EXCELSIOR SPRINGS, Mo. — Residents in Clay County spent Wednesday cleaning up after Tuesday's tornado carved a path of destruction through parts of Kearney and Excelsior Springs.
Around 8 p.m., an EF-2 tornado with 115-mph winds howled past Salvador Lopez's home near Northeast 144th Street and Cameron Road.
"I’ve been in a lot of wind and all that, but not like this," Lopez said.
According to the Clay County Sheriff's office, between 15 to 20 homes sustained damage and there also was significant tree damage.
The tornado unleashed its fury along a six-mile path.
Houses near 160th Street and Washington School Road in Excelsior Springs were among the hardest-hit, including the home where Larry and Kathy Wicks raised their children.
The family spent Wednesday salvaging what they can.
It's the second time the Wicks have gone through catastrophe cleanup. When the house burned in 2012 and now with the tornado, a closet in the basement was untouched.
"They were down here watching the news, watching for the storms, when the warning got lifted, went up to check and see that’s when everything went out," Nichole Goergen, the Wicks' daughter said. "The TV went out and they came straight down here and got crouched down in the closet for safety. It’s the perfect storm shelter, three concrete walls. It was my closet growing up."
The Wicks and their 9-year-old pug are safe and now the community is stepping up to help.
"Mom works in the community, so her work is here helping us," Goergen said. "We’ve got longtime friends that are here in the community helping us trying to go through it all. I mean, their stuff — walls down with stuff underneath that we got to get to, so thankfully people have just come through, and we’re trying to pack up what we can."
While much of the home is destroyed, the Wicks know all too well that material things can be replaced.
"It could’ve been a lot worse, so we’re just thankful for their health," Goergen said.
The Wicks are still trying to figure whether they'll rebuild in the same location again.
Meanwhile, the Clay County Public Services Office has established storm cleanup services for county residents who live in unincorporated areas of the county and do not qualify for city services.
The Clay County Highway Department will begin accepting vegetative (organic) debris — which includes shrubs, palm fronds, tree trimmings, grass, leaves, twigs or cut up branches — on Thursday.
Residents of unincorporated Clay County may drop off trees, brush, and leaves at the Highway Department, 16616 NE 116th St. in Kearney from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday. The Department also will accept items from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 3-6.
Additionally, the Clay County Highway Department will be available to pick up large vegetative debris from last night’s storms from residential property. Please call the Highway Department office at 816- 407-3300 for assistance.