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Archive for Saturday, September 8, 2001

Storms wreach havoc in Douglas County

September 8, 2001

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Authorities believe a microburst may have caused the roof on the southeast and southwest wings of the building to collapse. Strong winds from a thunderstorm that swept through Douglas County also caused structural damage to a wall in the southeast wing, said Spencer McCabe, chief of the Eudora Fire Department.

He was unsure how many residents were moved to other parts of the building, and nursing center employees refused to disclose the number of residents living there.

No injuries were reported.

Firefighters were attempting to retrieve as many personal items as possible from rooms where the roof was damaged and rain continued to pour in, McCabe said. At least eight rooms were directly affected. Insulation and roof shingles from the center littered Maple Street.

A house for sale one block north of the center suffered roof damage as well, Eudora police said.

On Main Street, a block east of the center, huge tree branches fell in almost every yard, and two plastic children's swimming pools lay thrashed against the curb.

In and near Lawrence, the weather left downed power lines, fallen tree limbs, power outages and structural damage in its path.

A building under construction that was supposed to serve as a second fire station for the Wakarusa Township Fire Department was leveled in the storm, firefighter Amber Wells said.

At 7:47 p.m., a construction trailer flipped off the job site and onto Sixth Street just east of Wakarusa Drive, said Guy Pearson of WeatherData, a private forecasting service in Wichita.

About 7:20 p.m., Douglas County Emergency Management sent weather spotters to the southern edge of the county where the storm came in, assistant director Teri Guenther said.

Spotters reported winds between 60 and 70 mph and heavy rains, Guenther said.

She said there also had been reports of downed trees and power lines, as well as power outages throughout the city and county.

Douglas County was under a tornado watch until 11 p.m., a thunderstorm warning from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and a flood watch until 2 a.m.

The worst of the storm had passed through the county by about 8 p.m., Pearson said.

The same system that wreaked havoc in Douglas County caused even more damage in other parts of the state, he said.

Tornadoes in central Kansas destroyed at least two homes, damaged several others and interrupted utilities in a Saline County town, officials said. No injuries were reported.

A tornado touched down about 5:20 p.m. in eastern Saline County near the town of Assaria. The storm then moved into Dickinson County.

Another tornado was spotted in Geary County near Milford Lake at about the same time, officials there said.

A MetLife Blimp broke away from its mooring at a Kansas City airport during a thunderstorm Friday night and landed about two hours -- and 75 miles -- later in rural northern Missouri.

The dirigible's mooring mast broke at about 8:30 p.m., and the blimp floated away from Downtown Kansas City Airport on 50 mph winds. The unmanned blimp landed about 3 miles east of Chillicothe, said Joe McBride, a spokesman for the Kansas City Aviation Department.

The blimp had arrived in town for Sunday's football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders. McBride said it was unclear if the blimp would still fly over Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.

-- Staff writer Mindie Paget can be reached at 832-7187.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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