Kiowa still recovering from storm damage

KIOWA, Kan. (KSNW) – Barber County residents are still picking up the pieces from a storm that shook up an entire town, including a high school that’s working double time to get the campus back in order before school starts. KSN was in Kiowa the day after the storm earlier this month and went back Tuesday to speak to residents about how they are recovering.

The National Weather Service told the folks that live in Kiowa that the damage was caused by a five-minute downward micro burst. This was something that Kiowa had never seen before. However, to the residents that actually live in Kiowa, this was just a really bad day that stretched them thin.

“Things like this can really take a lifetime to recover from,” said Greg Miller, Kiowa resident. “People sometimes forget about us out here because we are a very small town.”

Now, it’s all about the recovery and for some folks like Greg, that suffered extensive damage, he’s willing to get things back in order by any means necessary.

“These guys came from Oklahoma,” explained Greg. “Sometimes it does requires favors; sometimes a lot of them. I may not have any favors left after this ordeal.”

This ordeal left Kiowa residents without power for nearly a week and Greg without a car. At the time of the storm, it was parked inside of his garage that collapsed. These damages are similar to those that South Barber High School has been working to recover from.

“Somewhere in the scheme of things, things went in all directions,” said Andi Williams, South Barber’s superintendent. “Our field was basically picked up and thrown across the field.”

Andi tells KSN they are hoping to have home games but folks will need to bring lawn chairs for seating.

“It’s just really shocking how much damage was created in such a short period of time,” said Andi.

She adds that they are still finding new damage everyday which so far has included; fences, windows, leaks and other structures around campus. Damages that will be covered under the school’s insurance but Kiowa’s city manager, Lou Leone, says the rest of the town won’t be so lucky.

“FEMA denied our claim,” said Leone. “It cost us $100,000 just to get our power back up but according to the FEMA guidelines our total dollars in damage doesn’t meet the requirements which, is typical for small towns but it doesn’t make it right.”

Leone is currently waiting on a response from the state senator as to if the town will receive any assistance for what the storm damaged.

“Things like this really can set a small town like Kiowa back 20 years,” said Leone.

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