Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Wrecked by a F3
It was June 11, 2008. Storms had been in the area for the past several hours and severe thunderstorm warnings were everywhere. But in along the small highway know to the locals as "Old 40" there were tornado warnings everywhere. My good buddy Devin Hanney, who I have known since I was 6 years old, was on the radio watching the radar when he realized the storm had shifted. The tornado spotters were out on the road looking for signs of tornado activity but were not having any luck, which is good, or is it. Devin asks Billy Hanson, one of the spotters, where is he and which direction his he going? Billy is heading west on his way to Solomon along Old 40. Dev says, "Turn around, this storm is going the other way." It is on it's way to Abilene and Chapman and to head to I-70. He tells them this storm will not cross
I-70 and to head east.As the storm continues to head east it builds and and builds. Until 10:17 or so in the evening. At this point the tornado was on the ground heading toward my small town of 1250.
All area sirens are blaring and Miretta Lucas is on everyone's TV telling them to take cover. The local police are driving the streets getting the locals inside or telling them to go the District 473 Gym to take shelter in the locker rooms. Now many people believe Chapman is protected well from tornadoes and one will not hit the town. To the South is the Smokey Hill River, on the East side is Chapman Creek and to the West is the legendary Indian Hill. This hill has been an sacred place to many locals for hundreds of years.
Miretta continues to make announcements on the local emergency channel saying it will be here in 10 minutes!!!! She was wrong. It was there in less than 5. A second siren sounds which some people thought was the all clear. Rev. Trickle and his wife came up from the basement assuming it was over but they were wrong. This is what was left. Somehow they lived while the bricks were flying and the chimney was crashing only a few feet away from them.
The tornado was.just hitting town. The first home to go belonged to Mrs. Licardi. Her home was on the edge of the Smokey Hill River, that was suppose to protect Chapman. It's gone now
and nothing was left of the house but funny enough the Blazer in the garage never moved. You can see it if you look closely.
Everyone says it sounds like a train. My Dad says everyone was right. He was sitting at the table instead of being in the basement because he thought he had more time. When the power went out and he heard the rumbling and the house beginning to shake along with the windows on the second floor being sucked out he knew it was there.
He ran to the back porch that led to the basement and barely made it in when a ladder and tree limb slammed though a locked door. Grass, dirt and glass was shattering all around him as he headed to safety. It was 10:22 when it hit and it was gone by 10:24. It moved through town going about 55 miles per hour (mph)or 100km/h. It was approximately a quarter mile wide or half kilometer for my Euro readers and was rated at a F3 with 156 mph or 200km. That's a big fast moving storm. It whipped out everything in it's path and there is nothing that is going to stop it.
Now I can go on and on with stories but nothing will show the devastation or explain what happened besides the pictures my Dad took outside his house and of the leveled homes. 60-70% of the town was damaged and about 100 homes were severely damaged or completely destroyed. I was very upset hearing the sad news about my town being hit. I arrived and it was very difficult for me to see what happened. My home as I know it is gone and will never be the same. NEVER!!!
One thing I can say is this town is filled full of amazing people. Everyone has really come together to help one another. They have come together in true Kansas form. There was lots food donated to the American Legion and meals were provided day and night for those effected by the storm. So much was happening when I was in town. People were getting back to their normal lives by heading to work and cleaning up. The schools were drilled. All 3, Elm, Middle and High are in no shape to have students. They are currently rebuilding as I type. Good Luck, Chapman!!!