NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — The National Weather Service says the deadly tornado that struck near Oklahoma City late last week was another top-of-the-scale EF5 that packed winds reaching 295 mph. The weather service also says the twister's 2.6-mile width is the widest ever recorded.
The weather service initially rated the Friday tornado that hit El Reno as an EF3. But the agency upgraded the ranking Tuesday after surveying damage. Eighteen people were killed in the tornado and subsequent flooding in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area.
The weather services says the El Reno tornado tops a 2.5-mile wide tornado that hit Hallam, Neb.
The update means the Oklahoma City area has seen two of the extremely rare EF5 tornadoes in less than a month. The other hit Moore on May 20, killing 24 people.
As people continue work to clean up after Friday's storms, Missouri Attorney General is warning homeowners and businesses to be on the lookout for price gouging.
Koster reminds everyone that suddenly and artificially raising prices is illegal. Anyone who feels they have been the victim of price gouging should call the attorney general's office at 800.392.8222.
Anyone found to be in violation of price-gouging laws faces a fine of up to $1,000 per violation.
Clean up continues in tornado-damaged Weldon Spring in St Charles County. Whitmoor Golf Course managers off Wolfrum Road now say they hope to reopen the course this weekend after more than 200 trees were toppled or sliced by an EF3 twister Friday night. Several homes were leveled.
St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann says 350 homes have major damage, with 45-50 homes of those condemned, and 250 with moderate damage.
He says their main concern is safety, along with clean up, helping residents get back into their homes, and making sure that residents are not scammed in the recovery process.
ADVICE FOR ST. CHARLES COUNTY RESIDENTS AFFECTED BY THE MAY 31 STORM
ST. CHARLES COUNTY, MO – As of June 3, assessments by St. Charles County indicate that 350 homes sustained major damage, with 45-50 homes of these homes condemned, and 250 with moderate damage, due to the May 31 storm.
St. Charles County’s number one concern is safety for the affected residents, along with cleaning up the storm damage, helping residents get back into their homes, and making sure that residents are not scammed in the recovery process. St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann and County departments and staff would like to provide the following information for County residents affected by the storm.
Debris from Downed Trees:
• St. Charles County Highway Department’s first priority is to pick up trees and limbs in unincorporated impacted areas East of Highway 94, North of Highway 40/61, South of Friedens Rd., and along Arena Pkwy. Otherwise, Highway Department crews will follow County snow routes adjacent to the defined area, but it may take a week or more until they reach those areas. Residents in the impacted areas should bring the tree and limb debris to the curb; also, residents do not need to schedule pickup nor do they need to bag the debris, and there is no set schedule for when crews will reach particular streets, subdivisions, etc. For questions, please call the St. Charles County Highway Department at (636) 949-7305.
• Please do not mix yard waste and tree limbs with household/construction debris such as shingles and siding. Consult with your local trash disposal service for questions about household/construction debris removal. If yard waste and tree debris is mixed with household/construction debris, none of the debris will be picked up.
• For residents in the storm affected area who have been helping out by taking their own tree debris to the Highway Department facilities on 3890 Greens Bottom Rd. - please be aware there is flooding on Greens Bottom 1/2 mile from Pitman Rd., so you must use Jungs Station Rd. to access the area. You may also take your tree debris to the Highway Department’s Weldon Spring site, 7101 Highway 94, south of Hwy 40/61. These facilities cannot accept commercial tree haulers due to space.
Nonelectrical Construction Debris:
• St. Charles County will be placing dumpsters in the hardest hit areas for nonelectrical construction debris.
Free Recycling of Electronics:
• St. Charles County’s Recycle Works Central, located at 60 Triad South Drive, St. Charles, MO 63304, will recycle damaged electronics for free June 5- 15. For more information, call Recycle Works Central at (636) 949-7900, ext. 4271. The City of St. Charles in sponsorship with WITS, Inc. is holding a free electronics recycling event on June 21 at the Family Arena, as well. For more information, call WITS at (314) 558-0090 or visit the organization online at www.witsinc.org.
Hazards from Electrical Lines:
• Ameren Missouri is restoring service to the County neighborhoods affected by Friday night’s storms, but your own electrical lines may still pose safety hazards.
• Loose electrical lines may be dangerous, and any electrical lines that were exposed to water must be replaced.
• In such cases, Ameren Missouri may disconnect meters until a contractor replaces or repairs the electrical lines that are loose or were exposed to water.
• For questions about electrical lines and services, call Ameren Missouri at 1-800-552-7583
• Please contact a licensed contractor for any required work.
Licenses Required for Certain Contractors:
• If you are in the unincorporated part of St. Charles County – not located in municipal limits – please remember that the County’s ordinances require licenses for certain specialized contractors. These include electrical, plumbing, and HVAC contractors.
• Such licenses are issued by the Division of Building Code Enforcement. To confirm that a license is required or that a contractor has one, call the Division at (636) 949-7345. Information is also available at www.sccmo.org under Departments – Community Development – Permits and Applications.
Permits Required for Structural and Electrical Repairs:
• If you are in the unincorporated part of St. Charles, County ordinances will require permits for structural and electrical repairs. These may be required for other repairs as well.
• Such permits are issued by the Division of Building Code Enforcement. Often, contractors will obtain such permits for the owners they work for, but the legal responsibility for getting those permits is the owners’.
• Owners may call the Division of Building Code Enforcement for more information or to confirm that permits have in fact been issued for their repairs. Please note that the contractor is not done with work until the final inspection has been approved. The Division’s number is (636) 949-7345.
