by Michael R. Allen
Severe storms that hit the city on December 31st have left lasting destruction in parts of north St. Louis. In the Ville and Greater Ville area, winds of over 70 miles per hour struck after noon and left blocks of houses with damage ranging from missing fascia cladding to entire collapses. Nearly two weeks later, building owners struggle to get damage repaired amid snowfall, cold weather and — in a few tragic cases — lack of insurance. And some of the buildings hit hard are owned by the city’s Land Reutilization Authority.
The storms on December 31 tracked just east of the path of the devastating tornado that hit St. Louis on September 29, 1927 — a disaster that struck coincidentally at 1:00 p.m. during the week. Over 75 people perished then. Luckily, no one died in the city on New Year’s Eve. However the face of neighborhoods may be changed socially and physically as families are forced to leave their homes and neighborhood landmarks are demolished.
In the last decade, Ville has been hard hit by waves of demolition, arson, brick theft and disinvestment. The storm’s path sadly cuts through the heart of a fragile neighborhood. Some solace can be taken in the fact that not only did the storm just barely avoid Dick Gregory Place — where a $9.5 million redevelopment is taking place — but also did not disrupt work. Workers worked through the storm inside of the 15 historic and two new buildings that comprise the project.
Here are some images of the damage that struck the Ville.