St. Louis Community Banding Together After Tornado Destruction

As soon as the news hit and the photos surfaced, I sat shocked. The Lambert - St. Louis International Airport I had been to just a week before had been hit by a strong tornado and now looked like a war zone. Pieces of broken glass lay scattered about, a MO-X bus teetered off the side of a parking garage, and people inside the terminals were still reeling from what they had just witnessed.

The moment it hit I knew I wanted and needed to go out to St. Louis to cover it. Since this was the first time I was going to cover a tornado, I didn't know exactly what to expect. At first I thought I actually thought the entire process of finding a story might be easy, but the stories emotionally draining. Well, I was right on the second part, wrong on the first.

My trip started off late and I didn't get down to St. Louis and working on my story until 2 p.m. Considering I had a 2.5 hr long trip back to Columbia to get my package done for the 9 p.m. show I had to work quickly. I started looking for the towns hit by the tornado, but oddly enough it was much harder than I anticipated. I decided to head to a nearby community center where Red Cross had set up a shelter to see if they could help. I spoke with the shelter manager who talked with me about what they were doing,

Next the Red Cross Volunteers introduced me to a brave family of seven whose home had completely been destroyed. I spoke with the owner of the home (the mother), and the uncle and his son on camera. The mother was still in church when the tornado hit. The other six were home at the time and just reached the bottom of the basement stairs when the tornado tore through the home. They were all extremely happy to be alive and astonished not even the toddler was hurt. In fact, the thing I'm most thankful for is there were no deaths in this tornado. Just incredible.

After having them show me where in the shelter they were sleeping now, I headed out to their community. I ran into a few workers doing estimations on homes and spoke with them about how long rebuilding the place would take. About a year they told me.

I continued on to look for the more devastated areas. Time was running thin and I began to worry since I hadn't even seen much tornado damage yet, except along the highway. Finally I saw a group of police cars, along with some black SUV's driving into a neighborhood. I followed them deep into the subdivision and found out this is where most of the damage took place. I talked with workers, the church providing food and water to those still in their homes, and I talked with residents who shared their stories. Since our station had already covered the aspect of what people thought when the tornado hit (and it was a day and a half after the tornado hit), I decided to focus it on how the town was coming together to help each other out. Overall it was a very touching experience and I hope someday I'll be able to go back and see the small town of Berkeley (as well as the rest of the St. Louis area) rebuilt.


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