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Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

City’s recovery moving quickly

Federal funds may aid efforts

March 14, 2006

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From left Rep. Barbara Ballard, Paul Davis, KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway, Sen. Marci Francisco and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius report on their fly-over of the Lawrence area to assess the damage from Sunday's storm. The Gov. made the trip Monday.

From left Rep. Barbara Ballard, Paul Davis, KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway, Sen. Marci Francisco and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius report on their fly-over of the Lawrence area to assess the damage from Sunday's storm. The Gov. made the trip Monday.

State leaders flew over Lawrence on Monday to view the destruction from Sunday's devastating wind storm, still waiting for a calculation of the damages to see whether the city will qualify for federal disaster assistance.

"This (area) clearly took the brunt of the storm" that also hit Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said after the flight with Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway and members of the city's legislative delegation.

Damage on campus was calculated at $6 million, which would seem to easily qualify for the $3.2 million-loss threshold to dip into federal coffers, but authorities said other criteria - and a broader assessment of damages across all of Lawrence, due today - would affect the final decision.

Video of press conference

"We hope we will pass the FEMA threshold," said Paula Phillips, director of Douglas County Emergency Management.

But cleanup was progressing quickly, with the KU campus reopening today, along with New York School - though Central Junior High will remain closed. By 9:15 p.m. Monday, power had been restored to all but 390 customers, down from a high of 43,000 area homes in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

Westar spokeswoman Karla Olsen said power should be restored to most customers by this morning.

More than 100 city workers were working overtime to aid the cleanup, and volunteers were helping as well.


From left Senator Marci Francisco, Rep. Paul Davis and Barbara Ballard and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius leave the Lawrence Airport after an earlier fly over of Lawrence and a press conference at the airport. The Gov. toured the damaged areas of the community Monday morning.

From left Senator Marci Francisco, Rep. Paul Davis and Barbara Ballard and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius leave the Lawrence Airport after an earlier fly over of Lawrence and a press conference at the airport. The Gov. toured the damaged areas of the community Monday morning.

"There was so much community helping, and real neighborhood cohesion yesterday that there's a lot less that needs to be done today than we had anticipated," said Margaret Perkins-McGuiness, manager of the Roger Hill Volunteer Center.

Damaging storm

As for the big question - was Sunday's damage caused by a tornado or microburst? - National Weather Service officials were providing their final answer, with a hedge.

"It's been classified as a microburst," said Paul Frantz, who works in the NWS' Topeka office.

Some witnesses told the Journal-World they saw a funnel cloud hit Lawrence during Sunday's storm. No trained storm-spotters confirmed that view, Frantz said, but the ruling could be changed if the agency receives photographic evidence.

Debris on the ground appeared to have been blown in a straight line consistent with a microburst, he said, rather than the rotating mess left behind by a twister.

And, he said, a strong microburst - like the one that hit Lawrence Sunday - can be more damaging. The winds can be equally strong in both events, but a tornado typically leaves a narrow, if intense, path of destruction.

A microburst, Frantz said, can "be the same damage, same consequences, but it's over a wider area. These winds can be over 100 mph ... and they can pick up debris, which is the dangerous part."

Microbursts, he said, shouldn't be underestimated.

"I think people don't think of it as an impressive weather feature," Frantz said, "but some of them, if you've seen the video, are amazing."

Don Troughton, of Overland Park, and Bruce Evans, of Lawrence, help clean up sheds at Pendleton's Country Market, 1446 E. 1850 Road, that were damaged in Sunday's storm.

Don Troughton, of Overland Park, and Bruce Evans, of Lawrence, help clean up sheds at Pendleton's Country Market, 1446 E. 1850 Road, that were damaged in Sunday's storm.

Work to be done

City crews on Monday cleared street debris, then started picking up tree remnants and other wreckage left at curbsides by property owners.

"All of the street department is working on this, more than 50 people in Parks and Rec. ... We've got more than 130 people working on this," said Lisa Patterson, a city spokeswoman.

