This past Tuesday evening, the city of Eureka took a direct hit from a tornado. No one was killed, but eight people were injured, two critically, and 175 structures were damaged, according to reports. This comes less than two years after the town was hit by a tornado in July 2016.
The residents of Barton County — and perhaps all longtime Kansans — can empathize with the people of Eureka.
The Hoisington tornado of 2001 resulted in one fatality along with 28 injuries. According to the National Weather Service, 200 homes and businesses were destroyed and 85 homes were severely damaged.
The tornado outbreak of May 4-6, 2007, was all around us, killing humans and livestock as near as Stafford County, but it is best remembered for the damage down in Greensburg.
On May 16, 2017, a tornado touched down near Pawnee Rock and traveled to just west of Hoisington. At least seven properties sustained more than 50 percent damage.
These tragic events often bring out the best in Midwesterners, who lend a helping hand to those in need. And our brave first responders work hard to keep people safe before and after the storm. Our government, so often criticized, plays a part in helping people make repairs and move on.
Greenwood County Emergency Management in Eureka said volunteers there could begin cleanup in all areas of town starting Thursday morning. Volunteers need to check in at the Matt Samuels Community Building at 100 N. Jefferson Street before starting.
Zawn Villines, an Atlanta journalist who specializes in mental health, wrote this after a 2013 tornado hit Moore, Okla., “These events leave residents devastated and entire communities completely decimated. Round-the-clock news coverage tends to fade afterward, making it easy to forget about these events altogether. But for the people who survive massive disasters, the consequences last much longer than the news cycle, and extend much deeper than property damage and scrapes.”
While April, May and June are the most active and dangerous months of the year for tornados, the tornado season is far from over. If you have not already done so, think about your own plans for safety in the event of a tornado. Identify a safe place in your home and be prepared to go there in the event of a tornado warning.
The good news is, agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service have been working to improve disaster warnings and have made significant progress since hurricane Katrina in 2005. But it is up to each of us to stay alert and heed any warnings.