ST. LOUIS – In the early hours of Saturday, July 10, thunderstorm winds estimated at more than 70 mph tore through Tower Grove Park in south St. Louis. The worst of the damage was on the west end.
“We had 26 trees completely blown over. And close to a total of 80 plus that had significant damage to them,” said Bill Reininger, Tower Grove Park’s executive director.
The rising sun showed the full extent of the damage and led to the cancellation of the popular Saturday farmer’s market.
“We were able to see that there were so many trees down and so many hangers in the trees that it just wasn’t safe to bring and invite five thousand people in for the farmer’s market.”
Big pin oaks, silver maples, and ginkos; trees were hard hit. When they fell or lost branches, they also damaged lots of smaller trees.
“So we lost redbuds, dogwoods just from the bigger trees falling on top of them,” Reininger said.
Clean-up work started immediately but will take time.
“We’ll probably be doing this for a couple more weeks. We’ve had dumpsters delivered to haul out the large logs. So, it’s quite an endeavor to do.”
Donations have been coming in since the first photos of the damage hit social media and they are grateful. For those who would like to help, the park has started a fund-raising drive called the Summer Storm Bounce Back. With a gift of $50 or more to the park by July 31, donors get a $10 token to be spent at the farmers’ market.
“So that’s hopefully going to bring in more folks to help the vendors. Get folks here. And help defer the cost of the cleanup,” says Reininger. “It is a little bit heart-wrenching, but it’s nice to know that the public is supporting us. To have that and to see that…That’s the silver lining.”
Donations can be made on the Tower Grove Park website.