Severe weather rattles county
Officials report $479,000 in structural damages at hands of tornado
There was no question about a tornado touching down near Tonganoxie as people approached the home of Betty Scott and her son, Charlie. Large sections of the roof of the house, located at the northeast corner of County Road 25 and Interstate 70, have been torn off, and broken windows are now covered with blue tarps. In the back yard, a small pickup truck is turned upside down and the windows of another car are broken out.
Debris scatters the yard, and a collapsed metal barn still serves as a reminder of Saturday’s scary events.
“By the time we knew (the tornado) was here, we barely made it to the bathroom,” said Betty Scott of taking cover. “It only took a few seconds and then it was gone.”
Scott, who is in a wheelchair and lives in the house with her son, said she didn’t know exactly how to describe the sound of the storm except to say that the wind was loud and moving fast.
Scott was able to stay with a neighbor the first night after the storm and has since moved back into her home. The cleanup of her land hasn’t begun, but she said it will get done in the short term and that insurance would help with the cost.
Saturday’s stormy weather, which started about 5:45 p.m. and lasted through the night, left the greatest damage along Douglas Road and Leavenworth County Road 25, where a tornado touched down just a few miles away from Interstate 70.
The tornado was 50 to 75 yards wide and traveled northeast for about nine miles, said Leavenworth County Emergency Preparedness Director Chuck Magaha.
Magaha noted there were a total of eight homes damaged in the storm. Five of the homes had minor damage and three had major damage.
There was a total of $479,000 in structural damage from Saturday’s storm. He said that did not include damage to personal property.
No injuries were reported, but six homes, including Scott’s, had minor to moderate damage.
In the tornado’s aftermath, metal debris hung off power lines, vehicles were flipped over and barns were crushed.
“The tornado went right over our house. It sounded like a freight train,” said Andrea Ford, who lives along Douglas Road. Half of a roof from a nearby barn had landed on her house and ruined her boyfriend’s trailers.
A few miles away, Daniel Oelschlaeger was attending a friend’s surprise 50th birthday party, held in a tent. As he was seeking shelter, he saw the tornado touch the ground.
“The surprise was the tornado,” he said.
Half a mile away, John Wickey saw a small funnel and debris in the air. His house was unharmed, so he decided to check on his neighbors.
“We have never been hit head-on this hard in this area, but it’s been very close,” he said.
Michaela Moore and Angie Moss saw the tornado heading from the southwest when they decided to take cover in their basement with two other adults and five kids.
“It looked like it was coming straight for the house,” Moore said.
Moss’s home along Douglas Road was undamaged, but the barn across the street was destroyed.
“We wondered how it missed this house and took that one,” Moore said. “And how lucky we are.”
Everett and Carol Oelschlaeger, who live on 214th Street south of I-70, experienced a great deal of damage to their property.
“It took all of our outbuildings down,” Everett Oelschlaeger said.
There was one building he said was used for a hog barn about 400 yards east of the house.
“It just took it,” he said. “We haven’t found any of the metal that was on it yet.”
Everett said about 30 relatives and neighbors helped with the cleanup on Sunday.
“We worked all day yesterday and still didn’t get it all cleaned up,” he said, noting that he appreciated all the help he and his wife received in cleanup efforts.
— Nicole Kelley and Shawn Linenberger contributed to this story