1 Dead Following Harveyville Tornado

By: Melissa Brunner, 13 News Staff
By: Melissa Brunner, 13 News Staff

HARVEYVILLE, Kan. (WIBW) - Hospital officials confirmed Thursday that Richard Slade, a volunteer firefighter in Harveyville died of injuries suffered during Tuesday's storm. Slade's home reportedly collapsed on him.

Slade, 53, was airlifted to Stormont-Vail Emergency and Trauma Center in Topeka Tuesday night after being pulled from the wreckage of his home. He remained in critical condition and the decision was made Wednesday afternoon to take him off life support. Slade passed away Wednesday evening.

12 people were injured in the aftermath of Tuesday's tornado. A pregnant woman was among those injured.

Volunteers were being allowed into Harveyville Thursday to begin assisting cleanup from an EF-2 tornado.

The United Way of the Great Plains is coordinating the effort. Those who wish to volunteer Thursday must report to Mission Valley High School to check in. Volunteer hours will be 9 am to 5 pm. (See below for a complete schedule of volunteer hours and instructions)

The National Weather Service confirmed Wednesday that a brief, but strong tornado hit Harveyville around 9:02 pm Tuesday. NWS rates the tornado an EF-2. They say it was on the ground for four minutes and cut a path five miles long and as wide as 150 yards.

Gov. Sam Brownback declared a state of disaster emergency late Tuesday for Wabaunsee County to assist with recovery efforts.

Reports of the storm's hit started coming in just after 9 p.m. Tuesday. Late Tuesday, emergency crews were beginning a house to house search for any other possible victims.

Shawnee County Emergency Manager Dave Sterbenz says roughly four blocks of Harveyville suffered significant damage. An early concern about a mass casualty situation at an apartment building, he said, turned out to be unfounded and everyone in the building is accounted for.

Sterbenz said the Red Cross and Salvation Army were called to assist rescue crews. He says crews from agencies in Shawnee, Wabaunsee, Osage and Pottawatomie were among those responding. Some agencies brought in light towers so crews can continue working through the night.

Volunteer Information for Harveyville:
Beginning Thursday, Mar. 1, volunteers should follow the instructions below. For ongoing updates, go to www.unitedwayplains.org or call 2-1-1 (United Way's 24/7 information line)

Check in at Mission Valley School (12913 Mission Valley Rd, rural Eskridge, Kan.)
Volunteer Times:
Thursday: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Friday: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Saturday: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sunday: Noon - 5 p.m

Volunteers will complete liability release forms, receive wrist-bands, go through a safety briefing and be staged for transportation to Harveyville

Organized groups with chainsaws or larger equipment will also need to report to the school each day for check-in. They will receive directions to drive into Harveyville for work assignments

Remember to dress appropriately, including hats, gloves and close-toed shoes

Food and water will be available for lunch.

Regarding material donations, no clothing is needed. Companies or individuals with large equipment or construction materials should call 2-1-1 to register those items. If those items are needed, you will be contacted by officials in the Emergency Operations Center in Harveyville.

American Red Cross Supporting Harveyville
The American Red Cross is providing a variety of support to the residents of Harveyville affected by the severe storm and possible tornado that struck the town Tuesday evening, Feb. 28.

Anyone needing to find the location of relatives should go online to the American Red Cross website (www.redcross. org) and click on the Safe and Well link. People can use this as a means of two-way communication to leave messages. The Red Cross set up in the Harveyville fire station at noon to allow residents to report their status for the Safe and Well site.

The Red Cross is operating a feeding station on Main Street/K-195 in front of the fire station for residents and emergency responders. To support this effort, the Red Cross is seeking commercially prepared food from restaurants and other commercial food providers. No home-made food will be accepted, only commercially prepared food items.

Tyson Foods is providing food for lunch on Wednesday, Feb 29.The donation of commercially prepared food is being coordinated through the Topeka Red Cross office. Call 785-234-0568.

The Adjutant General's Office says anyone wanting to volunteer should call the United Way's 211 phone line for more information. Volunteers were not being allowed on the scene Wednesday. Officials said Wednesday was being reserved for citizens to survey their property damage and for a full damage assessment of the town to be made.

Harveyville is located in Wabaunsee County near the Osage County line, southwest of Auburn. The town's reported population is just over 230 people.

News release issued just after midnight by Gov. Sam Brownback's office:
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback declared a State of Disaster Emergency tonight for Wabaunsee County. An apparent tornado struck the City of Harveyville just after 9 p.m. One person has been critically hurt, and several minor injuries were reported. A number of homes were damaged along with a church, and there are numerous reports of trees down and power lines down throughout the area.

The governor’s declaration activates the disaster response and recovery portions of the Kansas Response Plan, authorizing state resources to expedite emergency assistance statewide, as necessary.

Wabaunsee County Emergency Management advised the Kansas Division of Emergency Management (KDEM) that four individuals had been trapped in a structure for a time. Law enforcement officials confirm everyone has been accounted for in the area.

Wabaunsee requested through KDEM a search and rescue team and an Incident Management Team from Northeast Kansas deploy to Harveyville to assist with the response. The American Red Cross has been notified to assist. A shelter has been established at the high school in Harveyville.

Wabaunsee County requested mutual aid assistance from Pottawatomie County; American Medical Response is the ambulance service and has requested additional resources from AMR in Topeka.

The Kansas Division of Emergency Management will continue to staff the State Emergency Operation Center in Topeka to monitor the situation and manage requests for additional state resources.


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