Officials Assessing Damage from Tornado that Hit Wichita, Andover
By Tom Shine, KMUW Radio
WICHITA, Kan. — Officials are continuing to assess the damage caused by a tornado Friday night that hit southeast Wichita and Andover.
Andover Fire Chief Chad Russell said Saturday that four people suffered minor injuries in the storm. He said no people remain unaccounted for.
Russell said 50 to 100 buildings were damaged in Sedgwick County. He said some neighborhoods in Andover were “damaged enough that houses were completely blown down" and cited areas that suffered “very bad damage.”
Russell said exact figures for the amount of damage in Andover were not yet available.
Among the buildings hit was the Andover YMCA, near Kellogg and Andover Road. YMCA officials said the building “suffered significant damage” from the storm.
It said employees and members inside the building took shelter as the tornado approached. No one was injured.
The Andover YMCA remains closed until further notice.
Prairie Creek Elementary School, which is just south of the YMCA, also was damaged by the tornado. District officials planned to assess the damage Saturday.
Andover’s City Hall, near Central and Andover Road, also suffered damage.
Officials set up an emergency shelter at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Andover. Russell said no one used the shelter Friday night.
Ironically, St. Vincent was destroyed in the April 1991 tornado that struck Andover. That storm killed 21 people in Wichita and Andover.
The Kansas Department of Transportation said parts of U.S. 54/400 remain closed between 159th Street to Santa Fe Lake Road. Crews are trying to clear the road of downed power lines.
A Westar official said more than 9,000 people were without power after the storm Friday night. She said that power had been restored to all but 1,250 customers.
Russell, the fire chief, asked people to continue to avoid the area so emergency crews can complete their assessment. He said city officials will let volunteers know when they can help with the clean up. The United Way of the Plains is coordinating donations for a relief fund. People can donate by calling 211 or at unitedwayplains.org.
In response to the storms, Governor Laura Kelly signed a disaster emergency declaration.
" An intense springtime storm system that moved across Kansas the evening of April 29 with large hail and strong straight-line winds spawned multiple tornados causing damage to buildings, trees and power lines in several counties. In response to these storms, Governor Laura Kelly declared a State of Disaster Emergency effective at 8:57 pm on April 29. The declaration activates the disaster response and recovery portions of the Kansas Response Plan, authorizing state resources to augment local jurisdictions with response and recovery efforts in areas impacted statewide," her office wrote.
( See photos of the tornado damage from The Wichita Eagle.)
( Read more Kansas tornado coverage from NPR.)