Residents: St. Louis was "bedlam" during tornado

Debris is strewn about a neighborhood Saturday, April 23, 2011, in Bridgeton, Mo., following a Friday-evening tornado in the area. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Residents of St. Louis tonight are still sifting through the aftermath of a tornado that took out homes and forced the city's only passenger airport to shut down.

On Friday and Saturday, violent thunderstorms raced from Oklahoma to Indiana, but the damage in St. Louis could have an impact on air travel for days. The good news is that, amazingly, no one was killed.

CBS News correspondent Cynthia Bowers reports that witnesses in St. Louis to the storm say it was bedlam. Even though Lambert Field was under a tornado watch, no one expected a powerful tornado to barrel down a runway and slam into the historic airport.

Enormous windows shattered, sending glass flying into Lambert's main terminal. Surveillance video shows the time of impact with travelers and airport employees racing for cover to avoid flying debris.

Airlines cancel St. Louis flights after tornado
Mo. tornadoes destroy homes, damage airport
Photos: Devastating Missouri storms

"We get to the terminal and lights were out, glass everywhere, blood everywhere from people had been cut," said one witness, Ross Taylor.

Three planes filled with passengers rode out the twister on the tarmac. East of the airport, dozens of homes bore the brunt of a twister packing winds of up to 166 miles per hour.

In Maryland Heights, residents scavenged through what was left of their homes, searching for anything that wasn't blown away.

"It was scary. I never want to live through something like that again," said TK.

The small city of Berkely, just east of the airport, was also hard hit.

Emery Washington and his family made it to the basement just seconds before the tornado completely destroyed their home. Folks here are just grateful there were no injuries.

"My whole life flashed before my eyes. I hope I never experience that again. I hope no one experiences that again," Washington said.

The state has declared the area a disaster area and the 30,000 residents without power could be in the dark for days.

"It was horrific and for that much damage to been done, to have no loss of life, is truly a blessing," said Mayor Francis Slay.

The storm is the strongest to hit this area since 1967 and followed a similar path. This storm carved up a 30 mile path, laying claim to neighborhoods rich and poor, and more storms are on the way.

Forcasters caution an extremely dangerous weather pattern is forming that could drop tornados just as strong as the one that hit St. Louis from Illinois to Texas.

  • Cynthia Bowers

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Follow Us

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

On Twitter