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Eight Injured, Thousands Without Power After EF-3 Tornado Hits Eureka

Kansas Department of Transportation
A KDOT facility in Eureka was damaged by a tornado that hit on June 26, 2018

This story has been updated.

More than 2,000 residents in Eureka, Kansas, continued to be without power Wednesday night, a day after an EF-3 tornado hit, damaging more than 25 homes and businesses and injuring eight people.

The tornado struck the town, located about 60 miles east of Wichita, at about 7 p.m. Tuesday. Meteorologists at the National Weather Service estimate winds reached between 136 and 165 mph.

Westar crews have been working to restore electricity as quickly as possible, but damage to the power grid was substantial.

"We actually had a substation that was in the path of greatest destruction down there so there was a lot of work to be done," Westar spokeswoman Gina Penzig said.

Crews are expected to restore power to most of Eureka by Wednesday night, but areas with more extensive damage might not be back up until Saturday. Concern over an extended power outage has been made worse by the threat of excessive heat. Officials urged people without power, especially small children and the elderly, to take refuge somewhere with working air conditioning.

Emergency officials are asking those wanting to volunteer to help clean up to check in at the Matt Samuels Community Building located at 100 N. Jefferson in Eureka starting at 7 a.m. Thursday morning.

The American Red Cross has opened two shelters: one at the Methodist Church at 521 N. Main Street, and one at New Life Assembly of God at 1201 N. Main.

Tetanus shots are available at the county health department.

The damage to the town prompted Gov. Jeff Colyer to issue a disaster declaration.

Eureka was hit by another EF-3 tornado only two years ago. That storm damaged more than 140 buildings.

Brian Grimmett, based at KMUW in Wichita, is a reporter focusing on the environment and energy for the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio, KCUR and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. Follow him on Twitter @briangrimmett. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to the original post.

Deborah joined the news team at KMUW in September 2014 as a news reporter. She spent more than a dozen years working in news at both public and commercial radio and television stations in Ohio, West Virginia and Detroit, Michigan. Before relocating to Wichita in 2013, Deborah taught news and broadcasting classes at Tarrant County College in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area.
Brian Grimmett is a two-time Regional Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist covering energy and environment stories across the state of Kansas.