Baxter Springs residents begin cleanup from EF2 tornado - WFXG FOX 54 - News Now

Baxter Springs residents begin cleanup from EF2 tornado

Residents view damage from a Sunday night tornado in Baxter Springs, KS, Monday, April 28, 2014. The tornado left a trail of shattered homes, twisted metal and hanging power lines. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner) Residents view damage from a Sunday night tornado in Baxter Springs, KS, Monday, April 28, 2014. The tornado left a trail of shattered homes, twisted metal and hanging power lines. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
BAXTER SPRINGS, KS (KCTV/AP) -

A tornado that tore through the southeastern Kansas town of Baxter Springs left 25 people injured and more than 100 homes and businesses damaged, but caused no serious injuries or deaths, Cherokee County Sheriff David Groves said Monday.

Nine of those injured when the storm hit Sunday evening were hospitalized at Joplin area hospitals with injuries that are not considered life-threatening. He says a person who died Sunday night suffered from a medical condition and the death was not attributed to the storm.

The storm did damage ranging from minor to total destruction of 100 homes and 12 businesses in the town of about 4,200. On Monday, workers were restoring power to about 40 percent of the community and to 91 residents whose gas was disconnected after the twister.

The storm, which Groves said was two miles long and two blocks wide, also left behind mounds of debris, twisted metal, hanging power lines and residents grateful to have survived.

As residents begin clean up, there have already been at least two reports of looters. Police include officers from the Joplin Police Department are conducting patrols to prevent thefts.

Among those helping with the cleanup are volunteers from Joplin and Parsons, KS, which have both experienced devastating storms.

"There's a lot of people who need help and prayers," said Joplin resident Jeanie French who took the day off work to help pick up debris.

Insurance adjusters quickly descended on Baxter Springs and are helping residents deal with damage to vehicles, homes and other property. It is recommended that claims be filed as quickly as possible and work with your insurance company to ensure the repairs are done properly and with a reputable company.

Karen Irving survived the tornado, and said it ripped through the town quickly.

"My husband said, 'Get in the closet now,'" she said.

For Michael Hessee, he watched the tornado come out of a cloud and touch down.

"I saw stuff spinning in it. I thought, 'That's a real tornado.' I grabbed (my wife)," he said. "It seemed like two minutes, and it was over."

Sue McBride, 71, woke up Monday at an emergency shelter set up by the Red Cross saying she was worried about what she was going to do next.

"It would be better if I was 10 years younger," the retired sewing machine operator said. "But I am alive. Thank God."

She was sitting on her porch Sunday night when the tornado sirens went off and debris began flying. She was able to run into a hallway outside a bathroom when windows broke out and glass began flying over her.

"I didn't have one scratch on me and I was fine," she said.

In her shirt pocket - next to the worn picture of Jesus she always carries as a good-luck piece - she found a sliver of glass a couple inches long.

"Some angel was watching here," she said. "I am just so thrilled to be alive and not hurt."

Jerry Thompson, 69, lived in a senior living apartment complex that was among the worst hit in Baxter Springs.

"I seen that sucker coming, and I shut the door," he said Monday.

He ran inside his apartment but did not make it to the shelter of the bathroom before the twister took the roof off the apartment. Part of a wall and other debris landed on top of him, and he said his pickup was blown 40 to 50 feet away. He had a bandaged elbow and scraped arm Monday but said he was doing fine as he smoked a cigarette outside the Red Cross shelter.

Gov. Sam Brownback declared a state of disaster emergency for Baxter Springs on Sunday evening.

Brownback and U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins visited Baxter Springs to view the damage. They traveled to Baxter Springs in a Kansas Army National Guard helicopter.

Jenkins represents the Second Congressional District, which includes the state's southeast corner.

The tornado was one of several that hit parts of the Midwest on Sunday. Six miles south of Baxter Springs, a tornado killed one person and injured six in Quapaw, OK.

"We are pretty confident that this is the same tornado that struck both Quapaw and Baxter Springs," National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Griffin told the Joplin Globe.

The Kansas Division of Emergency Management said the violent weather also toppled a grain elevator onto railroad tracks, derailed six train cars and damaged six homes in the southeastern Kansas town of Hammond, about five miles north of Fort Scott. A tornado touchdown was also reported in the Cherokee County town of Galena, but a police dispatcher was not aware of any damage.

About 75 miles north of Baxter Springs, Linn County emergency manager Douglas Barlet said some barns and structures were destroyed, but no one was injured when at least one tornado struck late Sunday afternoon near the Missouri border. An historic church and construction shop were destroyed in Pleasanton.

Barlet said it appeared that two tornadoes hit the county - one that moved north and a second that crossed into Bates County in west-central Missouri. Television news helicopters showed the tornado churning across farmland near the Bates County town of Hume, damaging one building before it lifted. No injuries were reported there.

KCTV5's DeAnn Smith and Nathan Vickers contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) and the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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