Brownback tours damage in Baxter Springs

A Southeast Kansas town is still cleaning up after a deadly tornado hit Sunday night.

Kansas First News flew with Governor Sam Brownback by blackhawk helicopter Monday afternoon to Baxter Springs.

People who live in Baxter Springs say the storm came quick.

“It happened so fast,” says one resident. “In a matter of actually seconds from when we saw the debris field come up we knew get in the house.”

“We put my bed over top of us, all of us kids and everybody in the corner and then my little brother comes in running and says ‘hey it’s for real, you know, we need to get down…it’s not a joke.”

The tornado dropped so quickly that the town’s warning sirens only sounded for about a minute before touchdown.

Monday Governor Sam Brownback toured the tornado-damaged town.

“Really trying to offer encouragement,” says Brownback. “You know, some days you try to be ‘comforter in chief’ of state, we will do everything we possibly can within governmental structure.”

There were 34 reported injuries, about 70 homes and 25 businesses were either damaged or destroyed.

Kansas First News was onboard the blackhawk helicopter traveling with the governor on the nearly hour and a half flight.

The National Weather Service surveyed the damage and categorized it as an ef2 tornado. Ef2 tornadoes are capable of producing winds of over 130 mph. This particular tornado was 150 yards wide and touched down at approximately 5:39 Sunday evening.

The community is picking up the pieces to recover from a disaster.

“We’re going to rebuild,” says Brownback. Baxter Springs is going to rebuild and we’re going to be there with you.”

Fees for replacement driver’s licenses, vehicle titles and vehicle registrations for those affected by the tornado are being waived.

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