Storms that blew through northwest Kansas on May 8 resulted in serious damage to public and private property.
The state of Kansas is seeking a federal emergency declaration, and if successful, Ellis County likely will have enough damage to qualify for local funds, Ellis County Emergency Management Director Bill Ring said at Monday’s Ellis County Commission meeting.
“For us to be involved, we have to have exceeded our threshold, which is $101,000 (in damages),” Ring said. “We have far exceeded that threshold.”
Rural electric cooperatives are bearing the brunt of the damage, with Midwest Energy alone reporting at least 75 downed electric poles and numerous damaged transmission lines, Ring said.
The county is in the process of figuring other related costs, such as overtime for emergency responders.
A confirmed tornado north of Catharine on May 8 was rated at EF-2 for winds of at least 125 mph. That storm destroyed a metal building that was both a private residence and barn near the intersection of 320th Avenue and Riverview Road 8 miles north of Catharine.
Another barn on Saline River Road in the same area also sustained serious damage.
A second tornado was reported north of Ellis, but was rated as an EF-0 because no damage was reported. Winds gusts, however, were as high as 80 mph, Ring said.
“During this whole night, we had no injuries,” Ring said.
“That’s the best we can hope for.”
The city of Hays was in a tornado warning at one point, and sirens also were sounded in Schoenchen and Antonino as the storm system moved through. Severe thunderstorm warnings affected other parts of the county.
Ring expressed gratitude to first responders and emergency personnel who helped coordinate storm response throughout the event.
“It got intense for awhile,” he said. “I do appreciate that backup for the county in trying to keep things in line.”