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March 13, 1990, 5:42 p.m., Scrapbook: Coordinator's Report
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March 13, 1990, 5:42 p.m., Scrapbook: Coordinator's Report

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Report written by Evelyn Rouner, Tornado Coordinator of the Hesston Ministerial Alliance. The scrapbook consists of five sections:
1 - The Happening
2 - The Helping Response
3 - People Coping
4 - Sharing Stories
5 - Dream on Hesston and Appendix


Rouner, Evelyn I.


Hesston Public Library




Used with permission.

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Hesston, Kan.

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March 13, 1990, 5:42 p.m.
Kansans dig out from tornadoes’ onslaught
By Alan Montgomery
The Hutchinson News
HESSTON — Like ants swarming over a kicked-apart ant hill, Hesston residents Wednesday worked their way through the blasted rubble of their homes, sifting the debris for personal items, in the wake of Tuesday’s monster tornado.
Elsewhere, two people died after being crushed by storm-tossed
Authorities said Lucas Fischer,
6, was crushed by a fireplace and chimney that fell through a floor into the basement where he and his family were huddled against the storm near Burrton. Ruth Voth, 68, was killed when her home east of Goessel was destroyed.
Sixteen Hesston residents were injured, but only four required hospitalization. Several others were reported injured in other areas. None of the injuries was thought to be life-threatening.
The twister ripped a 200-yardwide swath across the city, entering town at the midpoint of its west side, where it heavily dam-
aged a Mennonite Brethren Church seconds before it obliterated the entire Erb Street cul-de--
sac neighborhood of eight late-model homes.
At the same time, it demolished
a 10-unit, condominium-style apartment complex on nearby Roupp Street, along with three more new homes on the Roupp
In a short time, some say less than two minutes, the tornado had traversed the town, on a northeasterly course, destroying 50 residences, a lumber yard, a concrete plant, grain bins, numerous automobiles and trucks, a business complex, a veterinary clinic, a Pizza Hut restaurant and a truck stop, while damaging dozens of other homes and businesses to varying degrees. '
Early warnings of the oncoming storm was named as the main reason for the prevention of serious injuries and death.
The disaster brought out the best in people, as friends, relatives and total strangers teamed
to help those who lost their homes. Dillon Stores of Newton gave the Salvation Army an open invitation to get all the food it needed, at no charge, to aid the storm victims. Drubber’s Daylight Donuts, of Newton, opened early Wednesday to make a donuts to send with the Salvation Army to Hesston.
While telephone service was out, emergency communications were bolstered by Newton Amateur Radio Club members, who brought powerful radio gear and generators to the command center at the Hesston Fire Department to help field the flood of j incoming inquiries about local residents and property.
The American Red Cross set up a disaster shelter at Hesston High School, with 120 cots and blankets, where more than 100 people came Tuesday to rest and receive food from the Salvation Army. By nightfall, all but a few had found shelter in private homes in the area.
About 100 students from Hesston Community College joined volunteers Wednesday who were helping residents dig through the debris for clothing and other personal effects.
“It’s terrible, just terrible,” said Aiko Hirai, a freshman from Japan, as she shivered in the frigid north wind. “It is the first big natural disaster for me. ... I didn’t see it (the tornado). I stayed in the basement in the dorm.”
Ms. Hirai and about a dozen other students were helping the Marilyn and Eric Henderson family search for their belongings amid the wreckage of their rented, ranch-style home on the Roupp cul-de-sac. Only the basement and flooring was left; the house was gone.
When the tornado hit Tuesday, Mrs. Henderson was at the college, where she works as a cook; her husband was at home with their three sons: Nathan, 11 Ethan, 7, and Joel, 6. As the storm neared, Eric took the boys to the basement.
“We had plaster coming down on our heads,” Nathan said Wednesday. "We heard the house go off. It sounded like ... a mix between a freight train and a Honda motorcycle.”
As he talked, a student came over and handed Mrs. Henderson a handful of wet, mud-spattered color photographs of children. "Here’s more pictures,” the smiling coed said.
Mrs. Henderson thanked her, then confided to a reporter that she had no idea whose photographs they were, although they were mixed into the wreckage of her home.
“I just hope somebody else is picking up my pictures,” she said. "That’s the one thing I feel really bad about."
When asked if he lost anything he treasured, Nathan said, “I’m going to miss the car.” He pointed off to one side of a rubble heap, where a late-model Oldsmobile Omega sat, demolished, its windows shattered and its body smashed and mud-packed.
Mrs. Henderson said she was thankful that their home had a basement and that she “still had a family" when she rushed home from work after the storm.
According to residents in the destroyed areas, basements meant the difference between life and death.
Judy DeWitt, 28, huddled under a basement stairway Tuesday with her 10-year-old daughter, Jennifer, as the tornado bore down on their home in the Erb Street cul-de-sac.
“We pulled a mat over us,” Mrs. DeWitt said. “The lights went out, we covered up and that’s about that last I remember.
I just remember hanging onto my daughter.”
The tornado exploded their home over their heads, scrambled the contents of the basement and dumped into it bushels of milo stocks, dirt and mud that had been gouged from a field just west of town.
