Storms leave flooding, damage throughout Kansas

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 | 5:18 p.m. CDT

TOPEKA, Kan. — Tornadoes were spotted in the Kansas City area Wednesday as severe weather continued across Kansas, but only minor damage and no injuries were reported.

One tornado was reported in Louisburg about 10:50 a.m., Miami County Undersheriff Wayne Minckley said. He said officers saw the twister lift a pickup truck, spin it and drop it to the ground. The driver escaped with minor injuries as the storm moved north toward downtown Kansas City, Mo.

There were no reports of injuries from the storm that came a day after two people were killed in Stafford County when high winds sent a tree through their windshield. The victims were identified Wednesday as Linda Gleason and her 17-year-old son, Jeffrey Gleason, both of St. John. Linda Gleason's daughter, 21-year-old Kristin Gleason, was in fair condition at a hospital.

Damage reports from Wednesday's storm also were minor, said Sharon Watson, spokeswoman for the Kansas Division of Emergency Management. But areas throughout much of the state were still reporting power outages, tree damage and minor flooding from Tuesday's storm.

Gov. Sam Brownback urged Kansas residents to have an emergency plan in place. He said lives were saved when a tornado hit Reading on Saturday night because several residents had planned in advance to go to a United Methodist church for shelter.

"I know I tend to get complacent about storms when they come through and thinking, 'Well, OK, I've lived in Kansas my whole life. This isn't going to affect me.' But it does," Brownback said. "I would really just hope that people would pay attention to the alarms when they go off, particularly when they're in their area, that they would have a plan ahead of time about what they would do."

Kansas hospitals are treating 136 people from the Joplin, Mo., area after a tornado that struck the city Sunday did heavy damage to a major hospital there, said Miranda Myrick, spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. At least 122 people were killed in Joplin, and about 750 were injured by the deadliest single tornado in more than 60 years.

Brownback signed an executive order Wednesday to suspend some of the state's trucking rules and allow for assistance with the Joplin disaster. The action waives some fees for heavy load permits and expands the hours that truckers can work at night, on holidays and when there's low visibility if they're helping to haul away debris or bring supplies. It will be in effect through June 22.

High water closed Kansas Highway 192 east of Easton in Leavenworth County, and Brownback said flooding has become a concern in several parts of the state.

"We continue to have significant severe weather problems across the state of Kansas," Brownback said.

Cleanup continued in Reading, where Saturday's tornado killed one person.

"Recovery seems to be going well," said Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, director of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management and the adjutant general. "The town is receiving good support from surrounding communities and from volunteer organizations, as well as individuals."

But officials said one concern was sightseers who were coming to view the damage to the town, which is about 50 miles south of Topeka. They urged people to stay home.

Tafanelli said the Kansas National Guard had not sent any troops to Reading to help with debris removal or security.

"There is still a lot to be done," Tafanelli said. "But I think the town has a good start on the road to recovery."


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