearing it and can pass the information along fairly quickly."

There were also reports of tornados near Arnold and a possible tornado southeast of De Soto.

Fox School District associate superintendent Vicki Hanson says officials stopped a graduation ceremony at the football field just after it began to move people inside.

"At first people thought maybe it was premature. But then it got really dark and the winds picked up very very quickly. And we did get everyone in safely to Fox Senior High."

The chairs and stage that were set up for the ceremony in Arnold were later blown over by the storm. Graduation re-started at about 9:15 in the school auditorium.

Very heavy rains and flash floods hit the entire area. About 13,000 Ameren customers were still without power Friday morning, though that's down from a peak of 30,000. About 2,000 Illinois Power customers in the Metro-East were in the dark, as well.

Gaines, the deputy fire chief in Jonesburg says the storm was not nearly as destructive as those that hit recently in Nebraska, or even as bad as in Jonesburg.

"I've seen probably worse damage, but not as spread out as this damage it. It stretches probably a good mile or so, but I've been told by some of the old timers here that this is nothing compared to what happened many decades ago."

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