'We're ... well-versed in this tornado response game': Eureka's cleanup accelerates

Most residents of Eureka should have electricity restored by the end of the day Thursday, officials say — two days after a strong tornado slashed through the southeast Kansas town.

About 1,400 customers were still without power at midday Thursday, according to the Kansas Corporation Commission. That number had dropped to less than 500 by late in the afternoon, according to Westar Energy.

Westar was advising Eureka residents to check to see whether the square metal box and connecting pole on the side of their homes was damaged by the storm. An electrician will need to repair them before power can be restored.

The tornado touched down just after 7:15 p.m. Tuesday on the southwest corner of town and moved northeast through the center of Eureka before lifting at the opposite corner.

It was on the ground for about 2 miles, had peak winds of 152 mph and was 250 yards wide, according to the National Weather Service.

Eight people were hurt — one of them critically — and three of the injured were taken to Wichita for hospitalization, Greenwood County Emergency Management director Levi Vinson said.

The American Red Cross shelter remains open at the Methodist Church, 521 N. Main St., and it housed seven residents overnight, state officials said. The shelter is serving as a cooling station for residents and volunteers during the day.

All of Eureka's streets have reopened, Vinson said, except for where cleanup crews are removing piles of tree limbs and debris and where utility crews are working.

It's the second time in three years Eureka has been hit by a tornado.

"The silver lining to all this is, due to the previous incident, we learned from our mistakes," Vinson said. "We’re better prepared to handle this one.

"We’re getting well-versed in this tornado response game."

It was just one of three tornadoes that touched down in Kansas that night, according to the weather service, though the other two were short-lived twisters in rural Butler County.