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Tornadoes rake central Kansas
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LA CROSSE — Several tornadoes raked sections of area counties Friday night, damaging homes and businesses, ripping down power lines and injuring at least one person.
A woman was injured in Russell after a tornado swept through the area around 9:45 p.m. and destroyed a modular home, the Kansas Department of Emergency Management said. She was taken to Russell Regional Hospital, but officials did not release a name or a condition.
The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., logged 30 reported tornadoes late Friday night into early Saturday morning, most in Rush, Ellis, Ness and Russell counties.
A tornado also hit a six-block area in La Crosse around 9:51 p.m., damaging three businesses and a large storage building, and destroying three unoccupied camping trailers, according to Rush County Emergency Preparedness Director James Fisher. He said there were no confirmed injuries.
Two parked cars in one of the business buildings were severely damaged, and there was also significant tree damage in La Crosse, Fisher said. Power was out in half of the city and downed power lines were across several streets.
Authorities closed U.S. 183 north of La Crosse and K-4 west of town for a time because of downed power lines. The town was closed to through traffic because businesses along its main street are “a total loss,” La Crosse Chief of Police Jason Reece told The Wichita Eagle. “We’re just trying to assess the damage,” Reece said.
Fisher said traffic flow through La Crosse had resumed Saturday. He reported the tornado touched down at Fifth and Main (U.S. 183) and caused damage on three blocks either side of Main.
La Crosse resident Mary Urban said there were so many reports of tornadoes near La Crosse on Friday evening, “it felt like we were surrounded.”
“It’s crazy,” Urban said of the damage. “The car wash is gone. The old lumber yard, it got messed up.”
Russell County Sheriff John Fletcher said the Russell storm was a rope tornado that touched down at U.S. 281 and I-70 Road, which is half a mile south of the city. In addition to the home that was destroyed, two additional residences and several structures were also damaged.
The Emergency Management Department said state assistance has not been requested, and the State Emergency Operations Center was not activated.
Fletcher said the National Weather Service was contacted and expected to have representatives in the county on Saturday to assess the damage and determine the strength of the tornado. The Russell County Sheriff’s Office, Russell Police Department, Russell County EMS, Russell City Fire Department, Russell Grant Rural Fire Department, Russell Rural FIre District No. 5 and numerous volunteers assisted with search and rescue of the damaged area.