Weather Updates

Tornado damage at St. Louis  airport estimated in millions

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

ST. LOUIS — Clean-up crews worked to clear debris Saturday at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport after a tornado hit Friday night, causing damage estimated in the millions of dollars.

Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge said the airfield was functioning Saturday, but Concourse C in Terminal 1, which sustained heavy damage, would be closed for up to two months. Concourse C houses Air Tran, American, Cape Air and Frontier airlines, Those flights will be moved to other concourses.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said he hoped the airport would be working at 70 percent capacity today and back to full capacity by midweek.

A tour of the airport Saturday showed floors covered with water, a huge hole in the ceiling and glass littering the floor from the many windows blown out by the tornado.

A spokeswoman for Southwest Airlines, the biggest carrier at Lambert, said one of its planes was damaged when the wind pushed a baggage conveyor belt into it.

American Airlines, which operates out of the heavily hit main terminal, said four of its planes were damaged, two of them significantly.

Crosswinds of 80 mph buffeted one plane that was taxiing in from a landing when the tornado hit, and that plane was being checked for possible damage to its landing gear, spokesman Ed Martelle said.

Elsewhere in the St. Louis area, tens of thousands of people were still without power. Area officials appeared awed that the tornado didn’t seriously injured anyone.

“It almost feels like a little bit of divine intervention when you look at the devastation,” said Gov. Jay Nixon, who flew over the area to survey the damage.

About 750 homes in the St. Louis region were damaged, but less than 100 were uninhabitable, Nixon said.

Gannett News Service,
with AP

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