Then everything was quiet. Mrs. DeWitt checked her daughter; Jennifer thought she had a broken leg. But after pushing aside some debris, they found she had suffered only bruises and a cut. Mrs. DeWitt emerged with a few bruises.
Across the street west of the DeWitt’s were the remains of the home of Ruth Gamber, a registered nurse. Ms. Gamber and 21-year-old Veronica Lima — a cultural exchange student from Brazil who is staying with her — fled to their basement Tuesday as the tornado neared.
With a crash, the twister ripped the house away, leaving the two women in the basement amid water and silence.
“We had to crawl out through rubble that was blocking the stairway,” Mrs. Gamber said. She and Ms. Lima spent much of the day Wednesday pulling articles of their clothing and personal effects from the debris.
* * *
Authorities have taken great pains to insure that there is no looting in the tornado-damaged areas of Hesston.
Late Tuesday, a convoy of Kansas Army National Guard troops arrived, comprising Delta Company of the 1st Infantry Battalion, 137th Infantry, which has units at Newton and Wichita.
The soldiers were clad in full battle dress uniforms, complete with camouflage coloring, field packs, helmets and radios. Each soldier also carried a three-foot-long billy club. The troops were there to provide a presence that would discourage looting, one soldier said.
All access roads to Hesston, including I-135 exit ramps, were barricaded Tuesday and Wednesday and manned by Kansas Highway Patrol troopers and guardsmen.
No sight-seers were allowed into the city; only emergency workers, property owners, news media and others who had business in the disaster area were allowed to enter.
Even with those restrictions, there were occasional traffic snares in residential areas as volunteers parked their cars on both sides of the streets and twoway traffic attempted to flow through the neighborhoods.
Karen Scott/The Hutchinson News
out in force
By Tom Schaefer_________________
The Wichita Eagle
HESSTON — A gray morning and a biting wind greeted Milton Miller as he stood on his front porch Wednesday. He tugged at his wind-breaker and prepared to enter.
The roof of his three-bedroom, brick-and-frame house was gone. Windows were blown out Yellow fiberglass insulation dangled from exposed walls. Like spring dandelions, splintered bits of wood dotted what was once a well-kept yard.
What was left of a 10-speed bicycle rested on his front lawn. He didn’t know whose it was, and didn’t really care.
He worried about his wife, Lorraine, 69, who was in a Newton hospital for observation. They had hidden from Tuesday’s tornado in their basement and she was still shaken, he said.
“You don’t know where to start with something like this,” said Miller, 67, as he walked through the doorway.
Miller, one of hundreds of townspeople trying to recover from Tuesday’s destruction, went to each room, pausing to pick up a broken picture frame, a gold golf putter and other keepsakes.
He spoke softly, as he viewed the extent of the damage.
"My kids made this clock for our 45th anniversary,” he said, pointing at a 2-year-old grandfather clock on the dining room floor, its glass shattered and its cherry wood cabinet scarred by deep scratches.
A shelf nearby displayed several antique cups and saucers, neatly balanced and unscathed. Miller gently clutched a collection of family photos, some stained by rain.
“I don’t know what we’ll do,” he said, fighting back tears. “I’ve never felt so hopeless in all my life.”
For now, he and his wife will stay with their daughter in the south part of town.
Record Photo/BOB LATTA
Humor and determination are reflected in sign about a family picnic.
Mike Hutmacher/The Wichita Eagle
Nancy Roupp salvages cartons of eggs — unbroken_________________from
“We had it all lined up when we built our house and the business. If
The Newton Kansan, Wednesday, March 14, 1990 7
By Jeanette Jackson
Kansan staff writer
HESSTON — Stunned by the devastation left in the wake of a tornado which swept through Hesston Tuesday, residents and local agencies geared up this morning to clean up the aftermath.
At midmorning, cleanup operations were being coordinated from a command post set up in the Hesston Municipal Building.
An estimated 75 to 100 homes were damaged as the tornado moved from southwest section of Hesston around Erb Drive exiting across Lincoln Boulevard and I-135, according to Jay Wieland, city administrator.
The tornado cut a block- to 1 1/2-block-wide corridor across the community. Seventeen people were treated at Newton Medical Center.
“That was a mixture of those transported from here and walk-ins,” Wieland said.
Only one person required extrication from the wreckage of a truck stop, Sav-A-Trip, just off Exit 40 from I-135 on the northeast side of the city. Wieland said the unidentified woman had been pinned under the debris after the building was destroyed by the tornado. Police said the woman was from Oklahoma and had stopped for fuel just before the storm hit.
The City of Hesston remains cordoned off today as the Highway Patrol and members of the First Battalion of the National Guard from Wichita manned roadblocks at the edge of the city. Traffic into the city was restricted to residents and cleanup efforts.
This morning, search teams were making a last walkthrough of the devastated area “to make sure no one is trapped in the wreckage of their homes,” Wieland said. Search teams were composed of a firemen, an emergency technician and a related field person.
“As far as we know, all of our people are accounted for; no one is reported as missing,” Wieland said.
He said the twister struck at 5:35 p.m. and lasted only 2.5 minutes.
