3 injured, significant damage reported after tornado activity in Kansas

At least 3 people suffered injuries following tornado activity in the Wichita, Kansas, area Friday evening, officials said.

Tornado activity damaged dozens of structures between Sedgwick and Butler Counties.

The injuries reported occurred in Sedgwick County, where at least one tornado first formed. Two were non-critical injuries and one was serious, according to Kevin Lanterman, interim director of Sedgwick County EMS.

Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple said after speaking with the city manager that around 50 to 100 buildings in the region were damaged.

On Saturday morning, the damage across the city of Andover in Butler County was evident, NBC affiliate KSN of Wichita reported.

Andover Fire Chief Chad Russell told reporters that 966 structures in the city were in the storm’s path.

“We had many buildings in Andover take very strong damage,” Russell said. “Some of our neighborhoods damaged badly enough that the houses were completely blown down.”

A tornado appears to form near Wichita, Kansas on Friday.Jett Rossi/@gingyrossi31 via Twitter

A damage assessment had not been completed Saturday morning and it was not immediately clear how many of the buildings were damaged, but city hall had sustained some damage.

The Greater Wichita YMCA said in a statement that the YMCA of Andover, to the east of the city, sustained “significant damage.”

“We are thankful that all of the staff and members that took shelter at the branch at the time of the storm, were not injured,” the YMCA said.

Damage assessment teams from the National Weather Service went out to the area Saturday morning, the organization said.

“These assessments take time so please be patient. Be mindful of our first responders and residents thus avoid the damaged areas,” the National Weather Service said on Twitter.

Russell said officials believed no rescues were outstanding, but additional assessments were being conducted.

Scott Stueven, Butler County EMS deputy chief, said they received five requests for EMS patients, including two firefighters. One was hospitalized and both were in “good shape,” he said.

Most reports of injuries have been for minor cuts, scratches and fall victims, he said, with no critical injuries.

Andover police said most of the city’s major intersections were blocked by debris or downed utility lines.

More than 22,000 utility customers in Kansas were without electricity following the storm, according to PowerOutage.us.

Sedgwick County Emergency Management Director Julie Stimson said by email that authorities were still assessing damage. She told NBC affiliate KSN of Wichita that county workers are going to door-to-door to check on residents.

“We have power outages,” she said. “There is damage. We do not need onlookers at this time.”

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly urged residents to remain alert as severe weather moved across the state Friday night.

“We are monitoring the storm system closely, and I’ve activated our disaster response and recovery plan,” she tweeted.

Officials in Sedgwick County declared an emergency as they activated its emergency operations center, according to a statement. The declaration will help the county obtain state aid, officials said.

Sedgwick County Emergency Management Director Julie Stimson said by email that authorities were still assessing damage. She told KSN of Wichita that county workers are going to door-to-door to check on residents.

“We have power outages,” she said. “There is damage. We do not need onlookers at this time.”

The National Weather Service blamed a strong storm system in the center of the Lower 48 that was drawing precipitation from the Gulf of Mexico while producing strong wind shear.

“There will be the potential for significant tornadoes, destructive wind gusts and very large hail with a focus over southeastern Nebraska into eastern Kansas,” the service said in a forecast discussion Friday.

The National Weather Service warned of thunderstorms in Nebraska and Kansas that could fuel tornadoes as strong as EF 2, which defines twisters with winds of 113 to 157 mph.

The storms Friday “have potential to produce very large hail, damaging winds, and tornadoes, some of which could be strong,” the office stated.

Joe Studley, Janhvi Bhojwani and Courtney Brogle contributed.



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