ST. LOUIS — A couple of deadly tornadoes ripped through parts of the St. Louis area Friday night, leaving lots of devastation behind.
There are reports of multiple deaths, numerous injuries, and severe structural damage from the stormy night. Edwardsville, Illinois and Defiance, Missouri are the areas most affected.
In Edwardsville, 6 people are confirmed dead after an Amazon facility partially collapsed. A wall that was about the length of a football field gave in, as did the roof above it.
The National Weather Service of St. Louis completed a survey of the tornadoes, and found damage that rated an EF-3 with tops winds of 150 mph.
Another storm survey team in St. Charles County, rated the tornado along Highway F and Route 94 a high-end EF-3 damage on the Enhanced Fujita scale with top wind speeds of 165 mph.
An 84-year-old woman, who was asleep, died as the tornado passed through. Powerful winds damaged homes and knocked down trees and power lines. Two horses also died in the storm after being trapped in a collapsed barn.
How to help
GoFundMe launched a page that lists verified fundraisers supporting victims of tornadoes across Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi.
Amazon warehouse collapse victims
On that list are several people who were working at an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, IL when it partially collapsed.
Austin McEwen was one of the six people who died when the Amazon warehouse was hit. According to the GoFundMe page, he "was a beautiful soul, loved by all who met him."
Larry Virden was also killed in the tornado. According to the GoFundMe page he leaves behind "three young children, a grown child, a 4-year-old granddaughter, a loving fiancé."
Etheria Hebb lost her life in the Amazon warehouse collapse. According to the GoFundMe page set up for her, she leaves behind her 1-year-old son.
A GoFundMe for Clayton Cope was recently set up. He was also killed when the Amazon warehouse was hit. The description for the GoFundMe read in part "the world will never be the same without him and nor will this family."
Craig Yost survived the tornado that hit the Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville. The 39-year-old is recovering in the hospital after a 40-foot concrete wall fell on top of him while he took shelter in the bathroom on the south end of the warehouse. He shared his story of survival with 5 On Your Side. His family is looking to raise money to help with medical bills.
Dine out for Defiance
Dukes BBQ Shack in Wentzville will donate 50% of all proceeds raised Wednesday, Dec. 22 to the families affected by the December tornado. The special dining event goes from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. at Dukes BBQ. The address is 100 Ash Street.
More ways to help
The St. Charles County police department says relief agencies, such as Americorps, Salvation Army, and Red Cross are going to help coordinate volunteer and donation efforts in Defiance. St. Charles County Police Chief Chris Hunt says the department will be posting updates on how you can help and donate on their Facebook page.
St. Charles County Regional Emergency Management (REM) says opportunities are available to donate items or to assist with clean up. Volunteers are being coordinated by AmeriCorps at Augusta Fire Station #2 at 3099 Highway 94 S. Donated items, such as bottled beverages, non-perishable food, animal care products.
The New Melle Fire Protection District had been asking for donations but is now switching from donation collection to distribution.
"We are overwhelmed with the out pouring of support shown by the community," the department wrote on Facebook. "Currently we are no longer in need of drop off donations at our station. We will switch focus on finding those in need of what we currently have. Thank you to everyone for their generosity."
Local leaders have been releasing statements regarding the widespread tornado damage. Congresswoman Mary Miller (IL-15) states, "During this time, please consider how you can pray, give blood, volunteer & support the tornado victims, their families, and communities in Illinois and across the Midwest."
“Our hearts go out to the individuals and communities impacted across Missouri and Arkansas,” said Chris Harmon, Regional Disaster Officer for the Red Cross, in a Saturday statement. “We have been working to determine specific needs and will continue to work closely with local officials today.”
To give to the Red Cross, visit redcross.org, call 1-800 RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation or donate online at www.redcross.org. To volunteer, visit redcross.org/volunteer.
Schnucks also announced it's partnering with the Red Cross for a "Round Up at the Register" campaign to help those affected by the tornadoes. Dec. 13-19, customers can round up when paying for their groceries and 100% of donations will go to the American Red Cross' Disaster Relief Fund.
The Salvation Army has set up a disaster relief fund for the tornado victims. Donations can made here or by calling 800-725-2769. It is also preparing to dispatch mobile kitchens that can serve 500 to 1,500 meals per day to the survivors and first responders in the affected areas.
The United Way of Greater St. Louis has launched a disaster recovery fund to help the St. Louis area families impacted by Friday night's storms. All proceeds raised through United Way's fund will support the long-term recovery efforts for impacted households in the St. Louis region, such as temporary housing and shelter, unmet basic needs and other emerging needs. Donations can be made online here. Additionally, volunteers are needed to help with response efforts in Defiance, Missouri. Anyone interested in volunteering can learn more by clicking here.
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is offering counseling services for students. That information can be found in this Facebook post and in students' emails. In addition, the university has therapy dogs at the Lovejoy Library through Thursday (12/16) to help students destress during finals week.
Good News Brewing Company, which has a location in hard-hit Defiance, announced it's doing a gift card drive to help families in need. Those looking to contribute are asked to bring in gift cards worth $20 or more for restaurants, grocery stores or gas stations to any Good News Brewing Company location in the St. Louis area. The cards will be donated to families recovering from the storms. Anyone who donates will get a free beer, the brewery said.
Down the street from Good News Brewing Company is Defiance Roadhouse.
Co-owner Jennifer Ham says the community has jumped in, after they announced they were collecting items for tornado victims.
They are collecting toiletries, Christmas gifts, and store, gas station or restaurant gift cards, as some families are staying in hotels.
Here's a list of current items needed:
- Family #1: Pregnant mom - Medium in maternity clothes, Dad - XL Shirts and 36x30 pants, Boy - Size 10 clothing/size 2 shoes, Girl - Size 10 clothing/size 2 shoes, Boy - size 3T clothing and 8-9 toddler shoes
- Family #2: Mom- small/medium tops and medium in pants, Dad- XL in shirts and 34 or 36 width and 32 or 34 length in pants, Girl size 8-9 clothing
All Firehouse Subs in the U.S. are raising money to help families devastated by the tornadoes. Guests can donate at their local restaurant or online here. All money raised will go to the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, which will use the funds to deliver food, offer relief and recovery support and help buy equipment for organizations and relief agencies. The foundation also gave $25,000 to the American Red Cross.
St. Charles County Regional Emergency Management also released resources for counseling services. If you know anyone needing support, you can contact Compass Health - Crider at 314-397-077.
Tornado survivors, responders, and loved ones of victims can also call the Disaster Distress Helpline. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a 24/7 free confidential emotional support at 1-800-985-5990.