Emergency shelter was set up in the Hesston High School, but less than 50 people reportedly spent the night there. About 300 cots had been set up earlier. Most of the homeless were taken in by family, friends or relatives, Wieland said.
Wieland said the first warning sirens sounded shortly after 5 p.m. from the Harvey County Communications Center in Newton. He said the sirens were tripped again about seven or so minutes later before being silenced by the tornado’s destruction of electrical power lines servicing the city.
“The center down there did a fantastic job. All things considered, I believe the early warning is the reason we had so few injuries here,” Wieland related. “I’m very pleased with the way the system functioned.”
The Kansas Highway Patrol arrived shortly after the storm hit to assist the Hesston Police Department’s three-man staff.
“We’ve had a lot of help, not only from Harvey County, but other people,” he said.
Wieland said Harvey County crews were already on the scene this morning with heavy equipment to move and haul debris. He was expecting crews from the City of Newton to arrive by mid-morning to assist with cleanup work.
The Mennonite Disaster Service was mobilizing to help too, he said.
Kansas Gas and Electric crews had restored some elec-
Assessment Team had arrived in Hesston and is expected to make a report later today.
The Salvation Army had units from Wichita, Hutchinson and Newton on the scene with a canteen set up near the command post.
Rural areas southwest and northeast of Hesston also were pounded by the tornado. Harvey County Sheriff’s Department investigator Byron Motter said that in a search of two sections toward the south, officers had found at least four homes and out-buildings destroyed.
Re-creating dreams begins with basics
18, 1990
“We were all just popping up like groundhogs and we looked at each other and there was nothing. I don’t know if you can ever
describe the feelings you think at a time like that” Twila Good
By Dan Close ___________________________
The Wichita Eagle
HESSTON — Twila Good clenched her eyes tight like a little kid trying to make a monster go away.
The nightmare twister kept coming, bearing down on the basement where she huddled against her husband and youngest son, drowning out her screams of terror.
It seemed as if their world was coming apart. The roof sailed off, and second-story rafters crashed through the floors. A chunk of a two-by-four speared the wall above their heads. An invisible hand of pressurized air lifted the walls about them and forced their backs to the floor.
Then came the blessed calm. Daylight
poked through the debris. Hesston’s monster tornado had claimed the new home that they had built with their own hands. Somehow it had spared their lives. But what different lives they were left to lead.
“When we came out, there was just nothing left,” said Twila, who days later remained dazed by the memory. “We climbed out over a 4-foot-deep pile of debris. The neighbors came out of their basements. We were all just popping up like groundhogs and we looked at each other and there was nothing.
“I don’t know if you can ever describe the feelings you think at a time like that It was, ‘What do we do? Where do we start?
Isn’t someone going to tell us what to do now?’ ”
Hundreds of newly homeless people all over this mostly Mennonite community of 3,013 were wondering the same thing. Their confusion gave way to panic. Panic gave way to anger. Anger became tears. Tears have turned to determination to rebuild lives torn apart by last Tuesday’s tornado.
The Goods, like other families, are starting from scratch.
Forgotten for the time being are their jobs. Bob, 39, gray-bearded and as quiet-spoken as a mountain man, is stockroom
receiving supervisor at Hay and Forage Industries in Hesston. His wife, Twila, 34 — more bubbly than her husband — owns The Mixing Bowl bakery in town. They figure it will be later this week before they go back to work.
Forgotten for the time being is school. Rob, 17, a junior at Hesston High School, was on a class trip in Topeka when the I storm struck. Matt, 14, is an eighth-grader at Hesston Middle School. They’ll be back in class Wednesday.
Meanwhile, most of the comfortable routines of normal family life have been shattered. The Goods are down to the basics: sleeping on borrowed beds in a house they once rented from friends; driving pickups loaned by his company; wearing clothes donated by neighbors and strangers; eating free meals at the relief center or at the homes of friends; and relying on the $2,000 in emergency money provided by their State Farm agent
On the most basic levels, life has become almost surrealistically simple. But in other ways, things have become infinitely more complex.
There have been meetings with insurance adjustors to tackle paperwork needed to get reimbursement for their house, three cars and belongings; a meeting with a contractor to lay the groundwork for rebuilding their home; efforts to find a second building estimate to satisfy the insurance company.
They had to arrange with the bank to replace their checkbook; arrange to travel to Wichita to replace Bob’s contact lenses and Rob’s glasses; arrange to rent a two-bedroom apartment to move into this week.
There was furniture to rent House plans to draw. A car or truck to buy. A visit to the Red Cross center to ask about state or federal disaster aid. Hours spent just trying to inventory the thousands of missing things scattered to the four winds.
“There are dozens of things that you suddenly have to worry about that you never worried about before,” Twila said. "We’re doing it day by day. We sat down last night and made a list of what we needed to do. We’ll probably sit down again tonight and make another list of what we’re going to do tomorrow. And we’re going to keep making lists until we get it all taken care of.”
Somehow, they know they will get it done. Dozens of friends and strangers have come to help. Family members have driven in from distant states to lend moral support. And their heritage is helping to give them strength.
