Couple Meets St. Louis Airport Tornado Head On 4-25-2011 - WNEM TV 5

Couple Meets St. Louis Airport Tornado Head On 4-25-2011

Dick and Lori Bourdrow of Frankenmuth were on board a plane sitting on the tarmac in St. Louis, Mo. when powerful tornado tore through Friday night.
The couple had just returned from vacation in Aruba and was enroute to Flint Bishop when lightning and strong winds kept the American Airlines grounded at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. Preliminary National Weather Service estimates released Saturday show the tornado packed winds between 111 and 165 miles per hour when it hit the airport.


Dick told TV5 the storm was so strong, the plane was pushed about 25 feet sideways on the tarmac and left scattered debris all around it.
"It obviously just took a couple of minutes for the damage to occur," Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge told CNN's American Morning. "It will take weeks, maybe a couple of months, to clean up all of it."
The main airport in St. Louis will operate at 90 percent capacity Monday and airport officials are still working to help American Airlines and Cape Air restore full service by Tuesday. Those carriers were among the hardest hit after the storm, which devastated the airport's C concourse.
Police and firefighters helped make sure people at the airport took shelter.
The tornado also damaged 750 homes near the airport, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said. There were no fatalities reported -- a fact that Nixon characterized as "absolutely amazing."
The Bourdrow family eventually made it home on another flight, but was told the tornado-damaged plane will likely never fly again. Four other American planes had minor damage.

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