Tornado Andover Kansas: Dozens of buildings leveled after a mighty tornado rips through the Wichita area

The tornado landed in Sedgewick County before traveling to Andover, Butler County, city fire chief Chad Russell said during a news conference. More than 950 buildings were in the tornado’s path, he said.

“We’ve had a lot of buildings in Andover suffering very heavy damage,” Russell said, adding that some houses were “completely torn down.”

The tornado was classified as EF-3 based on a preliminary damage survey by the National Weather Service in Wichita. More details will likely emerge when the survey is complete, but an EF-3 rating would mean the twister’s winds ranged between 136 and 165 mph.

Recovery will take years, Russell said. “Unfortunately, we’ve been through this before,” he added, alluding to the devastation caused by an F-5 tornado that hit Andover on April 26, 1991. Seventeen people died in the wake of that tornado.
Although the damage was extensive on Friday, only a handful of injuries were reported by authorities as of early Saturday.

Andover, a city of about 15,000, is about 22 kilometers east of Wichita, Kansas.

Some of the damage caused by the tornado in Andover, Kansas.

Resident Alaina Adkins told CNN she took refuge in her neighbor’s basement across the street from her apartment complex when the tornado passed.

“I just couldn’t believe it. It just didn’t feel real,” said the 26-year-old. “We walked out the front door and he was coming straight to our house,” she said.

The tornado missed his home by a block, but power in his neighborhood was cut, Adkins added.

More than 20,000 homes and businesses in Kansas were without power shortly afterward. By 4 am ET, that number had dropped to around 8,500, according to poweroutage.us.

Videos and photos showed destroyed houses, overturned cars and storm debris littering streets and gardens.

In an initial estimate, Jim Jonas, director of communications for Wichita, said that between 50 and 100 structures were damaged by the tornado.

One of those buildings was a YMCA community center in Andover, which suffered significant damage, said city administrator Jennifer McCausland.

14 tornadoes reported in Kansas or Nebraska

The National Weather Service in Wichita sent teams on Saturday to conduct damage surveys.

Russell said there were no additional injuries reported, no fatalities and no rescues pending at Andover.

“We will continue to work to make final assessments of all search and rescue issues, and that is our primary objective for this period of operations today,” he said.

As cleanup work begins Saturday morning, Russell said, the main objective is to get crews to the power lines across the road on Highway 54 in Andover. “They have a lot of work out there. But if we can clear this road, we can open it,” said the fire chief.

Several tornadoes hit Kansas Friday, according to Governor Laura Kelly, who declared a state of emergency for disaster.

“We’ve learned from past experiences that we can’t wait for the storm to come before we respond,” Kelly said. “By taking these steps early, we can react more quickly when counties ask for assistance.”

More than 40 million people are under severe storm threat this weekend

A total of 15 tornadoes — 14 of which were in Kansas or Nebraska — were reported on Friday, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Forecast Center. The other tornado was in Florida, the center said.

In addition, there were over 70 reports of wind damage and over 50 reports of hail.

In Enterprise, Kansas, there was hail up to four inches in diameter.

On Saturday, the storm is expected to move eastward, where more than 40 million people are under the general threat of severe storms.

A level 2 out of 5 risk for severe storms has been issued and includes Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis and Little Rock.

“Severe thunderstorms associated with a threat of wind damage and hail are possible on Saturday from the Mississippi Valley north to the west of the Great Lakes,” the Storm Forecast Center said, “Some tornadoes can also occur”.

CNN’s Rebekah Riess, Paradise Afshar, Andy Rose, Taylor Ward, Allison Chinchar and Sharif Paget contributed to this report.

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