There were three confirmed tornado touchdowns on Wednesday night -- in Hazelwood, Florissant and Alton, Illinois.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency for the St. Louis area after the tornadoes and severe thunderstorms storms caused extensive damage and wide-spread power outages. Nixon will visit St. Louis Thursday to survey the damage with local officials.
The declaration allows local and state agencies to coordinate relief efforts for victims of Wednesday’s storms.
Violent storms rocked the St. Louis metro area Wednesday evening, spawning tornadoes and strong winds that damaged buildings, toppled trees and downed power lines.
Storm damage and power outages have prompted some schools to cancel classes for Thursday.
Shenandoah Valley Elementary School in Chesterfield has canceled class after the storm tore the roof off the building.
All Hazelwood Schools are closed due to power outages. There are also concerns about fallen trees and debris blocking bus routes in the district.
Vianney High School has canceled classes over power issues as well.
Additional school closings will be added to this list if warranted.
Franklin County officials reported damage county-wide. That includes widespread roof and tree damage. Sullivan was one of the hardest hit areas in the county. Several mobile homes were damaged at the Jergenson mobile home park. At least 4 people were injured there, mainly broken bones. Rescue crews have gone door to door, searching for additional victims. The storm struck the 1st Baptist Church in Union during a church service. Worshippers evacuated to a safe area of the church, which lost a large portion of it's roof, but no one was injured.
The cleanup will be long and arduous in Hazelwood after a tornado reportedly touched down their during last night's storms. Strike teams from St. Charles County were called in to assist local authorities about 8:30 p.m. Fire crews from St. Charles and the City of St. Louis were also called in. Ground zero was near Howdershell and Lynn Haven. At least one person became trapped after a tornado tossed a large tree onto a home at Howdershell and Octavia. Several buildings were damaged in that area and police have closed the roads leading into the neighborhood. The good news: There have been no reports of serious injuries in Hazelwood.
Multiple Tornado Warnings were issued for St. Charles County. Projected paths included St. Peters, Cottleville, and St. Charles; 370 Park; and West Alton. Radar also indicated rotation between O’Fallon and Lake St. Louis, as well as in the area near Defiance. Power outages are minimal in St. Charles County, but there are other problems, including road closures. Highway 94 is blocked just east of Portage des Sioux because of downed power poles and wires. A spokesperson for the county says they're not sure when that will be cleared. Also there's water covering Hwy H at Hwy 94. Multiple utility lines down or arcing in Dardenne Prairie, St. Peters, O’Fallon, and unincorporated county. And lightning strikes were reported in Lake St. Louis, Dardenne Prairie, Cottleville, and unincorporated areas.
Damage is also being reported in the Hill neighborhood of South St. Louis. In the 5600 block of Columbia, two homes were heavily damaged. The roof was ripped off one home and strewn across the block, causing additional damage to cars and other homes.
Broadcaster KOAM reports that the first structural beams for the school were dropped into place Wednesday. This was the first work visible to the community on a building that Superintendent C.J. Huff calls the hub of the community.
Previous work on utilities and footings for the 504,000-square-foot building was largely done underground.
Huff watched as a crane moved the beams into place. He says the work is good for the community to see.
The tornado that destroyed the school hit soon after an offsite graduation ceremony. One graduate was sucked out of a vehicle and killed.
Since then, older students have been attending classes in a converted
It was part of a wave of severe storms that downed trees, damaged buildings and injured more than a dozen people.
The twister traveled down one of Hattiesburg's main streets and mangled homes, commercial buildings and structures on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi. Emergency officials say at least 10 people were injured in surrounding Forrest County and three were hurt to the west in Marion County, but they aren't aware of any deaths.
A Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman says it appears that a single tornado caused the damage in those two counties and Lamar County. Hundreds of homes are damaged in Forrest County, along with a couple dozen in the other two.
On the campus of the university, trees were snapped in half around the heavily damaged Alumni House where part of the roof was ripped away. The university says no one was hurt but that it was under a state of emergency, anyone away from campus should stay away until further notice.