(WIBW) - A state of local disaster is in effect for Greenwood County, where a tornado hit the town of Eureka Tuesday night, uprooting trees, destroying buildings, and bringing down power lines.
Authorities updated Wednesday morning that eight people were injured, one of them critically. Search and rescue efforts continued, while a state emergency response team arrived to assist. The Red Cross had a shelter set up for residents at the Methodist Church in Eureka.
The Greenwood Co. Sheriff's Office reported a preliminary damage assessment showed damage to more than 100 blocks. They say emergency sirens were activated, but the tornado developed quickly and people had little time to take shelter.
The National Weather Service has rated the tornado that struck Eureka Tuesday night as an EF-3.
The agency said winds speeds reached as high as 152 miles per hour.
The tornado, which was approximately 750 feet wide, was on the ground for six minutes and cut a path just over two miles long.
Greenwood Co. Sheriff Heath Samuels said authorities checked out 303 homes and 78 suffered damage. Twelve homes were categorized as 'failed,' meaning they were no longer livable or leaning, and 10 were totaled.
As of Wednesday afternoon, only foot traffic is allowed through the area.
The Sheriff's Office asks people planning to volunteer with the cleanup were asked to check in at noon at the Matt Samuels Community Building at 100 N. Jefferson Street.
The Incident Management Team there says volunteers may not be allowed in the affected areas until Thursday. When they do begin, operations will only be allowed in from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. for safety's sake. There will be security there overnight.
There is also a request for box fans to help residents, first responders and volunteers keep cool.
The American Red Cross has a shelter open at the Methodist Church, 521 N. Main Street, which will also serve as a cooling station for residents.
The American Red Cross is asking anyone affected by the tornado to register here: Safe and Well Website or call 1-800-RED CROSS.
The Red Cross will be conducting responder feeding operations and Operation BBQ will provide mobile canteens on site.
KDHE has determined the water supply is "safe and secure"
Topeka Fire Marshal Mike Martin and a member of the Shawnee Co. Emergency Managements staff were deployed to help with the cleanup effort.
To aid the response, a 21-mile stretch Hwy. 54 around Eureka was closed, from the K99 south junction to Flint Hills Road in Butler Co. The Kansas Highway Patrol was providing security and staffing roadblocks.
Greenwood Co. Emergency Mgt. reported to the National Weather Service around 7:20 p.m. that a tornado was on the ground, damaging structures and uprooting trees.
At 8 p.m., Greenwood Co. Emergency Mgt. tweeted:
Eureka sustained a direct hit from a tornado. Shelter at Methodist Church. No volunteers are needed right now. The area has power lines down and is not safe.
They also posted information on where equipment and first responders should report.
The Governor's office tells 13 NEWS the state's Emergency Operations Center was activated as the storms developed earlier Tuesday evening and a response team was expected to arrive in Eureka by 9:30 p.m.
“Governor Colyer has been in close contact with Adjutant General Tafanelli and is monitoring the situation closely,” communications director Kendall Marr said via email.
Westar Energy's outage map showed some 2,000 customers in Greenwood Co. without power as of 11:00 a.m.
Eureka is located east of Wichita and south of Emporia.
Besides KHP, KS Emergency Mgt. and KDOT, other state agencies assisting the response include the KS National Guard, KS Dept. of Health and Environment, State Fire Marshal, and Dept. of Children and Families.
Eureka also was hit by a tornado two years ago. The July 7, 2016, storm damaged more than 90 homes.