BARTON COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – Authorities said one person was hurt but refused treatment when a tornado touched down Tuesday night in central Kansas. Officials estimate that 20 homes in central Kansas were destroyed. The twister touched down just after 8 p.m. near Pawnee Rock and traveled up to K-4 Highway just west of Hoisington. The tornado was on the ground for about 12 miles. Barton County communications said sirens provided plenty of warning.
Damage from the storm
Right now, officials are surveying the damage, and volunteers are beginning the cleanup.
In Pawnee Rock, two homes were destroyed, and seven others were heavily damaged. Several trees were also down. A gas leak forced two to three homes to be evacuated for a time.
“You could feel it and everything got calm. I got the door to lock, and I ran down to the basement, and you could feel the house shake and vibrating. Then, it was just done, and it was over and we could hear our pastor beating on our door to see if we were ok. It just went by so fast, everything, instant,” said Donna Werner, Pawnee County resident.
To the west of Great Bend, two more homes were destroyed, and two others were heavily damaged on West Barton County Road. Barton County spokeswoman Donna Zimmerman said five other homes were also damaged.
Dan and Joice Wapelhorst’s home was destroyed.
“We looked out the back door, and I didn’t see nothing, and then, it got dead still. I went out of the south side of garage, and it was out there in that field,” Waplehorst said. “I went in and got my wife and my daughter and said lets get to the cellar. I couldn’t get the door shut. It was pulling on me. I finally got it shut. In five seconds, it was over.”
National Weather Service Meteorologist Mike Umscheid will be out to assess the extent of the damage.
Barton County Emergency Management Director Amy Miller said they should have an estimate of damages later today.
Anyone in Barton County needing assistance can call 620-793-1835. The county has declared a local disaster and waived landfill fee for anyone who has tornado damage.
Citizens are urged to stay away from the affected areas of Barton County. Power lines are down throughout the county.
Hail damage near Garden City
In addition, large hail was reported in the Garden City area. Golf ball to baseball size hail was reported in the Holcomb area.
Garden City resident Corey Becker said his camper sustained some damage.
“It looks like I’ve got windows busted out,” said Becker. “I’ve got camper skylights broke out, roof damage.”
Becker, who repairs cars, said some of his customers’ vehicles were damaged with broken windows and lots of dents.
Gallery: May 16, 2017 severe storms in western Kansas
Gallery: May 16, 2017 severe storms in western Kansas x
Power companies are also trying to restore power to Pawnee Rock and other parts of Kansas this morning.
Midwest Energy said there are about 15 different outage areas affecting 184 people in Barton County and the northeast part of Pawnee County.
RELATED LINK | Midwest Energy outages