October 20, 2014

Officials assess tornado damage

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, and Sedgwick County Commissioner Dave Unruh assess tornado damage in Wichita on April 16. The National Weather Service estimates the tornado that hit Wichita on April 14 was an EF-3 with maximum wind speeds of 165 miles per hour. Submitted photo

Danedri Thompson
dthompson@gardnernews.com
Emergency and state officials on Monday toured sites hit by 97 tornadoes that swept through Kansas last weekend.
The Kansas Division of Emergency Management is reporting there were no deaths resulting from the storm, but Gov. Sam Brownback has declared a disaster emergency in 39 Kansas counties in order to activate response and recovery efforts.
“The state will do what it can to help our storm-ravaged communities get back on their feet,” Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, the director of the state’s emergency management division, said.
Sedgwick and Rice Counties, which include the cities of Wichita and Lyons, appear to have been the hardest hit by the weekend storms.
Rice County officials reported that several buildings were damaged and debris blocked some minor roads. Damaged oil tank batteries also released 50 to 100 gallons of oil into a containment area. Prisoners in the county jail were transferred to other facilities after tornadic winds tore the roof off of the jail, and the county’s 911 dispatch center was transferred to a regional back-up center.
In Wichita, 57 mobile homes in one park were nearly wiped out, 35 mobile homes received 50 percent damage and another 61 mobile homes were damaged less than 50 percent.
In addition to damages at the Pinaire Mobile Home Park, six homes were destroyed and a condominium in Wichita was also damaged. Spirit Aerosystems buildings also received damage with six of the buildings receiving significant damage.
More than 100 Wichita residents were sheltered overnight during the weekend by the American Red Cross in Derby.
“Initial reports indicate there where many homes and businesses damaged – somecompletely destroyed by the severe weather but so far, thankfully no deaths,” Gov. Brownback said.  “Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those impacted by the numerous storms that passed through our state – and for our neighbors in Oklahoma who lost loved ones”.
Monday afternoon, the Governor, emergency officials and Sens. Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts toured storm damage in Rice and Stafford Counties and in Wichita.
Moran said the destruction he witnessed proved that the damage goes beyond buildings.
“This storm impacted countless families, business owners and their employees,” Moran said. “And less than 24 hours after the tornado, Kansans have already reached out to their neighbors to help meet their needs.”
Officials from the Salvation Army also joined the tour of storm damage, and Moran said the group is making a difference by providing shelter to more than 200 people following the tornado.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to residents and business owners who suffered great loss and devastation,” Moran said.

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