ST. CHARLES COUNTY, MO (KTVI) – Friday evening's tornado cut a 12 to 13 mile swath across central St. Charles County and into northern St. Louis County ripping off roofs and demolishing at least three homes on Haversham Rd. in the Harvester area.
The tornado reached E-F 3 levels at times but took no lives. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon toured the area by National Guard helicopter before walking through parts of the Greenboro subdivision Saturday afternoon.
"I think we've all been very blessed that you haven't had significant injuries here," he told reporters and residents. "This tornado formed very quickly," he said adding, it came together just west of the subdivision eliminating the normal 15 to 20 minutes of preparation time.
Residents described rushing to their basements as the sirens sounded and the wind hit. "We hit the last step to our basement and then we just heard that noise and knew we were in some trouble," said Greg Bilbrey. He and his wife were safe, but trapped in their basement by fallen debris.
Neighbors on Haversham quickly came looking for people in the damaged homes. "We started breaking through the dry wall found the stairs, found them, got them and their dog out," explained Paul Schiff whose home next door was not as severely damaged.
Wilburn Shaw never expected to see his home torn apart by a tornado. The Good Friday tornado of 2011 skipped over the neighborhood after touching down in New Melle to the west. This time he listened to the sirens and went to the basement. "It did not sound like a train it just went boom and I thought oh my, oh my and I just held on to the door knob to make sure it didn't get sucked open and I didn't get sucked out."
Rick Matthews and his family were heading downstairs when their windows blew out. “It is stunning to see; it's massive you just don't understand the power. I'll never underestimate it again," he said.