STAFFORD COUNTY — Frances Fanshier has more than 60 years of experience watching severe weather in Stafford County.
She knew when the wind shifted from an easterly direction, it was time to head to her basement. Her instincts proved correct Tuesday when an EF2 tornado caused several thousand dollars of damage to her property.
The tornado moved north/northwest and caused EF2 damage with approximately 120 mph winds. The heaviest damage was in northern Stafford County, where a roof was torn off a property. Damage was also severe to
trees, oil tanks, pivot sprinklers and out buildings.
Four generations of Fanshiers have called the property near U.S. 281 their home for more than 100 years. One of her sons, Randy Fanshier, sustained tornado damage to his property a few years ago in Stafford County.
After 60 years of marriage, Frances Fanshier lost her husband Robert L. Fanshier a year ago. She nearly lost her own life this time, but her house barely missed a direct hit. Just like “The Wizard of Oz,” Fanshier reached his basement from an outdoors entrance.
“I guess God was watching after me,” she said. “It was rain, then hail and a really black sky. I knew it was bad.”
Her power was disrupted before the tornado struck, but years of watching the weather prepared her well.
The farmstead lost dozens of trees, including a cedar tree the family had received from longtime Barton County 4-H agent Bill Van Skike. Midwest Energy has made several repairs to restore power. The property sustained several thousand dollars estimated damage. The home lost several windows and the upstairs ceilings were damaged beyond repair.
Frances said she was thankful the damage wasn’t any worse.
“It probably helps a keep a sense of humor about it,” she said.
Her husband was a farmer and stockman and a lifetime resident of Stafford County. They had three sons and two daughters and grandchildren who reside in Dodge City, Hays, Manhattan, Seward, Lawrence, Memphis, Tenn. and Omaha, Neb.
Family members and neighbors have helped clear the property.
“It’s good to have friends who help out. It’s been nice,” Frances said.
The tornado also struck her nearby neighbors. Lynette Blakeslee’s home on the east side of U.S. 281 had its roof blown off. Farm equipment and sheds were totaled. Dozens of cottonwood trees were blown over and destroyed. The property is strewn with debris.
Property owned by Lonnie and Tracy Brose sustained similar damage in northern Stafford County. A shed and several trees were destroyed. A silo sustained damage. Lonnie Broce said no damage estimate has been calculated yet.
Lonnie was on business in Elkhart Tuesday for Fanshier Corrosion Service. He said Tracy took safety just in time. His best news of the day came when he heard Tracy was safe.
“We lost a lot of trees and had equipment and windows damaged,” he said. “We took a pretty good hit.”