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Sunday
Apr242011

Cleanup Continues in St. Louis Following Tornado

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images(ST. LOUIS) -- St. Louis' Lambert Airport opened Saturday night for some arriving flights after a tornado caused such terrible damage to the main terminal on Friday.

The storm ripped part of the roof off the airport's main concourse, blew out glass windows and wreaked havoc on the runway, damaging a handful of planes.

"It's going to take a while before the C concourse can be functional," airport director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge said. "A good portion of the roof is absolutely gone, every window is out of that as well as extensive damage to a number of the actual restaurants and stuff in the concourse."

She said one passenger jet was severely damaged and five or six others sustained lesser damage.

Officials hoped to restore the airport to 70 percent operating capacity by Sunday, though they cautioned that to achieve that, they need to first restore electricity to the facility. The damaged concourse will be closed for the coming months.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said today that already crews have made dramatic progress cleaning things up at the airport.

Gov. Jay Nixon said 750 homes in the region were damaged and that President Obama pledged federal assistance during a phone conversation. The tornado also caused widespread damage and power outages in St. Louis County, and power company officials said many could remain in the dark until Monday.

The National Weather Service reported damage consistent with winds gusting over 135 miles per hour during the brunt of the storm.

Most of the danger at the airport resulted from shattered glass, which was sent flying when approximately half of the windows in Terminal 1 blew in as the storm hit.

Despite the damage, officials said they were relieved that only five people were hospitalized due to injuries sustained at the airport, and that all of them were treated and released.

According to the National Weather Service, the storm was one of about two dozen tornadoes that hit across five Midwest states Friday, and it is likely that there are more to come, especially in Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

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