Flights began departing the St. Louis, Mo., airport on April 24 for the first time since a tornado struck two days earlier.
Departures began Sunday morning at Lambert Airport, even as cleanup continued. The C concourse remained closed, but airport and city officials hoped to have the airport operating at about 70 percent capacity. However, dozens of departing flights remain canceled.
Complete repairs could take two months.
The tornado that struck the airport broke panes of glass, tossed a shuttle bus onto a roof and damaged a few planes. Nine St. Louis County communities were also hit. Gov. Jay Nixon says 750 homes in the St. Louis area are damaged.
Five people were injured at Lambert, but none seriously. There were no serious injuries or deaths from the tornado.
The National Weather Service says the tornado that socked St. Louis’ Lambert Airport and nearby suburbs was at least an EF3 on the tornado-strength scale and followed an eerily similar path as a devastating 1967 twister than left an estimated $15 million damage.
An EF3 tornado carries wind speeds of 136 to 165 mph.
Officials appeared awed that the tornado had not seriously injured anyone.
“It almost feels like a little bit of divine intervention when you look at the devastation,” said Gov. Jay Nixon, who flew over the area to survey the damage.
Nixon said President Barack Obama pledged federal assistance Saturday during a phone conversation. Of the 750 homes that were damaged, fewer than 100 were uninhabitable, the governor said.
Cleanup swung into full gear on April 23. With the din of chain saws and pounding hammers in the background, homeowners sifted through wreckage while crews scrambled to restore power to the 26,000 customers still without it.
At Lambert, workers boarded up windows and swept up glass in the main terminal, where the twister had torn off part of the roof and blown out half of the large, plate-glass windows. The domed design of the main terminal, dating to the mid-1950s, was the handiwork of Minoru Yamasaki, the Modernist architect of New York City’s World Trade Center twin towers toppled in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The weather service says the 1967 twister measuring EF4 – with peak winds up to 200 mph – ripped a 21-mile-long path of destruction across St. Louis County, killing three people and injuring more than 200 others.