“Hesston is a Mennonite community and I think that definitely has an influence in how we approach problems,” Bob said. The family attends Hesston Mennonite Church. "We take them straight on, try not to complain.”
That was sometimes tough to remember in the days of mourning which followed the tornado.
days of cleaning up after the tornado, Bob Good, left, and his son Rob stand at the foundation of the house they will rebuild.
Dave Williams/The Wichita Eagle
"When a friend took us away from our house that first evening to give us a place to stay, I did think, ‘Oh, my pretty house is gone,’” Twila said. “But losing the house wasn’t the problem. It was the Christmas gifts from the boys, the family pictures, the little trinkets that meant something to us. It was those kinds of things that we miss and that are gone forever. I know we’ll build the house again. But how do you replace memories?”
Bob and Twila were bom 50 miles apart from each other in Ohio — she in West Liberty, he in Elida — but they didn’t meet until Twila attended Hesston College. Bob has lived in Hesston since he was 5.
They married in 1971. Bought a house. Sold it Rented for two years. Then, last November, moved into their dream home.
They had devoted almost two years to planning and building the place with help from handy friends and a few specialty contractors. Bob, whose hobby is woodworking, had done much of the carpentry. Twila was taking care of much of the finish work.
The tornado also wiped out the home of Bob’s parents, Lowell and Lena Good, who lived a block to the west, and blew away a shop full of tools earmarked for Lowell’s use in retirement
There was nothing left to do but begin the cleanup.
For the first couple of days, the Goods and their friends spent almost every waking hour salvaging what they could at 99 Roupp, the address they once called home, where the cracked tree limbs now clawed the empty sky.
They didn’t find much in the muddy mess. A television they were afraid to plug in. Boxes of children’s toys and games. Green bath rugs. Clothes, some of which were even theirs. Old yearbooks. Halloween decorations. A couple of belt buckles, all that remained of Bob’s huge collection. The oak library table that belonged to Twila’s
grandmother, scarred by the twister’s scouring 250-mph winds.
Valuables were hauled off to a friend’s garage to be cleaned and sorted. “We’re not going to keep anything that’s not sentimental,” Twila said. “I’m not feeling very ‘savey’ today.”
The junk pile left behind at their former house — all the carefully chosen wallpaper and light fixtures and paneling — was headed for funeral pyres at the city dump.
Bob took the controls of a bulldozer loaned by his company, pushing over shaky walls and dumping the splintered remains into trucks. Twila pitched in wherever she was needed. Rob and Matt, assisted by more than a dozen buddies, shoveled out debris from the basement.
“The worst pan was having to go in and finish killing the house after the storm had knocked it down,” Matt said. “That was hard.”
He had been upstairs reading a schoolbook, “Escape From Warsaw,” before the tornado wrote its own horror story. “I’m hoping I can forget it, but I know I'll never, ever underestimate the power of a tornado. That part will stay with me.”
Digging through the wreckage, the simplest finds brought the biggest smiles. Twila came across her “Bless this House” plaque, which had been nailed above the stairs leading to the basement She carried in her coat a damp black-and-white snapshot of Bob as a high school senior. And she scurried over to show Bob the shattered remains of a coffee cup: “On the inside it used to say ‘Love will keep us together,’” she explained.
Linda Garrett, a bakery worker, stopped by to commiserate with her boss. For several minutes the tragedy was leavened by laughter and jokes. But then the talk turned to replacing the irreplaceable. The pair grew somber.
“These insurance people come around and they’re nice and friendly and helpful and all, but all they’re going away with is the cold, hard numbers,” Garrett said, tears welling. “How can you put a price tag on the baby bed of your first-born? How do you put a value on the scratches and the teeth marks?”
Twila began to cry, too, and the women hugged. “I don’t know,” Twila said. “I just don’t know.”
By sundown on Thursday, there was nothing left to look at but an empty concrete hull. It was an ending. And a beginning. The next few days would be just as busy.
“Just knowing that we’ve already made the decision to rebuild, that we’ll be talking to a builder soon, that’s the most important thing we’ve decided,” Twila said. “Someone said that by fall we could be in a new house. No, I can’t realize that yet I can’t think that far ahead yet”
On Friday, Bob stopped by the office of Bruce Ediger, a local contractor and casual friend, to talk about adding his name to a list of those who were going to need help.
“I’m just here to talk a little bit about rebuilding,” Bob told Ediger after the men shook hands. “I’m interested in having you do something for us. The insurance people have told me they’ll take care of it, they'll cover us for the replacement cost, but I need to see what we need to get started.”
Ediger, wearied by a stream of new customers, said the first step was to put together new plans. “The sooner I know what I need to line up, the better off you can be. Some of it will depend on whether your foundation can be saved. We’ll have to figure that out”
Ediger said it would be tough to find qualified help and decent supplies.
“We’re making a list of contacts,” he said. “I suppose the first priority will be people who lost part of a wall that’s exposed them to the elements, getting them squared away. Then we can start thinking about getting some of the all-new houses built, like Bob’s.”
The Goods had decided early they were going to let someone else rebuild.
“How do you go back and make all those decisions all over again?” Twila asked. “They were so hard the first time. Now we have to do them again. Our hearts were in this house and our lives were in this house.”
That feeling of helplessness was felt by those who were not even there when it happened. Rob made it home from Topeka the morning after the twister and was stunned by the devastation.
“I had no idea where to start I felt almost worthless,” he said. "I’ll probably remember this the rest of my life. One of my friends told me, ‘At least you’ve got a story you can tell your grandchildren.’ ’’
He thought of the $150 worth of baseball cards and money stashed in birthday cards that had vanished. “It’s going to be weird starting life all over again. I don’t know how that’s going to be.”
The Goods won’t have to do it alone.
Two nights after the tornado, the Goods
and other friends gathered in the home of Dave and Phyllis Rhodes for a buffet supper. A friend prayed for them and the others caught in the disaster.
"God, thank you for this community and the way you have moved among us,” said Jim Mininger, dean of Hesston College. “Continue to be with us in the days ahead as the reality of what has happened to our friends and community begins to sink in.”
Prayer has helped. Humor has too.
Kirk Alliman, president of Hesston College, asked the Goods whether they would build the same kind of house. There was a pause while Bob and Twila stirred their food.
“I don’t know,” Twila finally managed to joke. “The first one didn’t stand up too good, did it?”
Everyone laughed.
The next afternoon, waiting in the high school gymnasium to talk to Red Cross officials, Bob said the family felt optimistic.
“We’ve had some good talks with the boys. They’ve talked about their fears and frustrations. I think we’re coming back to an even keel. Every day we’ve had since it happened, our mood and the mood of the community is just a little bit more improved.”
But the memories will always be there.
At Thanksgiving, when they carve the turkey in their new home. When they dust off some trinket rescued from the rubble. Every time they haul out the scrapbook and gaze at a snapshot saved from the tornado’s grasp.
Every time they see the storm clouds
Twila and Bob Good try to describe their house to Vern Augustine, a State Farm adjustor.
Neighbors turn out to help a family blessed with life
By Anne Fitzgerald________________
The Wichita Eagle
GOESSEL — The Schmidt boys and their hired hand were just finishing the second milking of the day when the tornado hit
The country radio station playing in the milk barn had warned them that the storm was headed for Hes-ston.
By the time they had only one cow left to milk, it was just across the field. Jim Schmidt, 33, and the hired hand, Roger Campbell, headed for the basement of Schmidt’s house, where his wife, Diana, 31, their two young children, 5 and 8, and the family pets were cowering from the growing roar outside. She had grabbed the wedding album and baby books.
His elder brother Fred, 42, watched from a nearby machine shed until the tornado began to blast a neighbor’s bam apart Then he, too, ran for the basement in the farmhouse, two miles south of Goes-sel.
The ugly cloud didn’t stop or skip over the farmstead, as it had inexplicably in countless other cases.
It ran smack-dab into the Schmidt place, accelerator pushed through the floor, clobbering the old, two-story farmhouse and obliterating most of the outbuildings.
When the noise died down, the Schmidts went above ground, thankful no one had been hurt
Though badly battered, the house was standing And nearby, a couple of concrete silos and the small, cement-block milk bam, with eight automated milking stalls, were intact
But that was about all.
The metal machine shed was twisted apart The main garage was gone, the family station wagon smashed. Two silos had vanished.
And worst of all, the dairy bam, where most of the Schmidts’ 100-head herd of Holsteins had been left to brave the storm, was leveled. Heavy pipe and metal sheeting had crashed down on the cows, the Schmidts’ lifeline.
Miraculously, though, most of the animals were all right as were all but one of the heifers housed in a
separate shed that had been destroyed.
And 11 calves nearby were fine, although nothing remained of their pens, nothing but beds of straw.
“How all those cows lived, I don’t know,” said Randy Hardey, a volunteer firefighter and one of the first people on the scene after the storm March 13. “They were just standing there waiting for us to cut them out"
Within minutes of the storm’s passing neighbors and townspeople were at the farm, firing up blowtorches and chainsaws to free the cows.
Several animals had serious cuts. But as far as the Schmidts could tell, they had lost only the one.
They had, indeed, been blessed with life.
But their farm was in mins, and with it their livelihood.
The next morning they tried to milk the cows but gave up, shipping them instead to friends’ farms.
And as more than 100 volunteers, both friends and strangers, combed the property trying to clean it up — a telling scene played out throughout the countryside — the Schmidts stood by in shock, happy to be alive but unsure about what lay ahead.
Early in the day, Al Schmidt, the Schmidt boys’ uncle, stood alone surveying the fallen bam. Tears welling in his eyes, he struggled for something to say.
His brother Rudy, the boys’ father, was on the road as a Mennonite volunteer and had not yet seen the place where they had grown up.
As is the custom in this heavily
Mennonite community an hour north of Wichita, people turned out in droves to help the Schmidts.
From early morning until dark on Wednesday, March 14, volunteers sorted, stacked, cut and hauled away the rubble. They also cleaned up the main farmhouse, which had been littered with broken glass and family possessions. Local women provided food for lunch.
