Pastors lead the way in Wichita tornado-relief effort

by Larry Thomas
KNCSB Director of Disaster Relief

On April 14-15, 2012, a total of 107 tornadoes touched down in Kansas and Nebraska. Ninety-seven tornadoes touched down in Kansas, and the Wichita area was the hardest hit.

The EF-3 tornado that tore through Oaklawn and southeast Wichita late Saturday night, April 14, caused an estimated $146.3 million in damage to residences and businesses, according to an assessment released by Sedgwick County officials.

The tornado was reported to be about a mile wide at its widest point and had maximum winds of 165 mph. It touched down at 10:21 p.m. Saturday, April 14, at about 79th Street 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.

At first light on Sunday, April 15, Jeff Thomson, disaster-relief coordinator for Central Baptist Association, conducted a windshield survey of the disaster area in Wichita. Lloyd Stuckey, disaster-relief coordinator for South Central Baptist Association, assessed damage west of I-35 and south of Wichita.

John Lucas of the KNCSB Disaster Relief leadership team conducted assessment surveys in central and north-central Kansas.

Along that path, the Wichita tornado damaged or destroyed 776 residences and 86 businesses. It 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. In the Pinaire Mobile Home Park, 92 mobile homes received more than 50 percent damage.

During the night of Saturday, April 14, Summit Church in Wichita was damaged extensively. However, church volunteers responded. They cleaned up and repaired most of the major damage before Sunday morning services on April 15.

Three pastors joined the teams and worked shoulder-to-shoulder with volunteers ensuring the success of the effort—Ray Emery (Midway Baptist, Wichita), Blake Orr (Central Baptist, Winfield), and Kenny Kelly (Hillside Baptist Church in Wellington).

Three Kansas-Nebraska association disaster-relief teams responded to assist victims of the disaster—Heart of Kansas, Central and South Central. These associations provided equipment and teams to assist in tree cutting and debris removal.

Joy Turner (Pleasantview Baptist, Derby), and Gordon and Viola Herb (Immanuel Baptist Church, Wichita) manned the help desk in the Oaklawn Community Center documenting requests for assistance and comforting victims. Bill Riley (Pleasantview Baptist, Derby) of the Kansas-Nebraska Disaster Relief leadership team established a jobs dispatching/operations site, and work began.

Elmo Brawley (Pleasantview Baptist, Derby) led the Heart of Kansas volunteer team, while Jeff Thomson (Cross Point, Hutchinson) led the Central Baptist team, and Lloyd Stuckey (Central Baptist, Winfield) led the South Central team.

The teams were supplemented by a rented John Deere skid steer with grapples and a bucket lift donated and operated by Ed Gifford (Trinity Baptist, Wamego).

Midway Baptist Church provided our daily pre-deployment meeting place and prepared to support out of area/state teams if called upon. Arkansas Baptists, Oklahoma Baptists, Missouri Baptists, and Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief organizations offered support.

Trees were removed from homes, yards were cleared of debris, blue tarps were applied to rooftops, and people were prayed for. A total of 147 volunteer days were credited to Kansas-Nebraska disaster relief volunteers. There were 13 contacts (Gospel presentations) and many people were prayed for, some twice. Praise God!

Thanks for your continued prayer for victims of the recent tornado outbreak and also for the Kansas-Nebraska volunteers who respond.

If you would like to volunteer with the Kansas-Nebraska disaster responders, please contact Larry Thomas at 316.204.7889. Send e-mail to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). You also may contact John Lucas at 785.554.9511, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or your association’s disaster-relief coordinator.

If you would like to donate to Kansas-Nebraska Disaster Relief, make your check out to KNCSB and write in “for Disaster Relief” in the memo area. Send your check to KNCSB, Attn. Disaster Relief, 5410 SW 7th St., Topeka, KS 66606.