Tornado rips through Kansas, causing severe damage and leaving more than 6,500 people without power

A Wichita, Kansas firefighter searches a home in Andover, Kansas, on Friday, April 29, 2022, after a tornado tore through the area just east of Wichita.Travis Heying/The Associated Press

A tornado that ripped through parts of Kansas destroyed or damaged dozens of homes and buildings, injured multiple people and left more than 6,500 people without power, authorities said Saturday.

Authorities said the tornado moved through portions of southeastern Wichita and Andover on Friday night. Andover Fire Chief Chad Russell said during a Saturday morning news conference that between 50 and 100 buildings were damaged in Sedgwick County, though it was not immediately known how many buildings were damaged in Andover.

Russell said that in some neighborhoods houses “were completely blown away.”

Authorities said only a few injuries had been reported. In Sedgwick County, three people were injured, including a woman who suffered serious injuries.

Crews have already completed a secondary search for houses in Andover. There are houses completely ripped off their foundations and entire neighborhoods leveled, but there were no serious injuries, Russell said.

City Hall was also damaged, hampering “some of our efforts,” Russell said. Other damaged buildings include the Dr. Jim Farha Andover YMCA and Prairie Creek Elementary School.

National Weather Service field crews worked Saturday to determine the extent and strength of the tornado, Meteorologist Kevin Darmofal said at the Wichita office.

Flor and Aldo Delgado said they prayed in the basement of their Andover home when a tornado passed right over them, destroying their home and cars.

The couple looked out the window on Friday night and saw the tornado beginning to form, so they headed to the basement.

“The lights started flickering and eventually went out, and within a minute the whole house started shaking and it was really loud. We started to feel the water hitting our faces and there was dust everywhere. It lasted what seemed like a minute that it was right on top of us,” Aldo Delgado said.

Flor Delgado said she could hear her house being vandalized as they prayed for her safety, the Wichita Eagle reported.

“The moment I realized there was absolutely nothing we could do. I knew my husband felt it too because he was calm and he comforted me, but at one point he just starts to lose his temper and cry. I could hear his voice crack as he prayed,” he said.

Once the tornado passed, the couple managed to get out of the rubble with only the clothes on their backs. His house, cars and personal items are gone.

“We didn’t even have our wedding rings on at the time,” Flor Delgado added.

Governor Laura Kelly declared a state of disaster emergency for the most affected areas. The declaration makes state resources available to assist local jurisdictions with response and recovery efforts in affected areas throughout the state.

In addition to the tornadoes, large hail was reported in several towns in the Plains. Baseball-sized hail was detected near Holbrook, Nebraska, and Enterprise, Kansas, according to the National Weather Service and storm watchers.

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