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Linwood residents emerge from shelter to find homes destroyed

Posted: 11:41 AM, May 29, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-31 22:39:05Z
Linwood Tornado Damage
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LINWOOD, Kan. — A day after a violent EF-4 tornado ripped through parts of Linwood, Kansas, residents were picking up the pieces, grateful no one was seriously injured or killed.

41 Action News spoke with homeowners along Kansas 32, who were beginning the long cleanup process after Tuesday night’s storms.

Susan Leavy’s home was one of dozens that suffered significant damage from the tornado.

“It was just 'boom,'" she said. "I said 'OK, a tree fell on the house.' We walk around a few steps, then we are standing on the steps and we see daylight. There is no roof on your house."

Homes in Linwood were at the mercy of violent winds peaking at 170 miles per hour. On Wednesday, some homes could be seen with roofs missing, while others were completely flattened.

Another Linwood resident, Fran Jones, lost everything in her home after the tornado ripped through the town of about 400 people.

“Had my dog with me. God was with us, that is all I can say,” Jones said.

Jones and her husband hid in the basement minutes before the tornado hit.

While digging through the remains of her home on Wednesday, she found a bell that her mother used when she was a child. When she found the memento amid the massive debris, she was in tears.

“It makes me really happy. Sad, but happy," Jones said. "That is all I can tell you."

Despite the apparent devastation throughout the small town, residents said they were grateful that no lives were lost.

"Deep in your gut it is sadness, then you go, I am OK, my husband of 50 years is OK," Leavy said. "Then you go we are blessed. It is alright.”

The National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill on Wednesday released a preliminary damage survey for the tornado, an EF-4 with winds that peaked at 170 mph.

LISTEN: Kansas City shows resiliency after devastating tornadoes

The mile-wide tornado touched down around 6:05 p.m. about 12 1/2 miles west-northwest of Baldwin City and traveled nearly 32 miles in 55 minutes before lifting 1 1/2 miles west of Bonner Springs around 7 p.m.

According to the Enhanced Fujita Scale for tornado classification, an EF-4 has violent winds from 166 to 200 mph.

According to the National Weather Service, "the storm produced EF-3 damage in northeastern Douglas County, gaining strength in the river bottoms, and then produced EF-4 damage in southern Leavenworth County."

It is the strongest tornado to hit the Kansas City metro in more than 16 years.

The last time an EF-4 struck near Kansas City was May 4, 2003.