One confirmed dead after tornado strikes town, many homes destroyed

Cherokee County News Advocate – April 27, 2014
By Patrick Richardson

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There is one confirmed fatality after a tornado slammed through Baxter Springs Sunday night felling trees and destroying homes.

Baxter Springs Chief of Police Mike Kleiwer said one person was dead and nine had been taken to area emergency rooms. At least 25 were “walking wounded.”

Power was down over much of the town and a gas main break kept volunteers out of parts of town.

Agencies from all over the area responded to the aftermath of the storm and Governor Sam Brownback has issued a state of emergency declaration.

According to a release from Brownback’s office, Jason Allison, Cherokee County emergency manager, reported the tornado was estimated to be three blocks wide running southwest to northeast. Sixty to 70 homes and 20-25 businesses are reported destroyed. Search and rescue efforts are underway.

Gov. Sam Brownback gave approval for a State of Disaster Emergency proclamation at 6:30 p.m. The State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka was partially activated at 6:50 p.m. to coordinate the response of state agencies. Personnel from the Kansas Division of Emergency Management are in contact with Cherokee County emergency management officials to respond to requests for assistance. Both the Northeast and Southeast Region Incident Management Teams are mobilizing to go to Baxter Springs and assist local authorities.

Kleiwer said they were issuing a voluntary curfew for 10 p.m. Sunday night and Baxter Springs schools are closed Monday.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster