Archive for Saturday, May 9, 2009

Woman in mobile home killed in storm

May 9, 2009

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— Heavy rain and high winds raked southeast Kansas on Friday, flipping idled airplanes and cutting off power to more than 21,000 customers. A woman was killed when her mobile home was blown 40 feet off its foundation.

Emergency responders found 54-year-old Carol Jacobsen’s mobile home “wrapped around a tree” after the storm whipped through New Albany in Wilson County.

Winds in the area reached 120 mph, destroying the New Albany United Methodist Church and the town’s post office and damaging several homes.

No other injuries were reported in Wilson County, where there was also major damage at a high school in Cherokee and a grain elevator in McCune.

Altoona reported roof damage at several locations. Sheds and outbuildings were destroyed in rural areas. Power lines and 42 electrical poles were downed, Wilson County Emergency Management reported.

Rain and wind from the storm system damaged property and flooded roads throughout southeast and south-central Kansas. Schools closed in Bourbon, Greenwood and Lyon counties.

Wind damage was reported in El Dorado, Towanda and Benton in Butler County, Kansas Emergency Management reported. Other counties reporting damage from the storm included Crawford, Elk, Labette, Montgomery and Reno.

Crawford County declared a local disaster emergency, with damage estimated at $1.1 million, the sheriff’s department said in a news release. The towns of Cherokee and McCune lost power, and shelters were set up at a Cherokee church and the McCune Community Center.

About 130 structures were damaged in Cherokee, including the roof of a high school gym, the sheriff’s office said. In McCune, six vehicles and more than 60 structures were damaged, with a grain elevator at the McCune Co-op blown off its foundation. A semi was blown onto its side in a parking lot, slightly injuring the driver.

The National Weather Service reported extensive damage from the straightline winds occurred in New Albany, El Dorado, Parsons and Towanda.

Airplanes were flipped over by winds at the El Dorado airport, and damage was reported at a marina at El Dorado Lake, The Wichita Eagle reported on its Web site. In Towanda, a stone silo bearing the city’s name was reduced to rubble.

Several minor injuries, mostly bumps and bruises, were reported across Butler County, said national Weather Service meteorologist Brad Ketcham. At least one person was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries after high wind caused a car to roll off the Kansas Turnpike near El Dorado.

“We are done weatherwise — everything happened in our area by 8 a.m.,” Ketcham said.

Flood warnings were posted for southeast Kansas, mostly for expected river flooding of low-lying areas. Moderate flooding is expected in Neosho County around Parsons, Oswego and Erie, similar to what the area saw a week ago, Ketcham said.

Halstead city administrator J.R. Hatfield said three businesses were damaged but homes were spared.

“Our trees got hammered pretty bad,” Hatfield said.

A 20-mile stretch of the Kansas Turnpike near Emporia was closed for about an hour starting at 6 a.m. after the Highway Patrol received reports of water covering the interstate. Northbound traffic was reduced to one line after the highway reopened while crews repaired the shoulder.

The National Weather Service in Topeka said persistent rainfall over the past few weeks had saturated the ground, contributing to the flooding from Friday morning’s storms.

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