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Archive for Saturday, September 23, 2000

Storm KOs emergency center phones

Severe weather peppers area; initial reports indicate little damage

September 23, 2000

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During most thunderstorms and severe weather, Douglas County Emergency Preparedness Assistant Director Teri Guenther monitors weather spotters and major damage reports.

In Friday night's early fall thunderstorm, Guenther had a slight setback when the emergency operations center's phones were knocked out in a power outage.

"Nobody's called us with any storm reports or any damage they had."

Teri Guenther, Douglas County Emergency Preparedness assistant director

"We had three power outages, real short ones, and by the third one it went to backup generators," Guenther said. "That last one is when we lost the phones. I know there were some downed lines and power outages. Nobody's called us with any storm reports or any damage they had."

The storm disrupted at least five area high school football games and a community theater production, but reports of damage were scarce.

The storm swept into Lawrence just after 6:30 p.m., moving southeast from the Topeka area.

The National Weather Service reported wind gusts up to 65 miles an hour as the storm moved east of Kansas City.

6News meteorologist Doug Heady said the southern part of Lawrence received about 3/10 of an inch of rain, but North Lawrence may have gotten up to an inch of rain.

A Jefferson County Emergency Preparedness dispatcher said the county had reports of pea-sized hail, but Guenther said none was sighted in Douglas County.

A home in Big Springs, in western Douglas County, was struck by lightning, but Lecompton Township Fire Chief LeRoy Boucher said a fire was narrowly avoided.

"It blew a plug in one room. That room, luckily, was rewired from the rest of the house and had a breaker in it. He flipped the main breaker and shut it off," he said. "It didn't cause any kind of fire. We couldn't find any other damage."

A KPL spokesman said the storm initially cut power from 1,500 households

"We are down to about 350 right now at 9 p.m. That 1,500 was scattered pretty much all over town," spokesman Mark Schreiber said. "The biggest number affected in that 350 group was around 15th and Massachusetts and 15th and New Jersey."

6News, however, was forced to use an emergency generator to broadcast its 10 p.m. news program.

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