Tonganoxie damaged after Wednesday’s storm
A storm Wednesday night, July 2 knocked down trees and shut off power to some residents in the city. But for Sylvia Kessinger, owner of Kessinger Real Estate, the true extent of the damage wasn't seen until Thursday morning.
Around 10 a.m., Kessinger walked into her office and found the ceiling in the back completely buckled in. Water was leaking from the roof and some of the acoustic ceiling tile had broken from the weight of the drenched insulation. When she went to inspect the roof from the outside, it didn't look any better. The brick and cement on the southwest corner of the building was bending inward, causing large cracks as it separated from the rest of the building.
"I think it was all of the weight of the water on these old, flat-top buildings," Kessinger said about what caused the collapse.
Mitch Elliot, of Elliot's Unlimited, did a quick inspection of the roof from the ground level.
He said the brick and concrete from the building bent inward because at some point the water wasn't draining properly, causing it to collect on the roof.
As more water began to collect, the pressure on the roof became too much for the structure to handle and it caved in, he said.
Kessinger used the back part of the office as storage. She attempted to salvage what she could, but Elliot told her the entire roof could fall down at any time so she was safer staying out of the building.
Kathy Bard, assistant city administrator, said that for the most part the city survived Wednesday's storm relatively unscratched.
City Hall had received phone calls about down limbs and garbage that had blown onto yards, but nothing very devastating, she said.
A tree just west of Richard Smith's accounting office was knocked over and the new Tonganoxie Water Park lost an umbrella.
Darren Shupe, water park manager, said lifeguards weren't able to close all of the umbrellas in time and one umbrella near the concession stand snapped from the pole. He said it was fortunate that they got everyone out of the pool in time and only lost an umbrella.
"We got everybody out safely and about two minutes later the storm came through," Shupe said.
Downed power line causes scare
Tonganoxie firefighters were busy the same night monitoring downed power lines that eventually were draped over a truck near Pleasant and Laughlin streets.
Fire Chief Dave Bennett said firefighters were called out after 7 p.m. Either wind or lightning, Bennett said, caused part of a tree to fall on a set of power lines. The tree and power lines together caused electrical arcing. That connection caused the tree to catch fire and the power lines to drop. The downed power lines then fell on a Kansas Department of Transportation truck, which was carrying a 50-gallon tank of diesel fuel, that was parked at a nearby residence.
Bennett said there was obvious concern with the power lines near the diesel fuel, but no additional fires broke out.
The situation also caused a temporary power outage in Tonganoxie. Bennett said his "guesstimate" was that a third of the city was without power.
Westar officials later arrived on the scene to tend to the downed lines.