Serious damage after twister in Kansas
Eureka, Kan. — A tornado ripped through southeast Kansas late Thursday, causing widespread damage in a small town, though no injuries have been reported.
The National Weather Service confirmed that at about 10 p.m. Thursday, the tornado struck Eureka, a town of roughly 2,600 residents about 60 miles east of Wichita. The tornado damaged about 50 homes and businesses, including the Eureka Nursing Center, which lost its south and west-facing walls, The Wichita Eagle reported.
Residents of the nursing home took shelter in the facility and were likely to be moved to a different facility on Friday.
“The tornado started at the northwest part of the county and went through Eureka,” said Levi Vinson, the Greenwood County emergency management director.
Vinson said everyone has been accounted for, but crews were still “checking on some people.”
The National Weather Service alerted Eureka’s residents to the incoming storm Thursday night at least 15 minutes before the tornado hit, he said.
“We were notified and we sounded the emergency alert outdoor warning sirens,” Vinson said. “The leeway they provided us, I think, is what benefited us on the lack of injuries.”
Kevin Darmofal, a meteorologist with the weather service in Wichita, said a damage survey team would likely be in Eureka early Friday.
Also Friday, the state adjutant general’s office said in a release that Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a state of disaster emergency declaration for Greenwood County. The declaration allows the state to use its resources and personnel in response to the tornado, which the office said damaged about 50 homes and businesses and also left scores without power throughout the county.
Kelly Johnson, a nurse who works at the nursing center, drove from her home in Wichita to Eureka after hearing reports of the storm. She climbed over debris to enter one of the facility’s hallways, where she visited some residents.
“I just checked on one of the residents who is 100 years old,” Johnson said. “She was sleeping. People always said that Eureka is in a valley, so it wouldn’t get hit by a tornado. When I heard, I had to come.”