Communities come together to help tornado victims in Linwood area
Linwood and Basehor students have been going to school together since the 1980s when the communities combined to form one school district.
The communities continued to be in it together this week with tornado relief following Tuesday’s EF-4 tornado that tore through parts of Douglas and Leavenworth counties.
Local residents dropped off items throughout the day Wednesday at Basehor-Linwood High School. The school district was accepting bottled water, cleaning supplies, gift cards and trash bags.
Ashley Razak, communications coordinator for the Basehor-Linwood school district, said donations filled up 16 truck beds outside Basehor-Linwood High School that were then taken to Linwood.
“We talked with Leavenworth County Emergency Management and the Red Cross to see which items needed to be donated,” Razak said. “We went with that list. It was overwhelming. The people have delivered.”
Groups of students, such as the BLHS football and volleyball teams, have offered to volunteer in the cleanup. Razak said there was some considerable damage to some homes in Linwood proper, but the most damage in town has been tree-related. Much of the severe structure destruction is nearby along Kansas Highway 32.
Officials have determined that no more bottled water donations are needed at this time.
Razak said the updated items on the needs list are batteries and flashlights, trash bags, tarps, mops and brooms, cleaning supplies, paper towels, toilet paper, baby food, diapers, wipes and non-perishable items.
Cleaning supplies would be dish soap, bleach and then floor cleaners, such as Pine Sol.
As for the nonperishable items, canned goods with easy open tops and pre-cooked items are recommended.
Hygiene and health products are being accepted now, as officials welcome bug spray, sunscreen and deodorant.
An Emergency Management official said that residents and crews also would welcome plastic totes, larger containers and safety equipment such as gloves and protective eyewear, as they are much needed at this time.
Officials recommend anyone donating gift cards to purchase grocery store, gasoline or debit gift cards that could be used anywhere. Cards to big box discount stores also would be an option.
Items can be dropped off any day at two staging sites: Linwood Elementary School, 215 Park St., and Sherman Township Fire Station No. 2, 107 E. First St., also in Linwood.
Basehor-Linwood Assistance Services is another local organization that is a resource for helping in tornado relief.
The Linwood area got the brunt of the tornado damage in Leavenworth County, as some 19 homes were completely destroyed, as were two businesses, Free State Growers greenhouse and the Lin-Crest Farms. In total, 50 homes were damaged and there were three minor injuries, according to Leavenworth County Emergency Management.
Victims and volunteers
Emergency Management announced that 2-1-1 of Greater Kansas City will be coordinating information collection to pair people who need storm cleanup assistance with those who would like to volunteer their time to help.
People needing assistance (debris removal, tarp placement, chopping fallen trees, etc.), should dial 2-1-1 on your phone and identify their needs.
They should take photos of damage, but not begin cleanup until an insurance adjuster has been notified, except to protect property from further damage.
Those who would like to volunteer can call 2-1-1 and submit their information.
Lists of people who need help, and people wanting to volunteer will be compiled and provided to Emergency Management.
Other local resources
Leavenworth County Emergency Management posted on available resources in the area on its Facebook page for torna do victims:
l Heart to Heart — mobile medical unit staged at Linwood Elementary School, 215 Park St., Linwood. Point of contact: Randy Stabenow, 913-208-2417.
l Leavenworth Home Depot — mobile truck with building supplies, tarps, sheeting, cleaning, water, etc. Point of contact: Nathan McAleese, 913-705-9169.
Helping Horses Foundation — resource for horse owners in need, 15710 Cedar Lane, Basehor; 913-908-6992.
l The Guidance Center — for family assistance, Linwood Elementary School, 215 Park St.
l Tall Oaks Christian Camp — cabins available for lodging for those in need at 189th Street and Kansas Highway 32. Call 913-301-3004 for more information.
Food and fundraisers
Elm Grove Baptist Church had a disaster relief fundraiser Friday at the church, 15774 Linwood Road, Bonner Springs.
The fundraiser was for victims of the Linwood/Sherman Township tornado. Anyone attending was asked to bring a dish and a monetary donation to the American Red Cross.
There was music, speakers, an update on tornado relief and community fellowship.
Another fundraiser was planned for the weekend, as The Fuel House had a Chris Cakes pancake feed Sunday at 611 W. Second St. in Bonner Springs. All proceeds will benefitted tornado relief.
Many people throughout the area have been assisting Linwood.
That assistance included Gambino’s Pizza in Tonganoxie, which had several pizzas ready to deliver to families and cleanup crews last week, per a Facebook post. After returning last week from the state baseball tournament in Wichita, Tonganoxie High School baseball players volunteered in helping with cleanup efforts.
American Red Cross
The American Red Cross is one of the best ways to help the tornado victims, according to Emergency Management.
Figures from the American Red Cross, as of Tuesday night, showed that the organization provided 107 shelter stays among 10 different shelters throughout the state for flooding and tornado response in May.
It also has served more than 1,010 meals and more than 680 snacks, while distributing more than 40 comfort kits. The organization also has made more than 40 health service contacts.
The American Red Cross serving Kansas Facebook page encouraged volunteers to donate money to the American Red Cross so that the organization has flexibility in using funds to “directly address the needs of those affected.”
Operation Wildlife needs bleach and yellow heavy duty trash bags. OWL didn’t suffer any structural damage, but there was tree damage, along with damage to outside pens, as well as flooding and lots of debris.
Other animal tips
Crystal Blackdeer with the Leavenworth County Humane Society said there are ways people can help with tornado relief when it comes to animals.
l Volunteer to house someone’s pets while they get recovered.
l Shelter any found pets and post photos to social media.
l If you haven’t done so, microchip your animals. This is a good example of why pets are microchipped, so they can be located when lost.
LCHS can be found on Facebook. Its phone number is 913-250-0506.