Jefferson County is among the eight counties declared by Gov. Mike Hayden to be disaster areas after violent storms that spawned tornadoes Monday and Tuesday.
The declaration means federal assistance may be available to help replace or repair property damaged by the violent weather.
Lawrence was spared from the storms' wrath and got some much-needed rain in the bargain.
An estimated $750,000 damage was done in McLouth on Monday night as high winds lifted and threw objects through the air and into homes, windows and automobiles. A church bell tower was downed, trees were uprooted and several buildings were demolished.
Hayden pledged Wednesday that the state will help residents clean up in the aftermath of the storms that hit south-central and northeast Kansas. The disaster declaration, signed Wednesday is the first step toward obtaining federal disaster relief.
The governor said federal relief typically is available only to homeowners or businesses who are underinsured or uninsured. He said he doubts many of the businesses or homeowners in the Hesston area would qualify, because they had insurance.
HAYDEN SAID the disaster declaration also allows the state to exceed its emergency preparedness budget to pay National Guardsmen and move equipment in to help residents clean up. Hayden said it was too early to tell how much the state's efforts could cost.
Insurance Commissioner Fletcher Bell today urged property owners in tornado-damaged areas of Kansas to contact their insurance agents promptly and ask them whether such things as debris removal, water damage and power outages are covered by their policies.
Questions should be referred to agents or adjusters, Bell said, since there are variations in coverage from company to company.
Automobiles damaged by hail or fallen debris generally are not covered under homeowners' policies, but should be covered under the comprehensive coverage in automobile policies, he said.
HE SUGGESTED property owners with damage:
Notify the insurance agent or company of the damage, giving them a telephone number where an adjuster can contact them.
Make necessary temporary repairs to protect the home or other insured buildings from further weather damage. Most policies provide for reimbursement for reasonable expenses on temporary repairs, he said.
Salvage what personal belongings can be retrieved.
Take photographs or videotape of damaged property to show the adjuster.
Prepare a detailed inventory of all damaged personal property for the adjuster, retaining a copy for the owner's records.
TORNADO activity skipped Lawrence, but the rains didn't.
According to records kept at the Kansas University Weather Service, the storms produced 1.76 inches of rain in Lawrence since they began Friday.
Nearly 2.5 inches of rain have fallen on Lawrence for the month, which equals the normal rainfall for the month of March. For the year to date, the Lawrence is ahead of normal rainfall, the first time that has happened in two years.
So far this year, 5.71 inches of rain have fallen on Lawrence, compared with a normal 4.86 inches, according to the weather service.
Rain has left the local forecast and is not expected to return until the middle of next week, forecasters say.
Two deaths and 23 injuries were reported across Kansas as a result of the violent storms. Also, 234 structures were damaged or destroyed. A damage cost estimate should be available early next week.