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Remembering the Haysville-Wichita tornado

It’s been 12 years now since an EF4 tornado cut the heart out of Haysville’s business district and then slashed south Wichita.

It was on the ground for 14 miles and grew to a half-mile in width, killing 6, injuring 150 and causing an estimated $140 million in damage.

I received an award from ARC that night, then went to a house-warming party for a friend in south Wichita. The house was almost directly north of the tornado’s initial track, so I could tell we were in trouble. There was no basement, and with hail as large as baseballs falling outside, I didn’t want them running down the street with their young children in tow, trying to find a house with one.

We were pulling mattresses off of beds for shelter and herding people into a ground-floor bathroom and an inner bedroom as the tornado approached. But then it veered to the right as it approached I-235, and we were spared.

When things calmed down, I headed into the office. There was work to do.

And, within a few days, Kathleen and Marty knew who had a basement on their street.