More than 90 homes damaged in EF2, EF3 tornadoes

Published: Jul. 7, 2016 at 10:09 PM CDT
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UPDATE - 6:00 pm: The National Weather Service says the EF-3 tornado that hit Eureka on Thursday was only the fifth EF-3 tornado to strike in Kansas in the month of July since 1950.

No Kansas tornadoes that have hit in July have ever been rated above an EF-3.

The last EF-3 to hit Kansas in July struck last year on the 13th near Nickerson in Reno county.

The NWS says a July 20, 1958 strike in Wallace County was the latest hit before that.


UPDATE - 2:00 pm: The National Weather Service says two tornadoes touched down in the town of Eureka Thursday night.

Two agency says one tornado occurred northwest of Eureka and a second tornado went through the City of Eureka.

The first tornado has been rated an EF-3. The second is rated an EF-2.

Greenwood County interim Sheriff Heath Samuels says 92 homes were affected by the tornado.

He said said six homes were a total loss, 13 have major damage, 29 have minor damage and 44 others were affected in some other way.

No injuries or fatalities have been reported with the storms.


UPDATE - 10:00 am: Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a State of Disaster Emergency declaration for Greenwood County.

That declaration authorizes the use of state resources and personnel to assist with response and recovery operations.

The governor's office says the tornado damaged approximately 50 homes and businesses, but no fatalities or serious injuries were reported.

There are still many people without power in the area.

The governor's office says a volunteer reception area will be coordinated through the United Way to help organize volunteer efforts.


UPDATE--6:30 a.m.: As the sun comes up, we're getting a better look at the damage in Eureka from a tornado overnight.

Greenwood County Sheriff Heath Samuels says search and rescue crews have had to deal with flat tires at first, so they brought in heavy equipment to help clean away some of the debris.

Crews are going door-to-door to make sure everyone is okay. So far, there are no reports of any injuries.

Westar crews are working to restore power to the entire town. Sheriff Samuels says the focus ins on the north end of town, to restore power to the hospital.

Samuels says they've had a great turnout of volunteers willing to help.

"Out in the rural areas, we have neighbors checking on neighbors and that was very good for us because we had some homes that were leveled that we couldn't anybody on sight, our firefighters couldn't, but we were able to contact neighbors and they could account for them," Samuels said.


UPDATE--3 a.m.: Greenwood County Sheriff Heath Samuels says Thursday night's tornado left a damage path that included the north side of Eureka. He says numerous homes were destroyed. He says there is critical damage to the nursing home near 10th and School Street.

"We are still working on checking some of the houses," Samuels said "As of right now, I'd say we're 60-percent cleared."

He says nursing home residents displaced by the tornado were moved to the hospital and a second nursing home in town which were not damaged.

While there's a lot of cleanup ahead Samuels says he's thankful that through Thursday night into Friday morning, no injuries or deaths were reported.

"If we can keep that up, I'll be really happy," he says.


UPDATE--12:30 a.m.: In a media briefing, the Greenwood County Sheriff's Office confirms there were no deaths and no injuries reported in the Eureka tornado. Multiple structures were damaged, including the nursing home near 10th and School Street. However, the attached hospital was not damaged, the sheriff's office says.

Our photojournalist on scene observed structures that were destroyed, including at least one mobile home that was flipped and a barn that was pushed to its side.

The sheriff's office says that at this time, no volunteers are needed unless people are trained or have tree-removal equipment. The operation center for crews is at Eureka's community center.

The National Weather Service says a tornado warning for Greenwood County was issued at 9:06 p.m. The tornado hit Eureka at about 9:45 p.m.


UPDATE--1140 p.m.: The Greenwood County Sheriff's Office now tells us the hospital in Eureka were not hit by the tornado. Earlier reports indicated that there was damage to both the hospital and nursing home. Damage survey crews are expected to be in Eureka Friday morning to better assess the damage in the daylight.


A semi was blown over near Severy on Highway 400 East and westbound traffic is blocked, but no one was hurt.


UPDATE--11:30 p.m.: Westar Energy reports about 2,700 customers are without power in Eureka. Storms impacting parts of Greenwood County and Butler County are beginning to weaken, as our storms in northwest Kansas.


UPDATE--11:15 p.m.: The tornado warning for southeast Greenwood County has been allowed to expire. The storm over portions of Wilson County is also beginning to show weakening in the rotation.


UPDATE--11:05 p.m.: Tornado sirens are sounding in Fredonia in Wilson County where rotation was reported about 1 mile NW of the city. There have not been any damage reports in Eureka, but the search and rescue effort continues. Another storm approaching the community from the west is producing large hail.

In northwest Kansas, severe thunderstorm warnings are in effect for portions of Gove and Logan Counties as strong storms continue to track southeast. These storms are producing large hail.


UPDATE--10:50 p.m.: The damage on the north side of Eureka is reported to possibly include a nursing home. A search and rescue effort is underway in areas that received the most significant damage in the city. Greenwood County Emergency Manager Levi Vinson says anyone in Eureka who has been displaced by the tornado should report to the Methodist church in town at 517 N. Main.


UPDATE--10:30 p.m. Storm Team 12 chaser Eric Lynn reports spotting what looked like a building that had been destroyed near 10th and School Road. Lynn also reports seeing a building that possibly could have been a church, looked like it had rolled. We're told the American Red Cross is headed toward Eureka.


Update-- 10:20 p.m.: The storm continues to track south and east away from Eureka. The tornado warning remains in effect, but a tornado has not been confirmed since about 9:50 p.m.

Storm Team 12 chaser Eric Lynn reports most of the damage he's seen in Eureka has been on the north side of town from about 10th and Main on northward. He says many of the roads in the area are blocked by fallen trees.


Storm Team 12 confirms a tornado has touched ground on the north side of Eureka. The storm continues to push its way south as Greenwood and Elk Counties remain in a tornado warning until at least 10:30 p.m.

Greenwood County Emergency Manager Levi Vinson reports widespread damage after Eureka took a direct hit.