Suspected tornado damages Kansas communities, injures residents


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Kansas officials said Saturday they were assessing the damage after tornadoes ripped through communities and softball-sized hailstorms battered residents.

In Andover, a tornado injured several people and initially left more than 6,500 people without power.

That total was reduced to 2,500 on Saturday morning, according to tracker PowerOutage.US.

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Andover Police Department tweeted that roads were blocked at most major intersections due to downed power lines and large debris.

Saturday morning, Highway 54 through Andover remained closed.

“We have a lot of morning commuters trying to get to/from Wichita and Augusta. Please avoid Andover and Highway 54,” the department urged.

“The town of Andover has sustained tornado damage, please avoid coming to town at this time. We are uncertain of the extent of the damage, emergency crews are responding,” the service wrote on Friday. Andover fire on Facebook.

According to Andover Fire Chief Chad Russell, the suspected tornado there – a massive, seething threat captured causing explosions in Twitter Video by meteorologist and storm chaser Reed Timmer – affected 50 to 100 buildings in Sedgwick County.

Russell said some homes “were completely swept away” and more than 900 structures were in the path of the suspected tornado, including City Hall.

A tornado touched down near Andover, Kansas, about 10 miles east of Wichita on Friday, April 29.
(Reuters Market – Spectee Video)

The Andover YMCA branch wrote that it sustained significant damage from the storm, but staff and members were unharmed.

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In Sedgwick County, three people were injured, including a seriously injured woman.

Fox 4 said Butler County EMS Deputy Chief Scott Stueven explained that the EMS treated five patients, including two firefighters.

The station said one of those firefighters was taken to a local hospital.

Sedgwick County reported Saturday that damage assessments were underway Saturday and Wichita Fire Department Rescue Teams 1 and 2 were helping citizens navigate debris and escort people to shelter.

“The Sedgwick County Fire Department Task Force 5, which is a multi-agency task force that responds to rescue-related events, and the Regional Hazmat Team have been deployed and continue to support fire service citizens. Sedgwick County and Butler and Andover County Fire,” the government wrote.

Trees were felled and the county noted that an Evergy power plant had been damaged.

In response to the storms, Governor Laura Kelly signed a disaster emergency declaration.

“An intense spring storm system that moved across Kansas on the evening of April 29 with large hail and strong straight-line winds spawned multiple tornadoes causing damage to buildings, trees and power lines in several In response to these storms, Governor Laura Kelly declared a state of disaster emergency effective 8:57 p.m. April 29. The declaration activates the disaster response and recovery components of the plan. Kansas Response Plan, authorizing state resources to bolster local jurisdictions with response and recovery efforts in affected areas statewide,” his office wrote.

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“We have learned from past experience that we cannot wait for the storm to hit before we respond,” Kelly said in a statement. “By taking these steps early, we are able to respond more quickly when counties ask for help.”

The National Weather Service (NWS) would be on site Saturday to inspect the damaged areas, according to Fox Weather.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.




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