The Hill tornado damages homes

8:13 PM, Apr 11, 2013   |    comments
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By Farrah Fazal

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Pieces of people's possessions littered Columbia Street Thursday morning. It was the day after tornadoes and straight-line winds raced through several neighborhoods on Wednesday night.

Twelve streets on The Hill felt the brunt of an EF0 tornado, with winds up to 85 miles per hour.

So did Gwen Shelley. She was on her porch when her lawn chairs crashed into her and pinned her against the fence. She rode out the storm trapped that way.

"I saw a table go over me, and my storage bin, here comes my gas grill, and it tilted over and I still have it hooked up to the propane. I was like thank you God!" she said.

She's got war wounds from the tornado.

"I got this on my eye, my knee is busted, I got a big bruise on my hip from where I landed and stayed for a while," she said.

A missing piece of a house was like a missing piece of a broken heart for Heather Roorda.

"First starter home, cute little house on the hill," said Roorda as her voice broke. The roof is gone. Much of what she owns is destroyed.

"We hear this big loud. The bedroom was collapsed down, kitchen was starting to crumble and crashing in," she said.

She and her husband were afraid they would be electrocuted as they rushed out of their home under the crush of a falling roof.

"We almost died, it's completely surreal right now. I'm alive," she said.

Her home is now condemned.

It's a few doors down from Sam LaPorte's home.

"I was thinking 'oh my gosh, it's really scary'" said LaPorte. He's only eight, going on nine in eleven days.

"It's my first actual real life tornado," said LaPorte.

He won't soon forget the tornado that came days before his birthday.

His neighbor Brittany Borden can't forget either. Her shed is a mangled mess in her backyard.

"I just bought that new patio set and now part of it is here and the other part is there," she said pointing to her backyard.

The stories on Columbia Street are about chaos that comes with lessons.

"Tornadoes are really quick, they come in and bam" said LaPorte.

Mayor Francis Slay toured The Hill Wednesday morning to see the debris. His office reports the storm damaged 48 homes and three businesses on twelve streets in The Hill. The City's EMS headquarters was also damaged.

One of those damaged homes has been condemned.

City crews started cleaning The Hill in the morning and by Thursday afternoon, it was difficult to tell a storm had penetrated one of St. Louis' oldest neighborhoods.


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