Kansans assess damage after Mother's Day storms

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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MOUNT HOPE, Kan. -- Standing outside her home in Mount Hope, Sheila Hewitt stared at a huge tree limb that laid on her roof. She turned her head to the right and saw another tree limb had crushed part of the fence to her backyard.

Wind had caused the large tree at the side of their home to split in half and then topple over.

"It fell directly against the side of the house where our bedroom is at," Sheila Hewitt said. "We're glad it didn't come through the wall. It rested against it."

Hewitt, 26, and her husband had just moved into the house 12 days before. They left Hutchinson in search of a home they could grow into as they start a family.

It's not the kind of warm welcome to the neighborhood they had hoped for.

"It's kind of surreal," Hewitt said. "With how big it is, I'm just surprised it stopped at the roof."

Mount Hope was among the many Kansas communities that took a hard hit as high winds and large hail moved across Kakeland on Mother's Day.

About two miles down the road from Hewitt's home, every window on the west side of Rayle Elliot's home had been shattered. Glass littered the walkway up to his glass front door, the only piece of glass that did not break.

His wheat crop behind his home is essentially a total loss. He says it looks like someone took a lawnmower to it.

"There are several fields that are about a 90 percent loss around here," a surveyor in the area said.

Not far away in Valley Center, James Rotramel and his two brothers say their backyard shed is a total loss. It now has just one wall left.

"I stood by the door and saw everything start shaking," Rotramel said. "I'm just glad that we are O.K. and that the house is still here. I mean, it was pretty scary."

They say the wind tossed around heavy items in the backyard as if they were nothing. A several hundred-pound playground set had been lifted and thrown toward the back fence.

In addition to the damage to many homes, power lines across Kakeland also took a hit. People in McPherson and Stafford counties reported downed power poles and loss of electricity after the storm.

But nearly everyone in the affected areas, like Mount Hope's Sheila Hewitt, say they were actually feeling fortunate Monday as they assessed the damage.

"It could have been a whole lot worse," Hewitt said.

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