South St. Louis County residents clean up after storms overnight brought down trees

Strong winds and rain Wednesday night brought down trees and power lines in some south St. Louis County neighborhoods.
Published: Jul. 13, 2023 at 6:54 PM CDT
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LAKESHIRE, Mo. (KMOV) - Strong winds and rain Wednesday night brought down trees and power lines in some south St. Louis County neighborhoods.

Joanne Ross moved to her house in Lakeshire, which is south of Affton, last year, making this one of the first storms she’s seen in her new home.

“Your adrenaline just goes,” Ross says. “Your heart is beating and you’re screaming to your husband fire, fire.”

A large tree fell across the street from Ross’s house, bringing down power lines with it.

“Your adrenaline gets going,” Ross says. “Especially when you look out the window and see the flames in your car windows. That’s what my husband was freaking out about. He had to go move the cars. That was a little emotional. Especially being woken up straight to that.”

That tree then caught on fire not once, but twice. The second time, Ross says, happened at about 10 Wednesday night.

“The transformer started exploding so we heard four of them, looked out the window and that had started fire again so I called 911 and talked to the fire department last night,” Ross says. “He explained that the transformers reset so that was the cause of the booms.”

Ross and her neighbors lost power when the tree first brought down the power lines and have not gotten an update yet on when it would be restored.

Lakeshire Mayor Tim Seher started his morning driving through the small South County town, checking on everyone and making sure debris was cleared from streets.

“Our glass picnic table just picked up and blew across our patio,” Mayor Seher says. “Our chairs and everything we had on the patio just blew up into the fence.”

Throughout neighborhoods, it’s been all hands on deck with neighbors helping each other clean up.

“Last night when my house got hit, we had almost a dozen people in front of my house cutting up the big branch,” Mayor Seher says. “We had damage in our backyard and our front yard. The people on the street helped us out tremendously.”

The Metropolitan Forestry Service has been busy since the first round of damaging storms hit nearly two weeks ago.

Arborist Cary Semsar says even the best trees can break if the storm is severe enough.

Semsar says the drought conditions here in the metro also play a role in that.

“When trees are suffering in other ways, they are prone to other problems such as storm damage,” Semsar says.

Semsar says many trees that fall during storms have internal decay or damage.

If you’re a homeowner, there are things you can look for.

“At the base of the tree you should see that tree flare out and morph into roots,” Semsar says. “If the base of the tree looks like a telephone pole, call a professional arborist.”

Semsar says another problem is if a tree has multiple stems or trunks.

When choosing an arborist, Semsar says you want someone who is ISA certified. He also advises having an arborist check your trees every year to make sure they are healthy.