The workers included students from Bethel and Tabor colleges and other schools, as well as members of the Mennonite Disaster Service.
The Schmidt farm, a Grade-A dairy for 57 years, has been in the family for three generations.
Jim and Fred assumed the operation where their father and his father left off. Jim lives at the old farmhouse; Fred and his wife, Jo-Ann, live with two of their three children in a house their father built to the north.
People in town know the Schmidts as hard-working farmers who have taken risks and prospered.
A few years ago, they gave up raising their own crops and sold most of their equipment, hiring someone to plant and harvest the hay and grains they feed the cattle. So far, they said, it had paid off.
Just last week, they won an award from the Dairy Herd Improvement Association for third-most-productive dairy operation in Kansas during 1989.
They’re not sure whether they will build their dairy back.
Build back or not, it was clear to see that their friends and family will support them.
Throughout the day, friends and neighbors arrived bringing food, tools and sympathy.
Cyril Brown, the veterinarian treating the Schmidts’ cattle, stopped by to give them an update, telling the young farmers to take their time deciding what to do.
“I guess it’d be pretty hard, wouldn’t it?” asked Dennis Schroeder, manager of the local coop. "Those are two boys that took over the farm from their father. They’ve worked hard and they’ve prospered.
“Now it’s just all in the sky.”
The ugly cloud ran smack-dab into the Schmidt place, accelerator pushed through the floor, clobbering the old, two-story farmhouse and obliterating most of the outbuildings.
Dave Williams/The Wichita Eagle
Marge Peachey holds her dog as she walks away from the rubble of her house in Hesston with her neighbor, Joan Stehman. Thirty-five homes in Hesston were destroyed and 51 sustained significant structural damage, authorities said.
United effort needed for business recovery
The Hesston Record, Thursday, March 22, 1990,
“United we will conquer; divided we will fall. We can’t all be pulling in 50 directions.”
Such was the assessment — and what seemed to be the sentiment -Tuesday night in a meeting of members of the Hesston business community, who, after the March 13 tornado here, arc faced with a
room at the Colonial House Tuesday night to discuss nothing less than the future of the business sector in light of last week’s devastating storm which damaged or destroyed a number of businesses.
Without businesses, there is no community, some said.
“This is a chance for business owners and managers to get together to discuss the future,” said Bricklcy. “I don’t want to get six months, a year, two years down the road, look back and say, ‘Gee, there were some opportunities that we could have taken advantage of to make Hesston an even better community, and we didn’t do it,”’ said Brickley.
Representatives of city, county and state government were present to discuss resources that might be available to help storm victims get back in business.
Bart Finney, director of the Roe R. Cross Institute for Business and Economic Development at Emporia State University, who has worked with community leaders in the past year on business development, told the audience that there two ways to access federal emergency aid.
First, said Finney, President George Bush could declare it a disaster area.
Second, Gov. (Mike) Hayden can request federal assistance.
It was believed, that this second avenue would be forthcoming this week, possibly as early as Wednesday.
If that does happen, Finney warned that it could take up to 90 days to access federal aid, and than another couple of weeks to actually get a check in hand.
In the meantime, Finney said, what is needed is temporary emergency aid.
massive job of rebuilding and repairing — and possibly relocating.
In a meeting organized by Hesston pharmacist Ross Brickley, more than 100 persons representing various local business interests jammed into the upstairs dining
Martha Walker, director of the Harvey County Jobs Development program, told the group that her job is to help get businesses started and to help put together Financing to do that.
“We’re the technicians, the nuts and bolts guys,” said Walker.
“Our office can help you identify your losses and discuss what it will take to get you back in business.”
Walker continued: “You folks have been through a lot. We’ll help you every way we can to get the numbers together and cut red tape.”
Carol Birch of the department of commerce told the audience: “We’re here to listen to you. The city and county can apply for certain types of funding. It is important for you to think about a mix -blending money from various sources.”
Brickley noted that there were all sorts of rumors going around about who planned to rebuild and who wouldn’t.
He indicated that it was hoped that everyone who wanted to would be able to bounce back, but that there were gaps in financial ability of some to do that.
Added Finney: “We’re trying to turn lemons into lemonade. Now is the time to think about how businesses can complement each other (as far as location is concerned).
He urged those present to think in terms of how they want the community to appear in the future, to think of ideal locations.
He indicated that there were things that could be done in regard to zoning and establishing such things as enterprise zones and business improvement districts that could help accomplish development goals.
Paul Roupp, longtime builder and owner of some apartments on the west side of town which were destroyed noted:
“11 this storm had happened Dec. 31, you’d have been in good shape. But if your property was here on Jan. 1, you will be taxed for the whole year.
“I’m going to have to pay $10,000 in taxes and not have a dime coming in (from the property). I think there should be (tax) concessions for victims of a disaster.”
Tom Sawin is owner of some apartments that were located on the north edge of downtown. The apartments were destroyed.
“The community has lost 30-40 apartment dwellings,” Sawin said. “Docs the city want that to be replaced? What can we do?”
Duane Graber, who is overseeing the emergency housing phase of the local relief effort, noted that a number of persons have been left homeless because of apartments being destroyed.
