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Sedgwick County marks 16 Oaklawn houses ‘unsafe to occupy’

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, May 15, 2012, at 9:26 a.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, June 25, 2014, at 5:12 p.m.


Pinaire Mobile Home Park debris collected and hauled off

Click here to see the video in full screen or to e-mail to a friend.

Tornado brush & tree limbs hauled to burn pit

Click here to see the video in full screen or to e-mail to a friend.

How 88-year-old Pearl Sipult survived a tornado that blew apart her house

Click here to see the video in full screen or to e-mail to a friend.

Spirit Aerosystems works around the clock to bring the plant back on line.

Click here to see the video in full screen or to e-mail to a friend.

Spirit AeroSystems: Everyone back to work by Monday

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How to help

Salvation Army: To donate by credit card, call 800-SAL-ARMY or go to www.salvationarmy.us. Checks may be mailed to The Salvation Army, 350 N. Market, Wichita, KS 67202. Donors may also text “Shelter” to 80888 to give $10. Please be sure to designate your gift “Kansas Tornadoes.”

American Red Cross: Visit www.redcross.org or call 800-RED-CROSS. Contributions may also be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

Catholic Charities: It will continue to receive walk-ins this week for those affected by the Oaklawn tornado. Clients will be seen at the South-side Food Pantry, 2825 S. Hillside, today through Friday, 9 a.m. until noon. After Friday, those needing assistance can call 316-264-8344 to schedule an appointment with a caseworker.

More information

SBA loans available

The U.S. Small Business Administration is making low-interest federal disaster loans available to homeowners and business owners affected by the April 14 tornado that hit Oaklawn and southeast Wichita.

Representatives will be available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays at 4900 S. Clifton.

Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace personal property that was damaged or destroyed.

— Sedgwick County leaders say they want Oaklawn to rebuild after an April 14 tornado tore up much of it, but they want to make sure people do so safely.

The county plans to issue stop-work orders at three houses because permits hadn’t been sought and structural engineers hadn’t inspected the properties. Workers at one of the properties had applied for a permit, but the property hadn’t been checked by an engineer.

Rebuilding “needs to be done in a right and safe way,” public safety director Bob Lamkey told commissioners Tuesday morning.

The county has marked 16 houses as unsafe to occupy. Nine were marked with red placards, which means no access to the property is allowed, and seven were marked with orange placards, where only limited access is allowed. On May 9, the county gave owners notice that they have 30 days to either demolish the property or begin repair work.

Of the houses, 14 are rental properties, one is in foreclosure and one is being purchased by the occupant in a rent-to-own situation, Lamkey said.

The houses appear to be structurally unsound, Lamkey said.

Repairs to any houses marked red or orange “are going to require a structural engineer to look at them to have permits pulled before repairs can begin.”

At one of the properties, workers were putting on a new roof; at another, they were installing new siding and windows; and at another, they were replacing a wall.

“We have no information that any competent engineering review was done on those houses,” Lamkey said. “Only one had applied for a permit, but none of them had the structural engineer release. We asked to put a stop-work notice on them.”

Houses marked red or orange have 30 days to start the permit process. At the end of 30 days, “absent any action,” Lamkey said, the county can demolish the property and bill the owner.

“If they start the permitting process, that’s a good thing. If they get ahold of their own insurance for demolition, that’s a good thing. If people ignore the process, county has the authority to demolish and then seek recompense from the owner.

“We really want people to move along with the process,” he said.

The county sent certified and first-class letters to property owners.

DeAnn Konkel, community liaison program manager for the county, said “a good number” of the homes in question are owned by the same people.

Property owners are beginning to receive settlements from their insurance agencies, Konkel said, and work is picking up in the area.

“I noticed a lot more construction going on yesterday than last week,” she said Tuesday.

Reach Deb Gruver at 316-268-6400 or dgruver@wichitaeagle.com.

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