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Many hands make light work
Ellinwood appreciated help with storm cleanup
ellinwood storm damage update
Although the storm that hit Ellinwood last Wednesday night caused a lot of damage, help from Barton County personnel made the cleanup efforts go smoothly.

On the evening of July 6, Barton County, particularly the City of Ellinwood and surrounding area, was impacted a gusty summer storm. Several County offices responded. County commissioners Wednesday morning heard an update from responding county and city officials, highlighting the cooperation among local governmental entities.

“There was some severe weather that impacted the surrounding areas,” County Operations Director Matt Patzner said. “Tree limbs were down. There was a temporary loss of power for a few residents. Thankfully, there were no injuries that I’ve been made aware of.”

The night of and in the aftermath, county personnel stepped in to help.

“I just wanted to highlight one of our departments, the Health Department,” he said. They deployed and outreach and gave free tetanus shots the day after for anyone that was helping.

They administered 20 shots. According to Health Director Karen Winkelman, the community appreciated the effort.

Ellinwood City Administrator Chris Komarek said the storm rolled in around 6 p.m. It brought winds in the 70-80 mile-per-hour range and some large hail.

“Most of our damage is consistent with tree damage,” he said. Some parts of town lost power for about 30 minutes, and a few residents were without electricity until the following morning.

“But, by Thursday morning, everything was up and going well again on the utility side of things,” he said.

“We had just tons of debris within our city parks. We lost the five large trees that were completely uprooted. They fell over,” he said. There were probably three others in town that toppled and landed on houses. 

“We’ve always had a policy in the City of Ellinwood that we go around after a storm like that and, as long as the homeowners will put the tree branches along the curb, we’ll go around and pick them up,” he said. “With a storm of this magnitude, it was going to be a long, long time.”

Patzner reached out to Komarek the next morning and wanted to know if they needed any help. “I looked at our street superintendent and we said we’re going to take them up this offer.”

The Road and Bridge Department deployed three trucks, two loaders and a team of around six to eight on Thursday.

In addition, Lakin Townships, which includes Ellinwood, sent a loader, truck and a couple guys.

And, the City of Great Bend called as well. Ellinwood officials appreciated the offer, but already had plenty of help and declined.

County crews were on site Thursday and Friday.

“We got the whole town cleaned up in two days with everybody’s help. And without that, we’d have been 10 days or so,” Komarek said.

This was important since Ellinwood is poised to celebrate its annual After Harvest Festival this coming weekend. “So we were kind of panicking to get this all done,” he said.

Komarek was asked if a disaster declaration would help. Possibly, Ellinwood would be eligible for state or federal funds to cover the costs.

“I really suspect that we’re probably not going qualify for anything at this point,” he said.