April Tornado Destroys, Damages Homes In Hazelwood, Florissant and Changes Lives


House split in half by tree in Hazelwood

By Pat Lindsey

The day after a tornado touched down in Hazelwood, the air in the hardest hit area smelled like Christmas, but no one was celebrating.  A massive cleanup had begun on Holiday Ave., Lynn Haven Lane, Howdershell and surrounding streets.  Tree trimming crews were removing huge pine trees from the roofs of houses and tops of cars.  Neighbors comforted neighbors as they stared at their destroyed homes in disbelief.

Roofless house on Howdershell Rd.

On April 11th, a group of state and local dignitaries, including Gov. Jay Nixon, State Treasurer Clint Zweifel, St. Louis County Executive Charles Dooley, Mayor Matt Robinson of Hazelwood, and Mayor Tom Schneider, took a walking tour of the area hardest hit to assess the damage.  They witnessed dozens of houses that had collapsed under the weight of heavy, uprooted trees.  Vehicles in driveways were trapped under other trees and debris.  Power lines were down and traffic lights were out.  But no one was hurt.

After the walk, Gov. Nixon said, “I want everyone to know that this community is united and law enforcement is doing a great job.”  He praised the cooperative system of cities that had worked together to make sure the storm warnings came in time.  “Houses were destroyed; lives were changed forever, but we will rebuild and be stronger than we were the day before,” he added.

During cleanup, Nixon said the first three things that need to happen are to secure things, recover quickly, and restore the neighborhoods.  Everyone needs to be safe and have confidence and trust in their local officials.

 Mayor Robinson of Hazelwood reported late Thursday  more than 100 homes were damaged, about one-fourth of them severely damaged and many of those are currently not livable.

Mayor Tom Schneider of Florissant said 40 to 50 homes in his city were also damaged by the tornado and 10 of those were severely damaged.  He said some of the Florissant homes are located on Florland Dr., Brightwell Ct., and Yaqui Dr. in Ward 3. (see accompanying story for more of Mayor Schneider’s comments)

Roof in front yard near driveway

Most of debris on the streets were along Lynn Haven and Holiday

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