Sightseers Unwelcome At Tornado-Damaged Areas

By: Parrish Alleman Email
By: Parrish Alleman Email

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Sedgwick County law enforcement and emergency management officials are asking anyone who does not need to go to areas hit by significant storm damage to steer clear of the areas. In particular, they would like people to stay out of the Oaklawn area and the Pinaire mobile home park.

Cleanup crews are doing their best to keep the roads clear so residents can drive through and bring in trailers. Still, homeowners have to carefully navigate around large piles of debris and heavily-damaged vehicles that line the streets. What's really slowing down the cleanup efforts is traffic from people who just want to look at the damage in person.

Dan and Doris Hale have managed Pinaire mobile home park for the last 14 years. The Hales and the other 152 homeowners in the park spent Monday sorting through what is left of their homes and loading up anything worth saving into trailers and trucks. The work is hard enough, but the Hales' son, Byron Gardner, says a steady stream of sightseers have made the difficult task nearly impossible.

"Gets to a point where they can't drive through anymore and it bottlenecks up. The people who belong here and are trying to salvage their belongings can't move." said Byron Gardner. "They've got to get in and out and it's very difficult with people driving in here just looking."

Gardner says he has his own way of trying to move the traffic along.

"People drive by, looking out their windows, so I knock on their window and say 'Are you here to help or are you here to look because we could sure use your help.' Nobody has accepted my offer yet. They just drive on." he said.

Although Dan Hale predicts months of cleanup still ahead, he is already looking towards the future when people can begin moving back.

"I'm hoping that's what's going to happen... there's several of them wanting to come back," said Hale.

If Pinaire mobile home park is rebuilt, Hale says he and his wife will be the managers once again.

Some people have come out to the areas damaged by storms because they want to help. If that's the case, emergency management says the best way to volunteer without adding to the traffic problem is to join the United Way's volunteer group. Volunteers can call 211 for more information.

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