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Emergency crews searching homes, assessing damage around Lawrence

Houses damaged south of Lawrence (WIBW/Shawn Wheat)
Houses damaged south of Lawrence (WIBW/Shawn Wheat)(WIBW)
Published: May. 28, 2019 at 7:37 PM CDT
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Fifteen people were injured in Douglas Co. as severe weather and tornadoes ripped through the area Tuesday evening, Douglas Co. Emergency Management says.

Three of them suffered serious injuries, however no one was killed, the agency noted.

A spokesperson for Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Janice Early, told 13 NEWS some people had broken bones and some were injured when their vehicles overturned during the storms.

Jillian Rodrigue, assistant director of Douglas Co. Emergency Mgt., told 13 NEWS the most extensive damage is along Hwy. 59, south of Lawrence and north of Pleasant Grove. Several homes are destroyed in that area and KDOT closed the highway due to a truck and debris blocking the road.

Douglas Co. Emergency Management said Tuesday night it was too early to say how they would handle clean-up efforts on Wednesday, and if they will limit access to damaged areas.

"We could sure use your help, DG Co folks," the Douglas Co. Sheriff's Office tweeted. "We have several houses throughout the county that have sustained damage & debris is scattered. Please help us help those who need it by staying away from these areas. We know you want to see what happened, but help us help others first.

From there, Rodrigue said the tornado turned northeast and followed a path along the south edge of Lawrence, generally along the Wakarusa River, and toward Eudora. Several homes between there sustained heavy damage, and emergency crews were rescuing people from those homes Tuesday night, she said.

The American Red Cross set up a shelter for anyone needing a place to stay in Building 21, at the Douglas Co. Fairgrounds, 2110 Harper Street. They will allow pets at that location.

The agency had originally planned to open a shelter The First Church of the Nazarene, in Lawrence, but it has lost power and they are currently looking for a new site.

Emergency officials still were getting official reports of damage to Eudora. A 13 NEWS photojournalist on the scene saw power poles snapped and several homes with damage.

Rodrigue said authorities needed people to stay away from the damaged areas so emergency crews could do their work. She said

the best way people could assist family and friends was to keep get them information about any services they might need.

She said the Red Cross was working to organize shelters for people who needed a place to stay.

Lawrence Police reported to the Emergency Operations Center that the KU campus did not suffer any damage, only some minor street flooding as the storm passed through.