Kansas governor, legislators offer support for Andover after ‘stunning and heartbreaking’ tornado

A preliminary assessment of damage indicated the tornado that struck Andover on Friday night had an intensity rating of EF3 on the 0-5 scale. (Submitted by Gov. Laura Kelly’s office)

by Sherman Smith, Kansas Reflector

Topeka — Gov. Laura Kelly on Saturday surveyed damage in Andover and promised to help the town recover from the large and destructive tornado that tore through the town the night before.

Legislators from the area offered prayers and assistance for the Butler County community. The National Weather Service in Wichita said the severity of damage indicated the tornado had an EF3 intensity on the 0-5 rating scale while on the ground for about 20 minutes.

The governor declared an emergency Friday evening after a large storm system spawned tornadoes, large hail and strong straight-line winds across the state. On Saturday, she traveled to Andover to meet with first responders, local government officials and residents impacted by the storm.

“One thing is clear: Kansans are resilient, and we will get through this together,” Gov. Kelly said. “My administration will work with local leaders to help Kansans impacted by this storm get back on their feet.”

Senate President Ty Masterson, a Republican from Andover, said his own house only lost a few shingles, but the “path of destruction was enormous, with hundreds of homes, businesses, or other structures destroyed or damaged.”

“I am deeply appreciative of all who are helping our community of Andover as we assess the devastating impact of the tornado,” Sen. Masterson said. “The extent of the damage is stunning and heartbreaking, and we are so thankful no lives were lost. As Andover recovers and rebuilds, we stand ready to assist those in need. Prayers continue.”

Rep. Susan Humphries, a Wichita Republican whose district includes Andover, said the community “suffered a sudden and devastating loss.”

“My family and I offer our heartfelt prayers to those most directly affected by last night’s storm,” Rep. Humphries said. “We are with you, and we will stand and work beside you. Our gratitude goes out to the agencies and individuals who work tirelessly to keep us safe and support our community.”

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Officials assessing damage from tornado that hit Wichita, Andover

Despite extensive damage to several neighborhoods, authorities say only four people were injured in Friday night’s storm.

The Andover YMCA was heavily damaged during Friday night’s storm. Employees and members took shelter inside the building when the tornado hit. No one was injured. (Photo from Wichita Police Department)

by Tom Shine, KMUW and Kansas News Service

Wichita — Officials are continuing to assess the damage caused by a tornado Friday night that hit southeast Wichita and Andover.

Andover Fire Chief Chad Russell said Saturday that four people suffered minor injuries in the storm. He said no people remain unaccounted for.

More than 200 emergency responders from 30 agencies were continuing to search through the debris as a cautionary move.

Andover Fire Department officials say about 1,000 buildings and homes were damaged in Sedgwick and Butler counties. It said the tornado caused damage along a six-mile path.

Russell said some neighborhoods in Andover were “damaged enough that houses were completely blown down” and cited areas that suffered “very bad damage.”

Among the buildings hit was the Andover YMCA, near Kellogg and Andover Road. YMCA officials said the building “suffered significant damage” from the storm.

It said employees and members inside the building took shelter as the tornado approached. No one was injured.

The Andover YMCA remains closed until further notice.

Prairie Creek Elementary School, which is just south of the YMCA, also was damaged by the tornado. District officials planned to assess the damage Saturday.

Andover’s City Hall, near Central and Andover Road, also suffered damage.

Officials set up an emergency shelter at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Andover. Russell said no one used the shelter Friday night.

Ironically, St. Vincent was destroyed in the April 1991 tornado that struck Andover. That storm killed 21 people in Wichita and Andover.

The Kansas Department of Transportation said parts of U.S. 54-400 remain closed between 159th Street to Santa Fe Lake Road. Crews are trying to clear the road of downed power lines.

More than 15,000 people were without power after the storm Friday night. Westar said that power had been restored to all but 1,200 customers.

Russell, the fire chief, asked people to continue to avoid the area so emergency crews can complete their assessment. He said city officials will let volunteers know when they can help with the clean up.

Officials also said private drones are banned from the area. Authorities are using a plane from the Kansas Highway Patrol and drones from the Andover Police Department to survey the damage.

The United Way of the Plains is coordinating donations for a relief fund. People can donate at unitedwayplains.org.

The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health and their connection to public policy.

Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished by news media at no cost with proper attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org.

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