ANDOVER, Kan. (KSNW) — A tornado caused damage Friday night in Andover and Butler County. The storm formed in Sedgwick County and made its way into Butler County just after 8 p.m.
There has been a shelter for tornado victims set up at the Andover Baptist Church located at 1043 S. Andover Road. Residents who need immediate help are encouraged to call United Way by phone at 211.
Andover Fire Chief Chad Russell said that 966 buildings were in the storm’s path, and they will not know the exact amount of the damage for a while. In some neighborhoods, some homes were completely blown down.
Russell said there are no active rescues underway. There were some rescues in the beginning, but all are accounted for.
Because of the tornado damage in the Andover area, U.S. Highway 54/400, also known as Kellogg, is closed from 159th on the west to Santa Fe Lake Road on the east. Traffic is being diverted. It is not clear how long the closure will last.
As far as injuries go, Butler County EMS Deputy Chief Scott Stueven said that EMS treated five patients. Two of those were firefighters, and one was transported to a local hospital.
Kevin Lanterman, interim director of Sedgwick County EMS, said they accounted for three injuries. One of those was serious. The other two were non-critical.
Russell said they are finished with the primary assessment of the damage and are moving into the secondary assessments, checking more methodically in the morning.
Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple said Wichita Fire Department Chief Tammy Snow told him that around 50-100 structures have been damaged. He said all Wichita Police Command have been directed to assist with emergency management in Andover and that Wichita City Manager Rober Layton reached out to the Andover City Manager to offer help in the coming days.
Wichita Interim Police Chief Lem Moore said, “please do not come to Andover unless you have to. Emergency services want to focus on the families in Andover and not have to manage people wanted to drive by to see the damages.”
Officials said they would hold another press conference Saturday at 8:15 a.m.
The Greater Wichita YMCA said in a statement, “the Andover YMCA suffered significant damage as a result of the storm that hit the Andover area this evening. We are thankful that all of the staff and members that took shelter at the branch at the time of the storm, were not injured. The branch will be closed until further notice. We will keep everyone updated as details become available.”
Andover Public Schools said Prairie Creek Elementary located south of the YMCA at 654 YMCA Drive suffered tornado damage this evening. The district put out a statement saying, “they are aware of damage at Prairie Creek Elementary and will be assessing that in the light of day on Saturday. We will also be checking for damage at other facilities. We will provide further updates on Saturday and will have no new information this evening.”
David Dennis, Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, issued a verbal declaration of emergency to activate Sedgwick County Emergency Operations Center and the Local Emergency Operations Plan.
“We have all of our partner agencies coming in. We do have crews on the ground now in Sedgwick County doing damage assessments, going door to door in the southeast portion of the city trying to give us information about how bad it may be in Sedgwick County,” said Sedgwick County Emergency Management Director Julie Stimson. “So right now, we are gathering data. We have resources lined up for whatever need may be needed out there.”
Stimson urges people to not travel to the area.
“We have power outages in that part of the city right now. There is damage. We need to allow our crews to do what they need to do to help people right now out there in that disaster area. We do not need onlookers at this time,” said Stimson. “Right now, we are on immediate search and rescue and scene safety.”
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly declared a State of Disaster Emergency effective at 8:57 p.m. The declaration activates the disaster response and recovery portions of the Kansas Response Plan, authorizing state resources to augment local jurisdictions with response and recovery efforts in areas impacted statewide.
Thirty-one years ago on Friday, April 26, 1991, an F-5 tornado tore through Andover. Thirteen people died at the Golden Spur Mobile Home Park.