Archive for Thursday, March 16, 2006

Hail, strong winds pummel area

March 16, 2006

Ervin Marshall watched Sunday morning's clouds take Linwood by storm.

"It was like a giant shadow just fell," Marshall said, describing the black cloud that descended on the city.

Later, Marshall and his teenage buddies would gather at the corner of Second and Main, climbing in an American elm tree that lay blocking the street.

Jessie Paulsen saw the tree go down.

"It was blowing really hard and the tree fell over," Jessie said.

But the tree's fall, amid the gales of wind, was silent, he said.

"All I could hear was the wind blowing," Jessie said.

As firefighters from Leavenworth County Fire District No. 1 and the city of Tonganoxie arrived to clear the tree from the road, the boys stepped aside and watched.

About 15 minutes after the buzz of chainsaws began, the tree was cut up and stacked along the street.

Just before the tree went down, Donna and Stan Bentsen were in the upstairs bedroom of their home at Second and Main.

When they bought the two-story house two years ago, they were impressed with its 50-some windows. Their bedroom alone had 13 windows.

And Sunday morning, the Bentsens were all too aware of every one of them.

"The glass was bowing," Bentsen said. "You could see the glass bending in. The curtains were blowing. We thought the glass was coming out."

Donna and Stan raced for safety.

"We were running downstairs because the house was shaking," Donna Bentsen said. "We were headed for the basement."

But just as suddenly as the storm started, it stopped Bentsen said.

And later as the she and her husband surveyed their house, they were amazed to learn the windows of their 100-year-old house were still intact, and a towering oak east of the house was still standing.

"We had always worried about that tree falling on a house," Donna said.

While the oak stood up to the storm, a tree to the west -- the American elm that shaded the front of their house during the summers -- didn't.

And Bentsen said, fortunately, the tall elm fell in the right direction. Other than pushing up the sidewalk beside the tree's roots, the falling tree didn't damage a thing.

"I'm just so glad it fell the way it did," she said.

Basehor storm

Shortly after the storm swept through Linwood, it hammered Basehor.

At the north end of town, Albert Treff's split-level home's brick exterior held up to the storm.

But his windows didn't.

"It blew out five windows on the west side of my house," said the 77-year-old Treff. "I had hail damage to the roof.

The hail was unusually large, said Treff, who saved five or six hail stones in his freezer.

"I would say it was golfball-sized hail," Treff said. "Some of them looked bigger than that."

Treff said, the wind made the hail even more treacherous.

"It went through the screen," Treff said of the wind-driven hail. "It blew the glass inside, blew the curtains off, turned over some of the furniture and there was hail that went right across the room."

The torrent was short-lived, Treff said, noting he was in a room on the home's south side during the storm.

"When I came out and came in the living room, we had a mess in there," Treff said.

After the storm, family and friends came over and put sheets of plywood over the broken windows in the living room, as well as over two basement windows the storm blew out.

Treff, who has lived in the house since 1954, said this is the worst storm that's hit it.

Monday afternoon, he said he'd contacted his insurance company and an adjustor would be coming out this week.

The work will include new windows, and Treff said, likely the living room carpet as well, because of all the broken glass.

"We just had the new carpet put in four years ago and it sounds like to me we'll have to get new carpet put back in," Treff said.

Though his house was hit by the storm, Treff said he felt fortunate he didn't experience more damage.

"Another 15 minutes (later) I'd have been gone to church," Treff said. "And I'd have had my car out and that would have been worse."

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