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Susan Smith-Harmon

Susan Smith-Harmon

   ST. LOUIS (AP) — Waves of violent weather spawning high winds and tornado have torn through the St. Louis area, downing trees and power lines and sending gamblers rushing from a casino floor. There were no immediate, confirmed reports of injuries.

   The storms that began pounding the region around 6:30 p.m. prompted numerous tornado warnings, with at least a few confirmed sightings from Montgomery County about 70 miles west of St. Louis into St. Louis County itself. Many homes were damaged in St. Charles County, specifically at Whitmoor Country Club and other nearby subdivisions.

   Emergency management officials say the Hollywood Casino in Maryland Heights lost its roof.  Investigators did find the building structurally safe.  The casino is set to reopen at 8 a.m. Saturday.

   Rich Gordon, of Jefferson City, says he was on the casino floor when he heard a loud "boom" and officials evacuated the floor. Windows were blown out of the casino and metal power poles outside were snapped off at the base.

    Audience members at Friday night's Circus Flora performance were moved from under the big top to the nearby VA shelter during intermission in the city's Grand Center Theater District. 

   BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) - The mother of a metro-east teenager killed a car crash is free on bond after being accused of giving her son beer and whiskey before the accident.

   The Belleville News-Democrat reports 39 year old Ginger Zehner-Denton of Mascoutah surrendered this week on a charge filed earlier this month that accuses her of unlawful delivery of alcohol.

   Her 18 year old son, Stephen Zehner, died in a Jan. 26 crash. He was a senior at Belleville West High School.

   A 16 year old passenger in the car he was driving was seriously injured and hospitalized for three months.

   Zehner-Denton's attorney says he's not commenting publicly about the case.

   The felony is punishable by up to three years in prison.

 

   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.

 

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