© 2023 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Mayor says New Year's Eve tornado victims still suffering, less noticed

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 20, 2011 - St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay sought to remind the public today of another tornado that also inflicted damage in St. Louis but attracted less attention -- or government assistance.

The mayor held a news conference this afternoon to outline aid, notably for home repairs, available to victims of the New Year's Eve tornadoes that struck some neighborhoods in north St. Louis as well as in Sunset Hills  in St. Louis County.

According to the National Weather Service, 12 tornadoes struck various parts of eastern Missouri that day. 

The mayor's office concurs in its release that "the New Year's Eve tornado was certainly not the worst tornado our state has seen in the past year -- but its damage has created a hardship for residents. Mayor Slay is committed to helping victims of that tornado and will announce important home repair funding that will be made available to qualified residents."

In his annoucement, Slay said that he is planning a $1 million package for home repairs to help rebuild neighborhoods damaged by the Dec. 31 tornado.

"The number of homes damaged was not enough to attract federal disaster relief," Slay said,  "So, we have to do this ourselves."

About 150 homes were damaged, with 90 of them owner-occupied. Only owner-occupied houses will be eligible for the aid.

Slay plans to ask the city's Board of Estimate and Apportionment, the chief fiscal body, "to allocate $500,000 from the Major Initiatives Fund in the federal Community Development Block Grant. About $4 million in the fund is for projects that either are not ready to be built, or don't need the money immediately."

Gov. Jay Nixon, said the mayor, "has agreed to match that from disaster relief funds available through the Missouri Department of Economic Development."

The affected neighborhoods includes Lewis Place, which Slay's staff notes "is on the National Register for Historic Places because of its architecture and its history. Between 1910 and 1945, Lewis Place barred African-Americans from certain streets with the use of restrictive covenants. A group of determined African-Americans fought the covenants and eventually won a landmark legal case."

According to the mayor's office, the aid will be available to homeowners who make no more than 80 percent of the median income and are up to date on their property taxes.

"Because of limits on funding and federal rules, the priority will be repairs that have yet to be made, or were only partially completed. There will be a limit of $30,000 per home, except under extraordinary circumstances, " the mayor's office said. "The disaster relief fund will be administered by the City's Community Development Administration with assistance from the Building Division and Department of Human Services."

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.