Parks workers were expected to work extended shifts at least through Wednesday, she said.

Volunteers were also pitching in. Perkins-McGuiness said more than 20 helpers had been placed by her organization.

"I'm really proud of our community," she said. "I was amazed to witness yesterday how people really came together to help their neighbors."

And Pendleton's Country Market, 1445 E. 1850 Road, found itself flooded with as many as 40 helpers - including some from Kansas City - as the owners tried to clean up the mess left behind by two destroyed silos, one flattened barn and a multitude of other damage.

"It was amazing. It was such an outpouring of concern and work," said Karen Pendleton, whose family owns the farm. "I'm really good when I'm working, but when I look up and see somebody, that's when I get teary."

Whom to call for help

Burst of destruction

Burst of destruction

Numbers to call for help with the storm's aftermath:

¢ Neighborhood Resources inspectors will work with residents concerned about structural damage to determine whether an inspection is necessary. Call 832-7700.

¢ To report damage to a right-of-way tree, contact Parks and Recreation at 832-3450. The location will be added to the working list, and crews will clean up or trim the tree.

¢ Woody debris can be dropped off at 1901 Wakarusa. For more details, call 832-3123.

¢ Report street signs down to Public Works at 832-3123.

¢ Individuals with general insurance questions should contact the Insurance Commissioner's office at (800) 432-2484.

¢ If property owners are hiring a contractor, they should request a copy of the license or call the City Clerk's office at 832-3308 to confirm the contractor is licensed.

- Source: City of Lawrence

March 12, 2006, Storm

Related content for the storm

  • A year later, microburst's sudden fury still evident (03-11-07)
  • EMS chief stays positive after injuries (03-11-07)
  • Comments

    billyflay 8 years, 1 month ago

    right back at ya! you are so correct!

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    Bill Smith 8 years, 1 month ago

    It sure doesn't take long for reader comments to be degraded to name calling and useless pontificating.

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    billyflay 8 years, 1 month ago

    huh?

    hispanics working their arse's off is degrading?

    what should have been said,

    i didn't realize their were so many humans living in town, seemed like every other job had 5 or 6 of them working their arse's off picking up sticks, ?

    or instead of NAACP

    NAAHP National Association for the Advancement of Human People?

    or instead of CHC, Congressional Hispanic Caucus

    Congressional Human Caucus?

    i tell you what, as soon as they quit identifying themselves by race, like hispanics and coloreds, i will too,

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    KsLambert 8 years, 1 month ago

    Why do some people always degrade to a race comment ? What is the matter with you ?

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    offtotheright 8 years, 1 month ago

    The hispanics were hired billyflay! No surprise at all.

    What is the 1901 Wakarusa drop off?

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    billyflay 8 years, 1 month ago

    It's amazing to find what a great work ethic our community has...

    i didn't realize their were so many hispanics living in town, seemed like every other job had 5 or 6 of them working their arse's off picking up sticks,

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    Multidisciplinary 8 years, 1 month ago

    It's amazing to find what a great work ethic our community has...when we get a chance to do something, fun, out of the ordinary, useful, physical, talking to others, neighbors. Kind of like 100 years ago. Farming. When people communciated, and actually used their bodies. It was fun, but hard. Honest rewards for hard work. You SAW what you had accomplished, and people were grateful.

    Oh..you're going to make me all.."commune" here!

    Good work, good feelings Lawrence.

    And would someone go help those people who have never put a tarp on there roofs before...give them some hints? Some of those are not going to last a bit. Lessons learned the hard way, those who have learned, help the newbies!

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    Bill Smith 8 years, 1 month ago

    It is amazing how this community comes together in times of need. Lawrence always seems to stand tall and proud when face with difficulty. It is a true testiment to the citizens of our community. A big thank you to all the city workers who are working to restore our communtity after the storm Sunday morning. My thoughts are with those who sustained damage to homes, businesses, and body.

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    Mercat 8 years, 1 month ago

    Sort of sounds like the government officials are worried that because Lawrence is cleaning up so fast, we won't get all that federal money.

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