EUREKA — Sirens blared late Tuesday evening as Carson Marlar relaxed on his front porch with his friends.

Unconcerned, the group prepared to drive around, looking for the storm. Instead Marlar found himself held to the ground in his kitchen by a powerful wind that tore a northern wall off his home in the 400 block of Maple.

He stood on the porch just afternoon Wednesday surveying the damage from a powerful tornado that cut a path of destruction through the town of about 2,500 in the southern Flint Hills.

As of 3 p.m. officials estimated about 70 homes were damaged, including 10 that had been completely destroyed and around 15 that were inhabitable. With outbuildings and other damage, more than 150 buildings total buildings were damaged. At least eight, including two who were in critical condition, were injured in the storm, according to the Kansas Adjutant General’s Office.

Eureka gets direct hit from Tuesday night tornado

“What do you do? You pick up and move on,” Marlar said.

Marlar had ducked into his bedroom to grab a few things before heading to the basement. The force of the storm had pushed in windows and his down. As he struggled to get the basement door, the wind knocked him to the floor.

“I made into my kitchen entrance, and it was just like I was pushed down to the floor,” he said as he described seeing his wall torn away from the house. “My friend Toby was right there getting ready to go to the basement, and I didn’t see him no more. I thought he got sucked out.”

Related content

Eureka gets direct hit from Tuesday night tornado

The 40-year-old who grew up in Eureka was still a bit shaken as he walked around his yard. Inside the home, sunlight shown through the mostly removed roof. Dirt and other debris littered the floor with broken glass and crumbling drywall.

Marlar anticipated staying with friends or family, but for those who didn’t have anywhere to go, the American Red Cross established a shelter at the Methodist Church, 521 N. Main Street. Shelter captain Alvin Anderson said about a dozen people had sought assistance at the church.

The tornado moved from southwest to the northeast, ripping up trees, blowing down homes and mangling power poles. At the Eureka Junior/Senior High School, 815 N. Jefferson St, on the northeast side of town, damage was extensive. The storm chewed up a red scoreboard for the Eureka Tornadoes. The “home” side of the board was bent around the back of billboard and walls of a grandstand, dubbed “Tornado Alley”, were caved in.

Two blocks from Marlar’s home, Michael Hays leaned against a tree. The storm ripped off shingles, broke a few windows and destroy a garage at the home on the corner of 4th Street and St. Nicholas.

When the storm struck, Hays said he was watching a weather radar as his step-daughter ran through the house “screaming” that a tornado had touched down. By the time he got the basement, it was over, he said.

“Yeah,” he said with a breath. “I’d consider us pretty lucky.”

At the community center, Hollie Tapley, volunteer coordinator with Great Plains United Methodist Disaster Response, attempted to wrangle “the flood” of volunteers pouring in from across Kansas. Nearly 100 had signed in through the organization, but a total number of volunteers couldn’t be estimated, she said.

“It’s always chaos in the beginning,” said Tapley, a Topeka resident who travels across Kansas and Nebraska assisting with disaster relief.

With several thousan Westar customers without power in Greenwood County, crews spent most of Wednesday replacing poles and cleaning up downed power lines. A large portion of the city, from Mulberry Street east to Jefferson Street and from River Street north to 7th Street, was blocked off even to some residents as crews worked on power lines, she said.

Volunteers wouldn’t be allowed into the area in large numbers until downed lines were removed, she said. Efforts on Wednesday largely centered on clean up.

Topeka Fire Chief Craig Duke on Twitter said training chief Kevin Flory and Fire Marshal Michael Martin went to Eureka, as part of a state incident management team to help the citizens and other first responders in.

Residents and officials Wednesday repeatedly contrasted the tornado’s destruction with one from 2016 that cut a path in the opposite direction through the northern part of the town. This year’s storm was far more destructive, city manager Ian Martell said.

He pointed to a map that and circled an area near the high school that saw destruction in both storms.

“Those residents got a double whomping, so they’re discouraged. It’s tough,” he said, adding he expected the city would pull together the help those in needs. “That’s the Kansas spirit, I think.”