Tornado Tears via Andover, KS
A tornado hit south central Kansas Friday night, leaving damage in its wake, but few casualties. Residents of the Wichita area and Andover, Sedgwick, and Butler counties collect the details.
More than 1,000 buildings were damaged when a powerful hurricane slammed into Andover on Friday evening. Officials said in a briefing on Saturday afternoon that search and rescue operations were continuing.
As the sun rose over the devastated community, local emergency officials found a path of destruction more widespread than previously anticipated.
“We now know that our damage path extended approximately 3 to 4 miles north of where we thought it ended last night,” said Mike Roosevelt, deputy chief of the Andover Fire Department.
Help continued to pour into the community throughout the day.
By noon, the number had reached more than 200 emergency responders representing 30 agencies.
Despite the extensive devastation, a preliminary survey showed no deaths or serious injuries.
On Saturday, emergency workers were conducting a second, more extensive search to make sure they didn’t miss anyone.
“We consider ourselves at roughly 70% going through each site twice,” Roosevelt said.
Officials will not allow volunteers to enter affected residential areas until this secondary research is completed.
US 54, Kellogg’s stretch eastward, opened eastbound lanes in the afternoon. Westbound lanes remain closed from No. 159 in the west to Santa Fe Lake Road in the east, until further notice.
“You can either go to 21st Street or KS254 to get to Wichita,” Andover Police Captain Ben Graber said.
All other major routes through Andover are open.
About 15,000 Evergy customers lost power during the cyclone. The company had restored power to all but 1,200 customers by 10 a.m.
Any broken gas and water lines were shut down, and by noon there were no known active leaks.
Andover wasn’t the only region ravaged by Friday’s violent storm.
Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple told The Eagle in a phone interview Saturday morning that the city’s fire department has estimated 20 to 25 buildings within the Wichita city limits. It was not immediately clear where they were and what damage they had suffered.
At least 21 homes in the southeastern part of Sedgwick County where the hurricane began have been destroyed, said Sedgwick County Commissioner Pete Metzner, who spent part of the day touring neighborhoods devastated by the storm, “some of which were flattened.”
The National Weather Service received its first report of a tornado around 8:10 p.m. in the area south of 127th Street and East 39th Street, a meteorologist said Saturday.
Metzner said the damage to the adjacent neighborhood, around South 31st Street and 130th Street, was “unbelievable.”
One of the houses was 10 feet from its foundation. “It was picked up and dropped,” he said. The owner’s wife was sitting on a chair in the front corner when this happened.
Another house, Metzner said, was “turned off its foundations” and “flattened.” When its owner emerged from the ruins, he realized that his wife had been buried. The commissioner said he eventually found her, but she had a broken back and is in the hospital.
“I was humbled, surprised to see the destruction of Andover,” Metzner said. The damage to homes on the Sedgwick County side from the storm “was something else.”
This story was originally published April 30, 2022 1:44 pm.