Tornado Damages 32 Homes, Kills Man in Jackson County, Kansas

By: 13 News
By: 13 News

Cleanup is underway in northwest Jackson County, where a Wednesday night tornado damaged dozens of home and claimed one life.

The sounds of heavy equipment pierced the countryside around the town of Soldier Thursday, replacing the sounds Andra and Larry Holliday heard from their basement overnight.

Andra says their daughter called to alert them to the oncoming storm. They crowded next to a concrete wall in their basement, and three or four minutes later, a tornado hit. Andra says they could hear the trees breaking the glass and the creaking of other items as they were being blown away. When it was over, they climbed out of the basement and, in the illumination from the lightning, could tell their roof was gone.

The Holliday's weren't alone. The neighbor's home across the street was levelled. In all, Jackson County emergency crews say 32 homes suffered damage, some of it minor, some homes with only the foundation left.

Det. Al Dunn with the Jackson Co. Sheriff's Office says assessing the damage overnight wasn't easy. He says the county has a lot of dirt and gravel back road, some "mud roads." With trees and power lines down, he says they'd go one direction and have to turn around and head in another direction.

Dunn estimates the tornado was more than a quarter mile wide and travelled nine miles on the ground. He says emergency crews started checking houses as soon as they could to see if anyone was injured. At a mobile home near 286th and I Road, their worst fears were realized. The home ended up across the road. The man who lived there, 62-year old George Askren, was killed.

But amidst the devastation, families like the Hollidays are seeing the Soldier community living up to the sign at the town's entrance which proclaims, "A Community that Cares."

"People just started coming and saying what can we do? How can we help?" Andra says. "It makes you feel blessed."

631 SW Commerce Pl. Topeka, Kansas 66615 phone: 785-272-6397 fax: 785-272-1363 email:
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