Sedalia tornado leaves homes destroyed, 15 to 25 injured

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 | 11:30 p.m. CDT
Kimi Arnold hugs granddaughter Taylor Beebe outside Beebe's home on Manor Court after Wednesday's tornado in Sedalia. Arnold came to lend assistance to her daughter and her family.

SEDALIA — Cameron Egan stood in his kitchen with his friends, each of whom had a beer in hand. It would be an average day for him — except his roof was blown off and his kitchen was now outside.

“The house is a total loss,” Cameron Egan said. “So we’re getting all our valuables out and doing what we can. And then relocate.”

He and his wife, Amy Egan, are one of several families in the Brentwood subdivision of Sedalia whose homes were destroyed by a tornado Wednesday. The storm, which touched down at 12:20 p.m., left 15 to 25 people injured, acting Police Chief Larry Ward said.

Cameron Egan, who works the night shift as a member of the Lee’s Summit Police Department, was home when he got word of the impending storm from his wife, who is expecting to have the couple’s first child in the coming days.

“My wife called me, woke me up and told me there was a tornado coming,” Egan said. “So I went down in the basement, and I could hear it roaring pretty good.”

He waited out the storm in his basement with his dogs.

“I opened the basement door, and from the stairs I could see debris everywhere blocking the door,” Cameron Egan said. “Once I got past that, well obviously I could see the sky from there, and I knew it was going to be bad.”

With their house destroyed, the Egans have no place to live or to raise their baby. Cameron Egan said his wife took solace in the fact that he survived.

“She was pretty upset, obviously cried a little bit,” Egan said. “I was on the phone with her when it was happening, so she was just glad I was OK.”

Just a few streets over from what remained of the Egan household, Mark Carey, a teacher at Smith-Cotton High School, was clearing debris from his yard. Hours earlier, Carey was surrounded by his students at school, unsure of the damage to his home.

“I was told that it was headed towards the high school and it went a little south at the end,” he said. “I knew that my house was a little south of the high school, so it was headed in this direction. I just sat there and waited for the bell to ring to come and check out the damage.”

The drive home from school usually takes Carey a matter of minutes. It took him about a half an hour Wednesday.

“The drive back to my home, I saw all the damage in south Sedalia on South 65, and you could almost see the path where the tornado took,” Carey said. “I was looking at that path where the trees were down and shaved off and all the leaves were gone and I said, 'Well, it probably rolled right down my street,’ and sure enough it did.”

Ward announced at 5:45 p.m. that the remaining two and a half days of school for Sedalia School District 200 would be canceled because of damage caused by the storm. While several school buses were destroyed, no students were injured.

“A few preschool students were en route going to school for the afternoon session when the sirens went off,” Superintendent Harriet Wolfe said. “The bus went to the closest elementary school, and the students went straight to the basement for shelter.”

Students also took shelter at Smith-Cotton Junior High School, where the cafeteria doubles as a storm shelter. Seventh grader Sam Kindle said that at the time, many students underestimated the impact of the tornado.

“People didn’t think anything was going to happen,” Kindle said. “But obviously something did.”

The two hardest hit areas, Brentwood and the Elm Hills Trailer Park, have been issued a 9 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew for those residents who are able to stay in their homes. The Celebration Center, a local church, is sheltering individuals whose homes are uninhabitable. Dave Clippert, the Emergency Management Agency Director for the Missouri Emergency Preparedness Association, said he expects about 30 people to utilize the church.

Even after a storm that displaced him and caused significant damage to his home, Carey said he is grateful that conditions in Sedalia aren’t as bad as those in Joplin following Sunday’s tornado.

“I think we all knew how devastating Joplin was with the pictures and video and stuff like that,” Carey said. “But to come home and actually see this first-hand in your own backyard and see houses actually still standing, just torn apart, really makes you wonder what they’re going through in Joplin. This is very minute compared to what they’re going through down there.”

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