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Vintage KSDK: 11 years ago, the Good Friday tornado tore through St. Louis

After touching down in Creve Coeur, the EF-4 twister left a trail of damage from north St. Louis County to the Metro East.

ST. LOUIS — This week's Vintage KSDK takes us back to April 22nd, 2011.

Eleven years ago, a tornado wreaked havoc in our area on the evening of Good Friday.

After touching down in Creve Coeur, the EF-4 twister left a trail of damage from north St. Louis County to the Metro East.

At St. Louis Lambert International Airport, vehicles were tossed like toys, and people ran for cover as the roof and windows on the main terminal were blown away.

Despite the devastation, no one was seriously hurt or killed.

Lambert was forced to close for a few days and damage was estimated at about $20 million.

Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
Storm damage is seen at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport Friday, April 22, 2011, in St. Louis. The National Weather Service has confirmed that a tornado that struck the airport, causing several injuries and sending people scurrying for shelter as plated glass shattered around them and also caused damage in several St. Louis County communities. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

One of the most compelling stories of survival came from Beaverton Drive in Bridgeton.

Retired St. Louis police chief Ron Henderson and his wife Peggy were watching TV when they saw a warning about the storm.

They went to the basement.

"I got her down on the ground, got on top of her and then it was just an assault,” recalled Ron. “It was just like a vicious assault."

Nineteen houses on their street were heavily damaged or destroyed.

Ron said after the storm quieted, his wife asked "'what about upstairs?' I could see the sky looking up the steps. I said, ‘I don't think there's an upstairs.’"

"I can remember actually just praying, if you get me through this, I know things will be ok and I'm here for a reason," recalled Peggy.

The Hendersons and many of their neighbors rebuilt. And they're living proof that taking tornado warnings seriously saves lives.

"She said to me, 'oh you're my hero,'” remembered Ron.

“That lasted about 15 minutes, and she said, ‘I'm the one who told you to come down.’ We had this discussion, and she was right, I should have listened. Believe me, any time there's a tornado warning or a storm I'm on alert," said Ron.