Purchase photos

Cleanup continues

4/17/2012

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

LORETTA -- Debbie Urban marveled at the sheer number of friends and neighbors who showed up to lend a helping hand after a tornado swept through the Rush County farmstead east of here, damaging everything it touched.

"This is a disaster," Debbie said as she surveyed the cleanup, still under way Monday. "But I don't feel like I lost everything because everyone has been so nice."

With just a full day's passage since Saturday's tornado, she said the scene had transformed from utter chaos to an organized cleanup effort.

Several miles to the southwest, at the John and Rita Oborny farm, a similar scenario was playing out.

The main difference, however, rested with the cleanup crew -- six of the Oborny's nine children.

Yet they were making huge progress, even restacking the dozens of pieces of irrigation pipe scattered about in an adjoining field like giant pick-up sticks.

Perhaps most amazing, John Oborny said, was the sheer force of the tornado -- toppling a 2,000-pound safe onto its side and pushing it 10 feet from where it stood.

Even inside the house, the paint cracked, evidence, he thinks, the house was on the verge of exploding as pressure from the tornado built up.

Damage at the Urban and Oborny farmsteads was in line with the path of a tornado appearing to have its genesis to the south of Rush Center, where a center pivot was overturned before hitting a residence 1 mile east of the community.

Despite the damage, both the Oborny and Urban homes essentially were spared significant damage, although it is unclear how the structures survived.

At the Oborny farmstead, the tornado swept through a small gap between the house and a shed before smashing a small outbuilding, sending tin aloft into a tree.

At the Urban residence, everything was hit, including cedar trees at the far end of the house. Grass and dirt coated the Urban residence, and a window was broken out.

"I laugh," said Randy Urban, "but this really hurts me. My dad and I did this together."

They built the round top building where all the equipment was stored together, buying it used from S&W Supply in Hays.

"What's sad about this is I didn't appreciate my neighbors the way I should have," he said.

It's not that he was a bad neighbor, Urban said, but rather the way they turned out Sunday to help.

"It's almost tear-jerking," Urban said.

Even the group of pheasant hunters from Tulsa, Okla., called and offered to help, willing to bring a crew to help with the cleanup.

While it only represents a small part of the damage, the Urbans bemoaned the loss of a $6,200 door just installed on the shed.

"We had that on for 20 hours," Debbie Urban said. "We haven't even paid for it."

"The insurance I had on the shed will pay for the door," Randy Urban said.

Instead, the Urbans count their blessings.

They were inside their home when the tornado hit.

"We looked outside and couldn't see anything," Debbie Urban said. "It was pitch white. Within 20, 30 seconds, it was gone."

She said they weren't aware severe weather was in the area and instead just took a look outside.

"Randy said, 'That's a twister,' " she said.

To the southwest, Rita Oborny and a son were home when the tornado hit.

"My son was standing by the storm door," she said. "The window blew in and glass was all over him."

"I'm thinking we're lucky," John Oborny said, because they still have their house. "But the people with no house, that's hard."