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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Detailed damage assessment released for Saturday night’s tornado

By Stan Finger and Fred Mann
The Wichita Eagle

The EF-3 tornado that tore through Oaklawn and southeast Wichita late Saturday night caused an estimated $146.3 million in damage to residences and businesses, according to an assessment released by Sedgwick County officials.

The tornado, which was about a mile wide at its widest point and had maximum winds of as much as 165 miles an hour, touched down at 10:21 p.m. Saturday at about 79th South and South Shady Creek Circle just south of Haysville. It began moving north-northeast and then northeast for 13.2 miles before lifting northeast of Central and Greenwich Road just before reaching the K-96 bypass at 10:42 p.m.

Along that path, the tornado damaged or destroyed 776 residences and 86 businesses, and affected another 3,481 residences and 165 businesses, county officials said.

Eleven homes were destroyed and another 66 homes and 11 businesses sustained major damage. Another 690 residences and 60 businesses sustained minor damage. Mobile homes were not included in figures for residences, because they are classified as personal property. In the Pinaire Mobile Home Park, 92 mobile homes received more than 50 percent damage.

The tornado also destroyed power poles, street signs and traffic signals.

Westar Energy reported losing 181 power poles to the tornado, and Sedgwick County officials said the county lost 10 traffic signal heads and 32 street signs. The city of Wichita estimated that it will need to replace six traffic signal heads and 72 traffic signs.

The most significant damage to city property happened at a sewer treatment plant on South Hydraulic, where a large chunk of the roof was ripped away. The city still is estimating that cost. Power to the plant was lost briefly but quickly restored that night.

Costs to replace damaged signs and signals range from $150 to $600 per unit. A crosswalk signal that was destroyed at Oaklawn Elementary School on Clifton, south of 47th Street South, will cost $50,000 to replace, the county estimates.

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com.

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