The severe storm system that is moving through the state has spawned a number of strong tornadoes, causing damage in multiple counties. Governor Sam Brownback issued a declaration of disaster emergency to help speed relief to areas affected by the storms.
"We are continuing to assess all the damages across the state," said Brownback, "and signing this declaration clears the way for making state aid available to those counties that need help with clean-up and recovery."
Emergency management officials are asking that people avoid going into damaged areas for their own safety and so they will not hinder first responders carry out response operations.
Damages are still being assessed in the Wichita area. However, hangar damage was reported at the 184th Air Intelligence Wing on the west side of McConnell Air Force Base. Sedgwick County officials made a declaration of local disaster emergency at 12:25 a.m. Sunday, April 15.
The Kansas Highway Patrol reported a tornado went through Kiowa and Edwards Counties, starting at US 183, mile marker 61.5 in Kiowa, and continued to Edwards County from the Haviland Blacktop at County Road 270. It then went east to Stafford County. No injuries or fatalities were reported, but two houses were destroyed in Kiowa and a number of trees, power poles and lines were downed.
In Rice County, the storm moved from southwest to northeast across the county. Several buildings damaged, but no injuries were reported. Debris blocked some minor roads. Rice County officials issued a disaster declaration for the county. Four separate tank batteries near 2nd Ave. and Ave. H caught on fire. The county 911 dispatch center has been transferred to the regional 911 Back-up center.
Rice County Sheriff’s office reported damage to the sheriff’s office and the jail roof; prisoners are being transferred to off-site location.
A house was reported destroyed in Conway Springs in Sumner County.
The Kansas Highway Patrol reports that U.S.160 just east of Harper County is closed due to downed power lines. K-18 in Ottawa County has been reopened after its closure due to a leak at gas plant.
Westar Energy is reporting power outages affecting approximately 11,000 customers; approximately 10,000 of those outages are in Sedgwick County.