“Ninety per cent of them want to remain in Hesston, but they are afraid apartment housing won’t be available.”
Reaction to Sawin’s question about whether apartment housing would be welcome was swift. The sentiment was that there is a role for such housing, and that it definitely would be welcome to return.
City administrator Jay Wieland noted that housing was tight before the tornado, and that it would be worse now.
“But there are opportunities in various areas, based on current zoning, to develop such housing in the future,” said Wieland. “In addition, some areas could be rezoned easily to accommodate such housing.”
Roupp said the land where his apartments were would be available.
“I’m not coming back,” he said. “I’m 83 years old. That’s too old.”
Brickley chimed in: “Ah, Paul, you’re a spring chicken.”
Roupp responded, “Yeah, but the spring’s broken,” he chuckled.
Ron Peters is owner of Hesston
Decorating Center, which anchored a shopping area of businesses northwest along Old 81. The businesses were wiped out.
“It hits pretty hard when you have a business and four rentals wiped out,” Peters said. “We’ve got ground and concrete out there and had paid $30,000 in specials.
“People like to drive to the front door, even if it isn’t a great distance. I’d like to see the triangle concept keep building.’’
Peters was referring to the triangle formed by the proximity of the downtown area, his Ole Town Square area and the grocery store-print shop-insurance agency area south of Old 81.
He would prefer further development of the triangle rather than a realignment, say, of along Main Street.
“Old 81 has been good to us,” he said. “We feel we get the traffic through there.”
Kirk Alliman, president of Hesston College, commented that use of-a consultant and a master plan had served the college well, and should the city consider hiring a consultant and developing a master plan?
Vernon Nikkei said that such a comprehensive plan had been developed for Hesston in the 1960s by Oblinger and Smith.
“The plan’s old, but I think it’s time we took it off the shelf.”
City administrator Wieland noted that the plan was adopted in 1964 and was revised in 1981. He said he had planned to have the city council maybe update it in 1991, but in light of the situation, it could be pushed ahead.
He added that the planning commission periodically referred to the plan in making its decisions.
“My feeling is that it is time to go ahead and update the plan.”
Finney added: “You’re brainstorming, and you’re dreaming, and that’s spectacular. I think you should look for federal funds that might be available to accomplish some of the things that have been discussed, but it will take patience.”
Finney added that now would be the time to coordinate a cultural or other theme that the town might want to rally around and utilize.
He said Lindsborg is known as “Little Sweden” and Hillsboro has adopted a Dutch Country theme. Such a theme, whether based on culture or something else, could be carried out in a variety of ways, including architecture.
The message of the evening was clear. Dare to dream. Compare notes. Be willing to make changes if they would help the individual businesses and the community as a whole.
But to not take advantage of the opportunity to plan and dream would be an even greater tragedy than the storm which roared through town last week.
‘It’s hard to see some progress’

Two months after devastating tornado,
Hesston family welcomes small gains
By Larry Peirce
The Hutchinson News
HESSTON — Progress.
Stan and Sharon Swartzendruber are seeing some of it, two months after the Hesston tornado turned their lives upside down.
The couple’s home and livelihood were victims of the March 13 tornado. But like the surviving, wind-snapped trees surrounding their farm, both sites are slowly sprouting new life.
“It’s hard to see some progress. The progress we want is a new house,” Mrs. Swartzendruber said.
The family moved into a trailer house April 22, yards away from the crater that was the basement on their farm a mile west of Hesston. Small Business Administration disaster loans have arrived, allowing them to put the recovery in high gear.
The trailer pales in comparison to the old, sturdy house, but the family will celebrate Mother’s Day today — and their son Brett’s fourth birthday Monday — at home. Mrs. Swartzendruber said the move back to the farm was a relief from living out of suitcases.
“It was strange to be in one place ... to be home and just the three of us. We had lived with others for six weeks,” she said.
The family is in an unimaginable position. Rather than restoring the 90-year-old farmhouse — perfect for antiques Mrs. Swartzendruber had restored for 20 years — the Swartzendrubers are working on plans for a modern, ranch-style house. They
Trying to spruce up the trailer house which serves as her family's temporary home, Sharon Swartzendruber put lilac blossoms in her only vase — an Arby's cup.
hope to have the basement built and enclosed so they can move into it by winter.
“This was my dream house. It’s hard for me to think of rebuilding modern,” she said.
In stacks south of the trailer, building materials for a new machine shed await a construction crew, but the weather hasn’t cooperated. When the shed is finished, they’ll use it for storage.
The few trees still standing at the farm are splintered, but sprouting new leaves. Lines of small orange flags mark the 90 cedar and pine seedlings Swartzendruber has planted.
The farm is a different place without its windbreak.
On a recent stormy night, gusty winds hit the house so hard the family went to Stan’s father’s house for half the night. They knew there were no tornadoes, but they couldn’t get to sleep. Only Brett slept through it.
“You don’t realize how buildings and trees and things help you,” she said. “It’s like being out on the prairie (without them).”
They salvaged a living room chair — minus front legs — and the microwave oven is intact. Mrs. Swartzendruber is cleaning her weaving loom she moved from storage. The loom survived the storm with her and Brett in the basement, but was splattered with mud.
