Storm hits close to home

Xavier Harris, Web Editor

It’s 8 p.m. and Florissant residents hear the tornado sirens ring in the midst of spotty showers and hard gusts of wind. The noise of the storm hits deep into the eardrums of the masses and is only a minor preview of what is to come later on that night.

“When I heard them [the sirens], me and my family went straight downstairs,” said senior Adam Obrock. After minutes of patiently waiting for the storm to pass just like any other storm, the lights flickered. The immediate sounds of dying electricity rang and Obrock began to finally listen to the massive storm building just outside his Wedgwood home.

The lightning bolts lit up the basement, and the inevitable thunder rang after and shook the foundation. Obrock began to realize that maybe this storm would be more serious than he originally thought. Then those heart-wrenching sirens rang through his Wedgwood home again and the winds began to pick up.

Fortunately – after the second round of tornado sirens finished – the winds died down and the storm seemed to pass without damaging any of Obrock’s home.

While Obrock and his family were some of the lucky ones without receiving any damage to their property, other residents in the North County area could not claim this same fortune.

According to Florissant mayor Thomas P. Schneider, 50 homes had been reported damaged from the April 10th storms and 10 homes were declared destroyed, or unfit for living conditions. Those 10 homes received an orange highlighted notice that read, “Not approved for occupancy,” in large type.

News affiliates in the St. Louis area pounced on the developing storms and had coverage of the most hit areas around the St. Louis metropolitan area, including Hazelwood and more specifically the area along the long stretch of Howdershell Road.

It had been evident that there was a massive tornado that struck through the many subdivisions along Howdershell. According to Fox 2 News, there had been reports of trees flying and falling at the expense of many Hazelwood resident’s homes. The next day, the National Weather Service confirmed that there was indeed a tornado, with a rating of EF2 and winds of up to 111 to 135 mph that touched down in Hazelwood.

The Hazelwood School District immediately called off schools in the hours following the storm with claims of loss of power in many of the schools.

Due to power outages, Cross Keys and Wedgwood schools in the Ferguson-Florissant District were closed the next day.

Like most North students, Jerrell Crutchfield turned to social media to stay current on what had transpired outside of his home that night. He tweeted, “[Heard] all the firefighters got called into Hazelwood, pray for ‘em.”

The next morning, as sunlight rose, relief efforts rushed to areas hit hardest by the storm to help both Florissant and Hazelwood residents with damage to their homes like Stephen Chamberlin, who lives along that stretch of Howdershell that was hit the hardest.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Chamberlin with a sigh. “I have two neighbors who can’t even live in their homes anymore,” he continued.

Tornado warnings should always be taken seriously as funnel clouds can take shape at a moment’s notice. “We’ll just go back to the basement and go through the same routine,” said Chamberlin. Hoping that the next time the damage won’t be so devastating.