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Volunteer needs in Harveyville drop; town asks for day of rest on Sunday

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, March 2, 2012, at 9:44 a.m.
  • Updated Thursday, April 3, 2014, at 12:40 p.m.

More photos online

See this story at Kansas.com to view photos from Tuesday’s storms. You’ll also find hundreds of historical photos of tornado devastation in Kansas and the Midwest, dating back to 1935.

Volunteer response to help tornado-ravaged Harveyville has been so overwhelming that most of the cleanup work was completed by Friday and the town is asking for some rest.

Over the past two days, more than 1,000 volunteers have helped and nearly 600 loads of debris have been hauled out of the Waubaunsee County town of just over 200 people. More than 50 private contractors have also pitched in to help.

But only volunteer groups trained in disaster relief will be needed from now on, and Sunday has been declared a day of rest, said Mark Engholm, a spokesman for Kansas’ special response team for disasters.

“We’ve had an outstanding response, and we appreciate people coming out,” Engholm said. “It’s been so good we’re way ahead of where we thought we’d be. But the people in this town are exhausted. They just want to take a break on Sunday.”

More than 200 loads of debris were hauled out of Harveyville on Thursday – the first day volunteers were allowed in the town since Tuesday night’s tornado – and another 395 loads were hauled out Friday.

“All the roads are cleaned up,” Engholm said. “The things we’re doing now are like tearing down houses. We need groups that are trained to do specific tasks.”

Any trained group interested in helping is asked to e-mail harveyvilletornado@gmail.com before coming. Groups should provide their size, special skills and the equipment they have available.

Groups accepted will be contacted by local coordinators, who will match them with specific needs. Work will be done Saturday but only by the trained groups that have made contact by calling 211 or through the e-mail, Engholm said.

Mission Valley High School, which had been a volunteer center, will no longer be used.

Debris has been transported to a nearby landfill specifically created to take in the material. It will be separated at the landfill just east of Harveyville to determine what can be buried at the site, Engholm said. Hazardous materials will be sent to established landfills that are equipped to handle that debris, he said.

One person was killed and at least 11 were injured in the EF-2 tornado, which had winds of up to 130 mph. More than 40 homes and residences were damaged in the town southwest of Topeka.

Reach Rick Plumlee at 316-268-6660 or rplumlee@wichitaeagle.com.

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