A tornado struck the community of Eureka, Ks, in Greenwood County at approximately 7:31 p.m. Tuesday evening, June 26. It is reported to be a ‘direct hit,’ and search and rescue efforts are underway. Local officials are conducting damage assessments at this time.
Emergency sirens were activated, but the tornado developed quickly and people had little time to take shelter. The preliminary assessment shows damage to more than 100 blocks because of the tornado.
The sheriff’s office says five people were injured, one critically. First responders continue searching properties to make sure there’s no one else injured or trapped. A preliminary damage assessment showed damage to more than 100 blocks.
Gov. Jeff Colyer declared a State of Disaster Emergency proclamation at 8:33 p.m. and Greenwood County declared a state of local disaster. The State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka was activated to coordinate the response of state agencies. Personnel from the Kansas Division of Emergency Management are in contact with Greenwood County emergency management officials to respond to requests for assistance.
The American Red Cross has opened a shelter for displaced residents at the Methodist Church, 521 N. Main Street in Eureka, and another one at New Life Assembly of God, 1201 North Main.
The Kansas Highway Patrol is on scene and providing security and manning roadblocks. The Kansas Department of Transportation closed a 21-mile stretch of Highway 54 overnight, but it has now been reopened.
There were approximately 5,700 Westar Energy customers without power at one point. Westar crews have arrived in Eureka and are working diligently to restore power. It has been reported this morning that the number without power is down to 2700. You call track outages here: Westar Outage Map.
State agencies that are represented in the State Emergency Operations Center include the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, the Kansas National Guard, Kansas Department of Transportation, Kansas Highway Patrol, Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Fire Marshal and Department of Children and Family Services.
The Kansas Division of Emergency Management (KDEM), a division of The Adjutant General’s Department, was asking all concerned citizens wishing to assist with rescue and recovery efforts in Eureka to please stay home until asked.
“We know that their hearts are in the right place,” said Angee Morgan, deputy director of KDEM, “and there will probably be opportunities for people to volunteer, but right now, we need to let the professionals do their jobs, assessing the situation to see what is needed and where it is needed. Though well-intentioned, too many untrained volunteers rushing in can create problems.”
Although the tornado has passed, hazards from weakened and damaged trees, downed power lines, and other dangers remain.
State agencies are currently coordinating immediate needs for the residents. As the situation is assessed, emergency coordinators will have a clearer picture of what is needed and will ask for trained volunteers and additional supplies, as needed.
Morgan said that the best way people can help right now is to make monetary donations to established volunteer organizations such as the American Red Cross, Harvesters, Salvation Army, United Way, etc.
It has been reported this morning that those wishing to help can check in at the Matt Samuels Community Building at 100 N. Jefferson in Eureka at noon today.
The American Red Cross is asking anyone affected by the tornado to register at their Safe and Well website at https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php or calling 1-800-RED CROSS. The Safe and Well website can also be used to check on family members in the affected area.
If you have been displaced by the tornado, or are in need of shelter, you can call 211 for assistance.
- Photos: Cindy Walthers; KWCH