Archive for Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Structural losses top $1.2 million

May 7, 2003

The amount of damage to Leavenworth County homes and other buildings from Sunday's tornado has topped $1.2 million, according to officials with the appraiser's office.

Lt. Jim Murray of the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Department said county appraisers reported individuals lost structures worth $1,258,082.

Homes destroyed or badly damaged at 166th Street and Kansas Avenue by Sunday's tornado:

Facing west on 166th Street

¢ Kevin and Patricia Berberich, house destroyed, but part of home's structure still visible.

Facing north on Kansas Avenue (homes listed from corner going east

¢ Harry and Leah Hicks, house flattened, camper trailer overturned.

¢ Kathleen McKinley, house flattened.

¢ Kevin and Paula Ellis, house badly damaged but still standing.

That doesn't include land or personal property, such as vehicles.

"That doesn't count public funds," he said.

Murray said officials in the county had determined that five homes were destroyed in an area along Kansas Avenue between 168th and 160th streets.

Another five homes had major damage, while 15 others received minor damage in the tornado, which the National Weather Service has rated an F-2 storm packing winds up to 150 mph.

Only two injuries -- both minor -- were reported, he said.

"To my knowledge, they were not transported to any medical facility," Murray said.

And although an emergency shelter had been established for storm victims at Basehor-Linwood High School, no one took advantage of it, he said.

"That's pretty fortunate that people either had neighbors, friends or relatives to go to," Murray said.

KPL crews swung into action after the storm, as did volunteer firefighters from throughout the county.

"They got everything assessed pretty quickly," Murray said.

The governor signed a presidential declaration for assistance.

Murray credited the advance warning residents had -- from sirens and television and radio reports -- for helping keep injuries low.

"I think that helped a lot, plus we had advance notice -- before the tornado warning, we had the tornado watch," Murray said.

About 90 minutes before the tornado hit, storm spotters went to their designated stations throughout the county. At 3:45 p.m., a report of a funnel near Jarbalo was called in. Murray said the county received varying reports about whether that tornado touched ground, but he added that it damaged trees in the Jarbalo area.

"Then the officers started spotting the ones down south that really got with it," Murray said.

A tornado was spotted near Leavenworth County Road 1 and Golden Road. That twister, which damaged outbuildings and homes in the area, stormed northeast.

"It went all of the way from there to the southwest edge of Basehor," Murray said. "It lifted up, and picked up again on the other side of the state line."

Murray, who was returning to his home in Leavenworth from a trip to visit his daughter in Gardner, actually witnessed the funnel as it crossed Kansas Highway 7 near Leavenworth Road.

"My daughter called me on my phone," he said. "She got scared and upset with me and said, 'Dad, you ought to get on home.' I just drove like fury heading north. I knew better than to sit there and watch it coming right at me."

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