Eudora residents breathe sigh of relief after tornado does only minimal damage

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EUDORA, Kan. -- Douglas County's emergency managers say Monday night's tornado did a minimal amount of damage, despite showing wind speeds as high as 110 miles per hour. The National Weather Service bureau in Topeka says that tornado is classified as an EF-1.

Residents in Eudora, home to around 6,000 people, have a mess to clean up nonetheless. Hundreds of tall trees are ruined, and people are working feverishly to straighten up their yards. Weather professionals say the bright side is the storm could have been a lot worse.

Debbie Campbell says she looked out her window on Monday afternoon around 5:30 p.m., and her canvas gazebo was whipping in the wind. Debbie and her husband, Virgil, have lived in Eudora for at least 20 years, and saw no warning at all when the twister touched down.

"It came real hard," Virgil Campbell said.

Virgil says when the storm hit it pummeled them like a ton of bricks.

"All of a sudden, it came down so hard, I couldn't even see across the street," Debbie said. "Next thing I know, it started circling. I looked outside and the tops of trees were just circling."

Yet somehow, the Campbell home was spared major damage, except for a few roof shingles, a damaged playset and a ripped-up gazebo.

"This is replaceable," Debbie said. "People aren't. It could have been worse. It could have gone in the house. That whole tree could have fallen over. That's a lot of stuff that wouldn't be replaceable."

Most of Eudora's 6,000 residents didn't see any damage to their homes or businesses, but trees are down all over town. A group from the National Weather Service office in Topeka came to survey the damage, saying this storm could have been a lot worse.

Brian Barjenbruch is a lead forecaster for the weather service. He says the tornadoes winds add up to nearly 110 miles per hour, making it an EF-1. He says it's a miracle that more damage wasn't done.

"The storms in Kansas, they certainly know how to be quite severe," Barjenbusch said. "It's terrible to see this kind of damage, but it wasn't worse this time. There were no injuries or fatalities. So far, what we've seen is minor home damage, so that's the good news."

Teri Smith, Douglas County's emergency manager, tells FOX 4 News public works officials are on the streets, collecting yard debris from homeowners. She also commented that people in this community are willing to help in times of need, as witnessed in their sharing of tools and other cleanup resources during this time.