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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sedgwick County commissioner: Damage could reach $283 million

BY DEB GRUVER
The Wichita Eagle

Damage from Saturday's storms could reach as high as $283 million, but that's likely a worst-case scenario, said Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Tim Norton, who declared a state of disaster about 12:30 a.m.

The early estimate is based on appraised values of properties along the path of a tornado that barreled along south Wichita.

Speaking from the county's emergency operation center, Norton said officials used overlay maps and property value records to cipher a guess at damage.

He stressed that the $283 million figure -- the county's adopted budget for this year was about $411 million -- was just that, an estimate. The figure likely will decrease once officials can see how much damage those properties actually sustained.

"A lot of it is trying to gather the data that's out in the field," Norton said about 1 a.m.

He noted that the estimate does not include infrastructure such as traffic lights, utility poles, traffic signs and such.

Norton initiated the county's emergency operations plan and notified state officials that additional support and assistance may be needed, a news release said.

Gov. Sam Brownback later issued a declaration of disaster emergency.

“We are continuing to assess all the damages across the state,” Brownback said in a release, “and signing this declaration clears the way for making state aid available to those counties that need help with clean-up and recovery.”

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