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Damage, outages reported after severe storms hit St. Louis area

Damage, outages reported after severe storms hit St. Louis area

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UPDATED, 2:45 p.m. updated outage numbers.

Severe storms and possible tornadoes slammed into the St. Louis area late Sunday night, causing widespread reports of damage. Winds up to 70 mph blew through the area.

According to the National Weather Service, at least three tornadoes were reported — at 11:14 p.m., a tornado was spotted five miles northeast of Gray Summit and at least one home was damaged near St. Albans; a funnel cloud was reported near Concord Village at 11:27 p.m., causing power flashes; and a tornado in Shobonier, Ill., northeast of Carlyle Lake, at 12:20 a.m. damaged two homes.

At 11:34 p.m., a funnel cloud was reported over St. Louis near Lafayette Square, the weather service reports.

The National Weather Service planned to send people out to survey the damage and confirm the tornadoes, said meteorologist Gary Schmocker.

Six people were hurt by the storm in the Metro East. Anderson Hospital spokeswoman Natalie Head says the hospital in Maryville treated one child who suffered a broken leg. One person suffered a head wound, and four people were treated and released.

No serious injuries were reported elsewhere, but authorities throughout the area reported that power lines were downed and some structures sustained damage.

The heavy wind gusts, hail and mix of rain and sleet knocked out power initially to more than 43,000 customers in Missouri, Ameren says. At 2:40 p.m., about 15,500 were still without power, the utility said. In Illinois, nearly 5,500 Ameren customers were without power.

In Richmond Heights, police closed Big Bend Boulevard between Wise and Clayton avenues after the high winds toppled a half-dozen utility poles. The poles were leaning over the street, dangling power lines. One pole had snapped. Police on Monday were trying to keep onlookers away in case the rising tension from the lines caused more to snap before utility crews could replace them, said Richmond Heights Police Chief Rick Vilcek.

"It's gonna take awhile for the cleanup. Hopefully folks will be patient," he said.

An Ameren spokeswoman said crews will be there today to reset the poles and wires. She said utility service was rerouted during the fix so nearby customers weren't left without power there.

High winds, or possibly a tornado, lifted the roof off a church in Gerald, in Franklin County, according to the sheriff's office.

At the Calvary New Life Tabernacle church in Gerald, the pastor's wife said the storm was coming through and a group of about nine people huddled in the church's concrete basement. The storm passed, and the group left.

The pastor's wife, Patricia Kay Maxwell, said, "It sounded like a few screws popping. Pop. Pop. Pop."

Maxwell said she didn't think the sound amounted to much, so she left. About 15 minutes later, police called her and her husband at home to say that part of the church roof was gone. A section of the roof -- about 34 by 18 feet -- was blown about 200 feet and came to rest on the side of a small apartment building. No one was hurt.

In Washington, Mo., downed utility poles and trees forced the closure of Highway 47.

In the Metro East, Granite City had no injuries but damage to several homes. The town saw a path of moderate damage that runs though the city, from the southwest to northeast, said Fire Chief Tim Connolly.

"It's just a straight line through Granite City, that's about three houses wide and maybe four miles long," Connolly said. "It's all very moderate damage. One building collapsed at the edge of town where it started. Roofs were blown off. Sheds blown away, roofs peeled away."

Connolly said no injuries were reported, but one dog was rescued.

There were unconfirmed reports of funnel clouds in St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Charles County. Thousands of customers of Ameren were without electricity for periods of time as the storms blew through.

The rain in parts of the area lasted only a few minutes, but the accompanying winds left a trail of debris and damage. There were reports of wires down on vehicles on streets and highways in St. Louis and St. Louis County, and some power poles were reportedly snapped by high winds.

Some flash flooding of area streets followed the quickly moving storms, which continued into the Metro East area shortly before midnight. Some roads were reportedly blocked by branches and other debris throughout the metropolitan area.

Power lines were down on Interstate 44 near Hampton Avenue after the winds struck. The interstate was closed in both directions for nearly two hours while repair crews removed the wires. No drivers were injured.

After the storms moved into Illinois, damage was reported in the Highland area of Madison County and some other parts of the area.

Some buildings reportedly were damaged along Illinois Route 159 in Edwardsville. And there were reports of extensive damage in the Salem and Vandalia areas of Southern Illinois as the storms pushed further east early today.

David Carson of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

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