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I’ve been trying to figure out how to summarize everything that has happened this past week.  Once I get my thoughts together a little better, I’ll write about it in my own words.  But for now, here are some news articles about the events that shaped my life the last 6 days…

St. Louis pounded by storms

July 20, 2006

 

The summer storm that tore through the Midwest on Wednesday ripped roofs off buildings, toppled trees and injured more than 30 people. The city’s light rail system was down, and a building partially collapsed, injuring at least two people.

At least 486,000 customers lost power, according to utility company AmerenUE.

Winds near 80 mph blew out press box windows and ripped the tarp at the new Busch Stadium before the start of a baseball game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Atlanta Braves.

Five fans were taken to hospitals and at least 25 others were also injured, according to Norm Corley, a supervisor with Accu-Care, which handles medical issues at the stadium.

The wind was also knocked windows out of a rooftop restaurant, downed trees and power lines, and ripped off a section of roof off Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. MetroLink, the city’s light rail system, was down said Police Chief Joe Mokwa.

“This is one of the worst storms we can all remember to hit the city of St. Louis in recent years,” St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.

Another knockout blow pushes powerless back up to 500,000

The second punch was another ringer.

A thunderstorm that pounded the area midday Friday was a close copy of Wednesday’s first roundhouse. The new storm brought the total “to-do” list for repair crews back up to 570,000.

As of 9 p.m. Friday, Ameren reported that 500,000 customers in the area remained without power.

There were also two more deaths Friday: a 42-year-old dump truck driver who died in Affton in a construction site accident during the storm, and a 93-year-old Jefferson County man who died from the heat. Two previous deaths were blamed on Wednesday’s storm and ensuing power outage.

The National Weather Service said Friday’s storm had peak winds of 60 to 70 mph as it roared across north St. Louis County, intensifying to gusts as high as 90 mph over the farmland east of the Metro East area. That roughly equaled Wednesday’s top gusts in St. Louis and St. Louis County.

The storm began over central Missouri, where it dropped 1-inch hail on Columbia and roared eastward. The worst damage in the metro area ran roughly from St. Charles County through north St. Louis County into Granite City, Collinsville and Mascoutah.

The damage in the area was enough for President George W. Bush to declare an emergency Friday, freeing up federal aid to supplement local efforts. The area covered by the declaration includes St. Louis and St. Charles, Jefferson, St. Louis, Dent, Iron and Washington counties in Missouri.

Also, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley said that the county had requested 90,000 meals from Missouri’s State Emergency Management Agency to help feed residents who may not have easy access to open stores or restaurants. He said the meals should arrive this weekend.

The storm on Friday was somewhat different than the one on Wednesday, which erupted on the catalyst of 100-degree heat. Friday’s storm followed the arrival of a cool front that had kept pre-storm temperatures in the upper 80s. But a common factor, said National Weather Service meteorologist Ron Przybylinski, was high humidity.

After Friday’s storm, some places were left almost totally without power. Ameren’s running count by ZIP code reported that about 90 percent of Jennings was without power on Friday afternoon, as were more than 75 percent of Florissant and Granite City.

An Ameren spokeswoman said the utility hadn’t determined how many had lost power Wednesday, enjoyed a restoration and lost it again Friday.

AT&T said the storm cut phone service to about 7,000 customers. Charter Communications Inc. had no estimate of customers without cable TV service but said it had received reports from both sides of the Mississippi River.

Meanwhile, MetroLink warned that it is experiencing delays because of the power outages. Trains are operating at restricted speeds – running at 15- to 20-minute intervals. Updates are at http://www.metrostlouis.org.

After two days of stormy weather, at least the forecast for the weekend is promising: partly cloudy skies and highs in the mid-80s.

St. Louis Is Struggling to Recover in Aftermath of Strong Storms

ST. LOUIS, July 23 (AP) — Dump trucks rolled through city streets on Sunday collecting mangled trees and branches left behind by last week’s powerful storms that cut power to hundreds of thousands of customers.

About 290,000 homes and businesses here were still without power on Sunday, down from the more than half-million without power last week when temperatures soared into triple digits. Four deaths in the region have been attributed to the storms or heat.

Tons of debris reached up to 25 feet high at one of three city drop-off points, city parks officials said. Members of the Missouri National Guard have been helping with the cleanup.

“It’s hard to believe your eyes when you are looking at something this massive,” said Gary Bass, the city parks director. “This is just the beginning.”

A utility company spokeswoman said it could be at least four days before service was fully restored.

The power company has been running television commercials asking for the city’s patience, and 4,000 utility workers from as far away as Arizona are working to restore power.

Emergency rooms continue to be inundated with patients who rely on power for oxygen and other medical needs.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has asked for the help of all registered nurses and nursing assistants in the area.

President Bush on Friday approved Missouri’s request for an expedited disaster declaration, which mobilizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency and provides federal financing for debris removal and other emergency needs.

Parks officials said the piles of shattered tree limbs could stretch more than 30 football fields long. What is not turned to mulch will be cut into free firewood or sent away.

“I call the storm the grand pruning,” said Andrew Mullins, a resident of west St. Louis who was without power for three days. “Every tree in the city was pruned.”

Two are killed in accident on I-70
07/23/2006

Two men were killed early Saturday in a wrong-way accident on Interstate 70 near Highway T in far
western St. Charles County, officials said.

Calvin C. James, 19, of St. Louis, was driving west in the eastbound lanes about 5:50 a.m. when the 1993 Mercury Cougar he was driving hit a 1991 Nissan Maxima head on, the Missouri Highway Patrol said.

The Maxima, driven by Chad E. Clooten, 24, of Columbia, was in the left lane. A cargo van in the middle lane tried to avoid the accident but hit the Mercury, the patrol said.

Aaron L. Rumbles, 18, of St. Louis, who was a passenger in the Mercury, and Tyler R. Downey, 22, of Columbia, Mo., who was a passenger in the Maxima, both died, the patrol said. Downey had been wearing a seatbelt; Rumbles had not, the highway patrol said.

Clooten and James both suffered moderate injuries and were taken to St. Joseph Hospital West in Lake Saint Louis. A hospital employee declined to disclose their status Saturday.

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