Humane Society Helps Hazelwood Tornado Survivors

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HAZELWOOD, MO (KTVI) – The day after a tornado struck Hazelwood, crews worked to survey the damage and start the difficult clean up.

Amidst the rubble, survivors say there’s plenty to be thankful for.

Bennie McCoy and his family lost nearly everything when the tornado tore through their home at Hazelwood’s Teson Garden Apartments. They were even mourning the loss of their beloved cat, Peaches.

McCoy says, “The outside was on the inside of the apartment. The windows were blown out, so I thought she jumped out the window, we thought she was just gone.”

But the next morning, he spotted a tail wagging in the debris. McCoy was thrilled: “I screamed. I grabbed her. I hugged her and put her in the car, like good, gotcha, I can breathe now.”

For now, the McCoys are displaced from their home, and most human shelters don’t house pets. That’s where the Humane Society comes in: providing safe keeping for Peaches until the family finds a new home.

McCoy explains, “They gave us a kennel and told us they had a staging area for all the pets. It was just totally phenomenal. We had no idea that they even did that.”

The Humane Society’s mobile unit was set up at the Hazelwood Civic Center where the Red Cross offered food and shelter to hundreds of victims.

Rosalind Matthews came for a warm meal and place to sleep.  She also lives at Teson Garden Apartments and was at home when the tornado ripped the roof right off her top-story apartment.

“I could see the open sky. It was amazing,” she says, “I’m just glad I’m still here.”

Meanwhile, Hazelwood police are putting measures into place to keep these destroyed homes secure. That includes blocking off the streets that suffered the most damage.

Lt. Jim Hudanick with the Hazelwood Police Department says, “To prevent people from driving down, taking a look, maybe potentially getting into a looting situation, we’re trying to stop that. We’re limiting vehicle traffic, foot traffic. Residents only at this time.”

For these survivors, it’ll be a long road to recovery. But with everyone safe, there’s still plenty to be grateful for.  McCoy says, “We’re talking, laughing, breathing, everybody’s OK. That’s just it, bottom line. And my Peaches is OK.”

For any storm survivors who would like the Humane Society to temporarily care for their pets, they can contact the St. Louis County Animal Control for more information.  The Red Cross will also keep its shelter open for as long as necessary.

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