A tornado touched down in Sedalia, Kan., this afternoon, causing heavy damage in parts of the city.
The tornado hit after 12:20 p.m. CDT, leveling buildings and leaving semi-tractor trailers on their side.
Fifteen people were treated at Bothwell Regional Medical Center for minor injuries. Trees were reported down near Sedalia Middle School and a church-affiliated building was damaged by flying debris, the newspaper reported.
Pettis County Emergency Management Director Dave Clippert advised people to stay away from affected neighborhoods until emergency responders finished assessing the damage.
“Our efforts are being hampered by sightseers,” he told The Associated Press. “We have a dangerous situation with power lines down and debris on the roads, and we are asking people to stay clear of the area until we get a handle on things.”
The Sedalia Democrat reported that the First Student school bus barn and the buses inside it were damaged.
The Brentwood neighborhood in southern Sedalia received some of the heaviest damage.
Clayton Wright said he and his wife, Gloria, were in their home in the 3400 block of Stewart Avenue.
They had just heard on the radio that they should take cover when debris started hitting the house, shattering windows and breaking a tree limb, Wright said.
“I’ve never been in a tornado before so I didn’t know what it would sound like,” Wright said. “It sounded like an engine roaring.”
The debris struck their house just as they were headed downstairs to safety.
“It happened so fast so fast,” Wright said.
After the tornado passed, Wright said they emerged from the basement to survey the damage.
“There is a lot of damage,” Wright said. “Tree limbs are down. Tops of houses are gone. There is even one house that is missing.”
Wright said there was also a smell of natural gas.
Neighbors came from their homes and checked to make sure no one was injured.
“So far, everybody in our neighbor is OK,” Wright said. “At least that is what I know right now.”
He said trees were down, blocking roads, and emergency crews were just arriving to the area.
Wednesday was not the first time Sedalia has born the brunt of destructive tornadoes.
In May 1977, five persons were injured and about 1,500 were left homeless after a tornado tore through the community.
Three years later, another tornado hammered the western edge of the city, injuring about 30 persons and causing about $24 million in damage. Much of the damage occurred in an industrial park, but the Sunset Mobile Home village was also hit, leaving about 100 persons homeless.
That same part of Sedalia was hit again in March 2006, and some trailer homes were damaged. A 39-year-old woman who lived near Sedalia was killed in that storm.