Fund nears $140,000 for tornado survivors

St. Louis County Police set fraud informational session

By EVAN YOUNG

Nearly four weeks after a tornado ripped through a section of Sunset Hills, the city’s special assistance fund for storm survivors is approaching $140,000.

The Sunset Hills Tornado Assistance Fund, or TAF, has amassed roughly $139,000 in contributions, City Clerk Laura Rider said Monday.

The city likely will accept TAF donations until mid-February, but no official cutoff date has been established, Rider said. Those who wish to donate to tornado relief are asked to make checks payable to the “City of Sunset Hills-TAF” and mail them to: City of Sunset Hills-TAF, 3939 S. Lindbergh Blvd., Sunset Hills, MO 63127.

Mayor Bill Nolan last week lauded those who’ve given their time and money to help storm survivors. He provided an update to members of the Crestwood-Sunset Hills Area Chamber of Commerce on the effort to restore his city following the EF3 tornado that struck on Dec. 31.

“We had the tremendous opportunity — if you want to consider a tornado an opportunity — for people to do good things and to help,” Nolan said. “And the help has just been unbelievable.”

The weather system involved tornadoes and high winds in communities across the state, including Sunset Hills, Crestwood and Fenton. The New Year’s Eve storm — with winds near 150 mph — tore a path of destruction from just east of the Fox Bridge subdivision along West Watson Road through the South Lindbergh Boulevard intersection.

The storm damaged hundreds of area homes and businesses. Initially only minor injuries and no fatalities were reported locally. However, a Fenton woman injured in the storm died Jan. 10. Statewide, tornadoes touched down in 13 locations, killing two people near Rolla and two people in Dent County, just south of Phelps County.

Nolan said help arrived immediately and recognized the efforts of first responders.

Dozens of volunteers showed up the next day to start clearing debris; hundreds turned out for a citywide cleanup a week later.

The city’s TAF has grown exponentially in the past few weeks with proceeds from fundraisers and individual donors.

“It’s been going great,” Nolan said. “I have to compliment everybody who just stepped up and wrote checks, stepped up and brought money by City Hall.”

In related news, the St. Louis County Police Department will conduct an informational session on fraud this week for residents affected by the New Year’s Eve storm.

The event will take place at 7:30 p.m. today — Jan. 27 — at the Solid Rock United Pentecostal Church, 899 Gravois Road, Fenton. Police are concerned that storm survivors may be subjected to fraud, though no such cases so far have been documented, according to a news release.