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St. Louis expresses relief after storm hits

Debris is strewn about a neighborhood Saturday in Bridgeton, Mo., following Friday evening’s tornado that swept through the St. Louis region and damaged about 750 homes.

Associated Press

Debris is strewn about a neighborhood Saturday in Bridgeton, Mo., following Friday evening’s tornado that swept through the St. Louis region and damaged about 750 homes.

ST. LOUIS — Debris from splintered homes covered the ground in neighborhoods around St. Louis, while toppled trees and overturned cars littered lawns and driveways. From the air, one home looked like a dollhouse that had its roof lifted off. Looking down, the dining room table and other contents could be seen, damp in lingering rain.

Amid such damage, officials appeared awed that a tornado that roared through the area Friday night, striking a terminal at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and nearby suburbs, hadn't seriously injured anyone.

"It almost feels like a little bit of divine intervention when you look at the devastation," said Gov. Jay Nixon, who flew over the area to survey the damage.

Nixon said President Barack Obama pledged federal assistance Saturday. About 750 homes in the St. Louis region were damaged, and fewer than 100 were uninhabitable, the governor said.

Cleanup swung into full gear Saturday. With the din of chain saws and pounding hammers, homeowners sifted through wreckage while crews scrambled to restore power to the 26,000 customers still without it.

At Lambert, workers boarded up windows and swept up glass in the main terminal.

The airport reopened Saturday night for a handful of arriving flights, and officials expected around 70 percent of the scheduled arrivals and departures to go on as planned early today.

"We're not going to have the prettiest airport … but we will have an operating airport," said airport director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge.

Storm worst since 1967

The National Weather Service said the storm that ripped through the St. Louis region Friday was the worst in the area in more than 40 years, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The last time the area saw such severe and widespread damage was on Jan. 24., 1967, when a tornado traveled 21 miles across St. Louis County. The path of Friday's tornado was only about five to 10 miles away from the 1967 tornado, said Jim Sieveking, the lead forecaster at the National Weather Service in St. Louis.

St. Louis expresses relief after storm hits 04/24/11 [Last modified: Sunday, April 24, 2011 12:19am]
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