Wichita area picks up pieces after EF3 tornado - KCTV5 News

Wichita area picks up pieces after EF3 tornado

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© Travis Heying/Wichita Eagle © Travis Heying/Wichita Eagle
© Stacey Cameron/KCTV5 © Stacey Cameron/KCTV5

Residents are working to pick up the pieces after dozens of homes were damaged following a tornado Saturday night in Sedgwick County.

The National Weather Service said its preliminary assessment has concluded the tornado was an EF3.

No deaths were reported.

According to the Sedgwick County Emergency Operations Center, 17 injuries were reported. Thirteen people were taken to Via Christi Hospital in Wichita. Three were admitted and are still in the hospital. Four were taken to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita. One was admitted and is still there.

The state of Kansas is seeking federal emergency funds to help the area recover.

Residents woke up Sunday morning to significant damage in the Oaklawn area. A mobile home park took a direct hit, and residents worked Sunday to salvage their belongings.

State officials say 57 mobile homes were destroyed, 35 mobile homes damaged more than 50 percent and 61 mobile homes were damaged less than 50 percent.

Six other homes were reported destroyed, three were damaged and a condominium was damaged, according to a news release. All buildings at the Spirit Aerosystems facility received some damage; six sustained significant damage. Other damage in the county included a gas line rupture, debris and downed power poles. About 100 area residents were sheltered overnight by the American Red Cross in Derby; 25 are still being sheltered.

The state of Kansas is seeking federal emergency funds to help the area recover.

The Boeing facility is among the areas in which damage has been reported. Boeing has suspended operations and will assess conditions before resuming full operations. The plant was slated to be closed permanently next year.

KWCH reported more than 25,000 households were without power at the height of the storm.

Initial reports indicted the airport had been damaged but that turned out to be unfounded.

Street flooding was reported immediately following the storm.

In Wichita, a nursing home lost its roof and other damage to homes and businesses were reported by emergency management crews.

The tornado struck just after 10 p.m. Saturday. The damage reports primarily are in south and east Wichita. The Boeing facility suffered extensive damage. McConnell Air Force Base also saw significant damage.

At least 97 tornadoes were reported in Kansas, mostly in rural parts of the western and central sections of the state. 

Sedgwick County was declared a state of disaster and said preliminary estimates suggest damage could be as high as $300 million.

Yvonne Tucker rushed to a shelter with about 60 of her neighbors at Pinnaire Mobile Home Park. She said people were crying and screaming, and the shelter's lights went out when the twister hit. When they came back outside, they found several homes destroyed, including Tucker's.

"I didn't think it was that bad until I walked down my street and everything is gone," said Tucker, 49. "I don't know what to do. I don't know where to go. I've seen it on TV, but when it happens to you, it is unreal. I just feel lost."

Kristin Dean said she was shaking as she was being pushed from her mobile home in her wheelchair. She was able to grab a bag of her possessions before going into the shelter and that was all she had left. Her home was gone.

"It got still," said the 37-year-old woman, who's in a wheelchair after hurting her leg a month ago, as she recalled of the scene inside the shelter. "Then we heard a wham, things flying. Everybody screamed, huddling together. It is devastating, but, you know, we are alive."

The National Weather Service used its new warning language for the first time in Kansas on Saturday night when issuing a notice about the Wichita tornado. The weather service used harsh language in noting it was a life-threatening situation and Wichita residents should immediately take cover.

The National Weather Service even evacuated its Wichita operations for a time, handing over control to Topeka until the storm passed.

Woodward, OK, took a direct hit from a tornado early Sunday. At least five were killed. Significant damage was reported.

Kansas Emergency Management spokeswoman Sharon Watson said Rice County inmates had to be transferred after the jail was damaged and downed power lines closed roads and highways in several central and western counties.

The sheriff's office was damaged and the jail's roof was blown off.  Rice County 911 dispatch center has been transferred to the regional 911 back-up center, according to a news release.

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