More than 1,000 buildings affected by Andover, KS tornado


Tornado tears through Andover, Kansas

A tornado touched down in south-central Kansas on Friday night, leaving damage in its wake, but few injuries. Residents in the Wichita area, Andover and Sedgwick and Butler counties are picking up the pieces.

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More than 1,000 buildings were affected when a strong tornado swept through Andover on Friday evening. Search and rescue operations were continuing Saturday, officials said in a noon briefing.

As the sun rose over the ravaged community, local emergency officials found a more widespread path of destruction than was estimated earlier.

“We now know that our damage path extended approximately 3 1/2 to four miles to the north of where we believed it to have ended last night,” Andover Deputy Fire Chief Mike Roosevelt said.

Assistance continued to pour into the community throughout the day.

By noon, the tally had reached more than 200 emergency responders representing 30 agencies.

Despite the widespread destruction, a preliminary survey turned up no fatalities and no critical injuries.

On Saturday, emergency workers were going through a second, more thorough search to make sure they hadn’t missed anybody.

“We consider ourselves to be about at the 70% level of having gone through every location twice,” Roosevelt said.

Officials are not letting volunteers into the affected residential areas until that secondary search is completed.

US 54, the extension of Kellogg heading east, opened eastbound lanes in the afternoon. Westbound lanes remained closed from 159th on the west to Santa Fe Lake Road on the east, until further notice.

“You can either go to 21st Street or KS254 to get to Wichita,” said Andover Police Capt. BenGraber.

All other major roads through Andover are open.

About 15,000 Evergy customers lost electricity during the tornado. The company had restored power to all but 1,200 customers by 10 am

Any broken gas and water lines were shut off and by noon there were no known active leaks.

Andover wasn’t the only area ripped apart by Friday’s violent storm.

Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple told The Eagle in a Saturday morning phone interview that the city’s fire department had estimated 20 to 25 structures inside Wichita city limits had been impacted. It wasn’t immediately clear exactly where those were at and what damage they sustained.

Sedgwick County Commissioner Pete Meitzner, who spent part of the day touring storm-ravaged neighborhoods, said at least 21 homes in the southeastern portion of Sedgwick County where the tornado started were devastated, “some flattened.”

The National Weather Service received its first report about the tornado around 8:10 pm in the area of ​​south 127th Street and east 39th Street, a meteorologist said Saturday.

The destruction in the nearby neighborhood, around 31st Street South and 130th Street, is “unbelievable,” Meitzner said.

“One house was 10 feet away from its foundation. It was picked up and dropped,” he said. The owner’s wife was sitting in a recliner in the front corner when it happened.

Another home “flipped off of its foundation” and was “flattened,” Meitzner said. When its owner emerged from the debris, he realized his wife had been buried. Eventually he found her, but she suffered a broken back and is in the hospital, the commissioner said.

“I was already humbled, taken aback by seeing the Andover destruction,” Meitzner said. The damage to the homes on the Sedgwick County side of the storm “was something else.”

This story was originally published April 30, 2022 1:44 PM.

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Opinion Editor Dion Lefler has been providing award-winning coverage of local government, politics and business as a reporter in Wichita for 23 years. Dion hails from Los Angeles, where he worked for the LA Daily News, the Pasadena Star-News and other papers. He’s a father of twins, director of lay servant ministries in the United Methodist Church and plays second base for the Old Cowtown vintage baseball team.

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