Twister Struck Baxter Springs Moments After Warning

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BAXTER SPRINGS, Kan. (AP/WIBW)-- A National Weather Service meteorologist says the tornado that destroyed more than 100 homes and businesses and hurt 25 people in Baxter Springs, Kan., dropped so quickly that sirens were activated only a minute or two before the twister hit.

Meteorologist Bill Davis in Springfield, Mo., says the same thing happened in Quapaw, Okla., where at least one person was killed late Sunday afternoon. Davis called it a worst-case scenario in which a tornado forms right in a populated area.

He says the E-F2 tornado that hit Baxter Springs spun up so fast that the weather service had barely gotten a tornado warning out when it struck.

One person, identified as a Baxter Springs man, was killed in Quapaw.

82 year old Buela Thompson, a Baxter Springs resident, took shelter in her bathroom questioning if she'd make it through the storm. "I could hear the wind blowing and the windows popping out. I though maybe I could make it, maybe I can," said Thompson.

State officials like Senator Jerry Moran, Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins and Governor Sam Brownback toured the damage on Monday. Governor Brownback said, "We will do everything possible that we can within the governmental structure. These people have suffered a huge loss and you just try to encourage them."

The weather service continued issuing tornado warnings after the storm left Baxter Springs, but the tornado didn't touch down again

A team from the agency's office in Springfield, Mo., rated the tornado Monday after surveying damage from the tornado that struck around 5:39 p.m. Sunday.

Survey teams also confirmed that an EF1 tornado touched down around the same time Sunday near Hammond, in southeast Kansas' Bourbon County. The tornado toppled a grain elevator onto railroad cars and damaged six homes before quickly moving north into Linn County.

Southeast Kansas Incident Management Team spokeswoman Kari West said late Sunday night that another person died, but it was from a medical condition and not attributed to the storm.

Cherokee County Sheriff David Groves said nine of the 25 injured were taken to area hospitals but were not considered life threatening.
Search and rescue crews had gone through all of the damaged properties more than once, and everyone was accounted for.

The Weather Service says the tornado traveled about eight miles, starting in Quapaw, Okla., and ending about two miles northeast of Baxter Springs. The twister was roughly 150 yards wide in the Baxter Springs area.

The strength of the tornado in Quapaw was being determined separately by the National Weather Service office in Tulsa, Okla.

The Kansas Department of Revenue is taking steps to help residents replace critical documents lost in Sunday's tornadoes.

The agency is waiving fees on replacement driver's licenses, vehicle titles and vehicle registrations for residents of Cherokee, Bourbon and Linn counties.

An executive order signed Monday by Gov. Sam Brownback also waives the fees for replacement birth certificates and marriage licenses issued by the state health department

The Salvation Army sent two mobile feeding units to Baxter Springs. Each unit, also called canteens, are able of feeding up to 2,000 people a day. They will be providing social services at Trinity Worship Center, 225 E. 16th Street, in Baxter Springs.

People who live in Baxter Springs will be able to apply to The Salvation Army for direct assistance for immediate aid on Tuesday. The assistance is meant to help pay for food, shelter, personal care items, and medicine.

You can help The Salvation Army provide assistance. They say the best way to help is with a monetary contribution, by phone to 1-800-SAL-ARMY [1-800-725-2769] or by mail, send your check, marked "Baxter Springs Tornado" to:

3637 Broadway
Kansas City, MO 64111

or locally to:
PO Box 599
Topeka, KS 66601

The Midway-Kansas Chapter of the Red Cross say volunteers are on the scene in Baxter Springs to help those affected by the tornado that struck Sunday evening.

A shelter team helped residents impacted by the storm by offering housing, a hot meal, minor first aid and a shoulder to lean on.

Currently local restaurants are assisting in feeding the victims.

“In the days and weeks to come, the Midway-Kansas Chapter will be coordinating with emergency officials and local community partners to help residents impacted by the tornado get back on their feet,” said Bev Morlan, Executive Director. “The Red Cross will keep shelters open as long as needed, in addition to providing mobile feeding and mental health support to those affected by the storm.”

The Red Cross is offering these tips to those affected area to stay safe.

- Continue listening to local radio or television stations or a NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions. If you are away from home, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.

- Continue listening to local radio or television stations or a NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions. If you are away from home, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.

- Stay out of damaged buildings.

- When it is safe to return home, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and sturdy shoes when examining your walls, doors, staircases and windows for damage.

- Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and report them to the utility company immediately.

- Use battery-powered lanterns or flashlights when examining buildings. Avoid using candles.

- If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get everyone out of the building quickly. Turn off the gas using the outside main valve if you can, and call the gas company from a neighbor’s home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.

- Clean up spilled medications, bleaches, gasoline, or other flammable liquids that could become a fire hazard.

- Take pictures of the damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance claims.

- Use the telephone only for emergency calls. Telephone lines are frequently overwhelmed in disaster situations. They need to be kept clear for emergency calls to get through.

- Watch your animals closely. Keep all your animals under your direct control. Your pets may be able to escape from your home or through a broken fence. Pets may become disoriented, particularly because tornadoes and the heavy rains that accompany them will usually affect scent markers that normally allow animals to find their homes.

To help the victims of the tornado contact the Red Cross at 1-800-RedCross or visit