Tornado Rocks St. Louis’ Lambert International Airport

St. Louis suburbs were rocked severe thunderstorm and tornadoes including one that tore into Lambert/St. Louis International Airport on Friday. There’s widespread damage to the metro area. Particularly hard hit was Terminal 1 where debris strewn around the buildings concourses. Windows were blown out. People were running for their lives. Lambert Airport was closed on Friday evening and much of Saturday. The Airport began to reopen late Saturday afternoon by allow 9 incoming flights.  From CNN:

A handful of incoming flights are set to touch down Saturday night at St. Louis’ airport for the first time in about 24 hours after a powerful tornado hit.

The twister left behind what a National Weather Service meteorologist called “an incredible trail of devastation” — but no deaths or life-threatening injuries — across nine western Missouri communities.

Earlier Saturday, officials had said that they expected operations at Lambert-St. Louis Airport to resume Sunday, as the work continued to restart power, conduct safety checks and clean up the damage.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon(D)  toured the Gateway Metro area on Saturday  surveying the damage caused by the severe weather that hit on Friday from KDSK-TV/HD “NewsChannel 5”:

For all his years in public service Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said the trail of destruction left by Friday’s severe storms and tornados was the longest he’s ever seen.

The governor arrived at the heavily damaged Lambert-St. Louis International Airport on Saturday afternoon with plans to tour three of the most heavily hit areas: Berkeley, Bridgeton and Maryland Heights. After spending 30 minutes in Berkeley talking to area politicians and home owners, looming storms forced the governor to cut his tour short.

President Obama  contacted Gov. Nixon was assured by the President federal help is on the way:

Nixon said President Barack Obama called and pledged federal support for disaster victims and airport repairs.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay(D) and Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegger reassure visitors and travellers that the airport will be ready to re-open this week. from KMOV-TV/HD “News4 St. Louis”:

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and Hamm-Niebruegge, told reporters Saturday that the airport could be even more functional on Sunday.

The Storm which brought tornadoes to the St. Louis area cause extensive to Lambert Airport including tearing off the roof in the main terminal, water throughout the facility KMOV-TV/HD “News4 St. Louis:

At the airport, several of the main terminal’s windows had been blown out, sending glass and rain into the building. Elsewhere on the property, trees were toppled and power lines downed, limiting access even hours after the storm passed.

But the airfield itself was fully functional, Hamm-Niebruegge said, perhaps allowing some airlines to shuttle in crews.

“We will not have departures out of here today, but we expect a good number of departures out of here tomorrow,” Hamm-Niebruegge said. Slay added that it was hoped the airport would be up to full capacity by the middle of next week.

“This effort is going to take the cooperation and involvement of people of all levels of government,” Slay said. “We are confident we will make this airport as good as it’s ever been in terms of its condition.”

Hamm-Niebruegge and Charlie Dooley, St. Louis County’s executive, said they felt blessed there weren’t more injuries than the five victims who were taken to hospitals, all of them later treated and release.

“When you look at the devastation around, it really is a miracle there were no fatalities,” Hamm-Niebruegge said.

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