Permits Required for Door-to-Door Solicitation by Repair Contractors:
• Solicitors’ Permits: Outside the County’s municipalities, County ordinances require that solicitors have County licenses and show them to the residents they visit (some of the County’s municipalities have similar ordinances). Ask to see that license, or you may call the Office of the County Registrar at (636) 949-7560 to learn whether a solicitor’s license was issued to the person or company seeking your business. Here’s what such a license looks like:
• Merchants’ Licenses: Throughout the County, merchants who sell at retail or wholesale must have merchants’ licenses. Repair contractors who sell materials and collect sales tax on the sale must have such licenses, which are issued by the County’s Department of Finance. Residents may ask to see that license, or contact the County’s Department of Finance to confirm that a merchant has one. The Department’s number is (636) 949-7465.
General Suggestions/Items of Note:
• Please note that St. Charles County building inspectors will have picture I.D.’s. It is advisable for residents to request to see this I.D. before letting an individual inspect their home.
• Though many contractors are reputable some are the “storm-chasers” that Missouri’s Attorney General has warned Missourians against: http://ago.mo.gov/newsreleases/2013/AG_Koster_warns_consumers_scams_tornados_StLouisArea/
• Feel free to contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-392-8222 with concerns, or to consult the Better Business Bureau by calling (314) 645-3300.
• St. Charles County is still asking that people stay away from affected areas to allow crews to respond to the damage. If citizens come across any hazards, please call 911.
• The St. Charles County Sheriff’s Department is providing security for the affected areas.
Assistance and Volunteer Opportunities:
• Those who need assistance or wish to volunteer to help with the storm cleanup should call United Way's 211 from a landline phone or call 1-800-427-4626 from a mobile phone.
The call for sandbaggers at Portage Des Sioux had been answered.
St. Charles County officials say no additional volunteers are needed. KTRS's Michael Golde was at the scene earlier today and said that within an hour of the request for help on Monday morning, the number of sandbaggers nearly doubled.
Officials say the situation could change, it is unknown how long work on the sandbagging will continue.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Tasked with urgently warning their region when violent weather is imminent, the National Weather Service crew in suburban St. Louis isn't immune from having to scramble for its own safety.
During severe storms that thundered into the area on Friday night, meteorologists noticed a storm system's tight rotation perilously close to their office in Weldon Spring, west of St. Louis.
Forty-six-year-old meteorologist Mark Britt says he and about 10 others bolted for a copy room with reinforced walls and hunkered down. That was only after they called upon their Kansas City colleagues to monitor the storm and issue any public warnings for eastern Missouri.
Britt says it's the first time during his office's nearly quarter century in Weldon Spring that they've had to scurry for cover.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The National Weather Service confirms that at least one tornado barreled Friday night through portions of the St. Louis area as part of a storm that damaged dozens of homes but caused no serious injuries.
The weather service's Jayson Gosselin says the twister that hit portions of St. Charles County was an EF-3, which packed winds up to 165 miles per hour. A tornado of that magnitude also has been confirmed to have affected the Roxana area in Illinois' Madison County, northeast of St. Louis.
Gosselin says crews are trying to determine if damage in St. Louis County was also from a tornado.
Governor Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency.
Ameren says over 50,000 homes are without power as of Sunday morning.
YUKON, Okla. (AP) - A hospital official in Oklahoma City says more than 75 people were injured during a burst of severe storms and tornadoes on Friday night.
Integris spokeswoman Brooke Cayot said Saturday that the hospital chain had treated 77 people. One remains in critical condition.
Five people died during the storm, which struck the Oklahoma City area during rush hour, trapping many people in their cars along Interstate 40.
The National Weather Service reported Friday evening that "several" tornadoes rolled across the prairie. The official number of tornadoes has not yet been determined.
The National Weather service is trying to determine if storm damage in parts of St. Clair County Thursday evening was caused by straight line winds or a small tornado.
The county Emergency Management Agency reports that the worst damage was in Marissa, Illinois, about 40 southeast of St. Louis. That's where there were several unconfirmed reports of a tornado touching down about 7:00 p.m.
Marissa resident Alice Steinheimer was still shaking when she spoke with Fox 2 News after the storm knocked down several trees on her property. She said it was a frightening evening. "It was scary, believe me," she said. "I thought we was havin' a tornado. And I don't like them tornadoes."
Steinheimer said the tree damage is overwhelming. "Oh my God, it's something," she said. "I don't know how I'm going to get this mess cleaned up."
Several car and homes were also damaged in the Marissa area.
A St. Louis man is among the dead after an EF5 tornado hit Moore, Oklahoma last week. The twister killed 24 people and among them, St. Louis native Leslie Johnson.
Johnson's ex-wife and three children live in south St. Louis. His family says Johnson had gone to Oklahoma two months ago to search for work.
Johnson had taken refuge in a closet when the storm hit and was killed when the building he was in was flattened.
A funeral home in Oklahoma City donated the cremation services, but his family needs help paying for a funeral. Donations can be made at the following website.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will tour the damage from the massive tornado that devastated the Oklahoma City area.
Obama plans to meet with affected families and thank first responders during a visit Sunday to Moore, Okla. The White House says Obama wants a firsthand look at the recovery from the tornado that killed 24 and damaged an estimated 12,000 homes Monday afternoon.
The town of Moore is a community of 41,000 people located about 10 miles from Oklahoma City.
Obama offered prayers for the people of Oklahoma from the White House in recent days. He said that "while the road ahead will be long, their country will be with them every single step of the way."
Meanwhile, commencement ceremonies went ahead for high school grads from Moore. They took place in nearby Oklahoma city. Many of the grads say Moore is home and they don't plant to stray too far.