GIRARD — After days of waiting for confirmation that Monday’s storm included what could officially be classified as a tornado south of Pittsburg, the National Weather Service issued an initial assessment that there were in fact two.
Preliminary NWS reports indicate that two EF-1 tornadoes touched down within a mile of each other on Monday, Crawford County Emergency Manager Jason VanBecelaere told the Morning Sun on Friday afternoon, causing damage in the Langdon Lane (S. 220th St.) area as well as in an area further to the southeast.
VanBecelaere said tree removal operations in the Langdon Lane area will begin on Wednesday, and urged people to avoid the area to allow work to get done. Tree removal work will take at least a week, VanBecelaere said.
Earlier in the day, VanBecelaere spoke at the Crawford County Commission meeting, presenting an emergency declaration following Monday’s tornadoes and giving an update on cleanup efforts. More severe weather, of course, could still be on the way.
VanBecelaere said Westar Energy did an “amazing” job fixing downed lines and restoring power after Monday’s tornadoes.
“They brought crews in from everywhere,” he said. “As far as I know, today everybody in Crawford County is back up with electric.”
Sheriff Danny Smith also addressed the commission, saying various county departments had done a great job working together to provide emergency relief during and after the recent storms.
Smith said that local agencies often talk about their inter-agency cooperation.
“It’s one thing to sit in a group of people and do that at a table top,” Smith said. “This week was a perfect example when you put those plans into action and it works like it does.”
Smith said it was very unfortunate that the area was hit by tornadoes and flooding but at the same time it was fortunate that there were no deaths or serious injuries reported as a result of the storms.
“I just want to kind of give you guys a little heads up of how many agencies were involved,” Smith said.
Aside from the Sheriff’s Office and Emergency Management Department, the Crawford County Road and Bridge Department, City of Pittsburg crews, Pittsburg Police Department, Fire Department, City of Pittsburg Public Information Manager Sarah Runyon, Baker Township Fire Department, the Girard Police Department, Crawford County Emergency Medical Services and the Kansas Highway Patrol, among others, all joined in the effort to help with the storm relief and cleanup efforts, Smith said.
Commissioner Tom Moody thanked the first responders on behalf of the whole commission.
“It’s times like that that you see how lucky we are to live in Crawford County,” Moody said.
Despite the effective storm response and cooperation among agencies, it is expected to take a month or longer to fully clean up and repair damage caused by the tornadoes and storms of the past week.
“We’d ask the public just to be patient,” Moody said. “We’re doing it, you know, as fast as we can.”