And her bookkeeping business is back in full swing, now that the computer equipment has been repaired.
A mile or so northeast, on the west edge of Hesston, at Gene and Stan Swart-zendruber’s Hesston Machine and Welding, the 100- by 40-foot metal building swept away by the tornado has been rebuilt. Now the raw steel they use won’t rust in the elements, and the heavy steel-bending equipment they work with will be covered.
Business has been steady, helping the family get by. The normally busy summer promises to be hectic this year. Sunglo Feed Inc. has plenty of repair work for them on its tornado-damaged equipment.
Sixty-two-year-old Gene Swartzendruber, Stan’s father, said he’s ready to start slowing down at work, but that now seems unlikely.
“It’s going to be a busy summer,” he said.
Dwight Erb, the shop’s only employee, said he thought the job he began weeks before the tornado was in doubt after the disaster.
“They said, ‘We need you now more than ever,’ ” he said.
Mrs. Swartzendruber said her husband will need to work longer hours, which will take him away from recovery efforts at the farm.
The Swartzendrubers remain focused on the positive. They’ve followed the advice of
Linda G. Riedy, Smith Center, sent this baby picture of Brett Swartzendruber to Hesston State Bank, which returned it to the family. The March 13 tornado carried the photo 60 miles to a field near Hope.
a counselor, who told them that talking about the tornado was healthy.
“The more you talk about it, the better you’re going to be down the road,” she said.
Brett is ‘‘doing a lot better,” she said. A counselor has helped show him the difference between ‘‘good wind and bad wind” by using toys and drawing pictures.
Lion, the wandering calico cat, has made the farm home for her kittens, and Rocky, the Australian shepherd-collie puppy, seems to be recovering; he staggered out of the bushes after the tornado.
The family is still in awe about the relief effort. Except for buying perishable food, the family’s shelves have been filled with canned food from the Hesston Disaster Service. Stores in Newton have given tornado victims clothing that doesn't sell.
Days after the tornado, Linda C. Riedy of Smith Center was walking in a pasture at her parents’ farm near Hope, 60 miles northeast of Hesston, when she found a torn 8- by 10-inch baby picture of Brett. She sent it to Hesston State Bank, where a family friend recognized it and brought it'home.
Ms. Riedy sent a note with the storm-tossed photograph;
“I certainly hope your community will be able to rebuild with renewed enthusiasm. Small towns are important, and the people are wonderful.”
Coping with the loss;
May tornado victims
The evening of March 13 made an indelible imprint in the lives of numerous area residents, when two vicious tornadoes dealt a devastating blow to the area.
For those who felt the direct assault of that destructive storm, adjustments have been multiple. From going through the painful process of sorting through rubble, to quieting uneasy children, to complicated decision-making for the future, their lives have not been easy. And none will ever forget the experience of the March 13 tornadoes.
An attempt was made to contact all those whose loss was reported in the March 22 issue of The Ledger. The purpose was to find out just where they are seven weeks after their lives had been so seriously disrupted.
Brief reports begin with the rural home of Kim Krehbiel, Moundridge native, who lived in the Halstead area, ten miles south, two and one-half miles west of Moundridge.
Kim Krehbiel
Krehbiel, a young man near 30, was out taking pictures of the tornado on March 13, until it got too close and he took cover in an old fruit cellar apart from his house. Two outbuildings were completely destroyed, and two others were minus their roofs and had been moved. The house foundation was wrecked and the house itself was twisted. All were considered totalled, but much is still not cleaned up.
At this point, restrictions for the Little River flood plane are being set up, and Krehbiel may find it wiser to not rebuild there at all, because compliance will be difficult. He now rents a house in Moundridge. “I’m still in something of a shock state,” stated Krehbiel, ‘‘and will be for quite awhile.”
Edward Koehns
Living on a rented farm northeast of Krehbiel, the Edward Koehn family returned from shelter in the Art Koehn basement (parents nearby) to find serious damage to outbuildings, as well as
their house moved about 15 feet off its foundation. The house has been set back on its foundation, has been fitted with new doors and windows, and a wallpapering bee took place there on Tuesday. The family plans to move back to the house from a trailer house this weekend.
Art Koehns
There was little more than a few inside walls left of the main floor of the Art and Frieda Koehn home when they and the Edward Koehn family emerged from their basement. However, in a few days, new rafters were again in place and for two weeks many volunteers assisted. Frieda said that now they were up to varnishing and painting and rugs are next. Except for the first two nights following the tornado, they have been living in the basement and plan to move upstairs toward the end of May.
As far as their feelings are concerned, “It’s healing,’’ said Frieda, “until another storm comes. The children are very on edge yet, and the hail storm a month later made them very scared.”
Milo Goerings
A short distance northeast of the Koehns (eight miles south, one fourth west of Moundridge), Milo Goerings lost five outbuildings, with other small buildings and the house was also damaged.
‘‘We’re working,” said Goering. ‘‘Basically we’re fairly well cleaned up except for some fence.”
The house has been reshingled and all but two windows replaced. One small building has been rebuilt and immediate plans call for a larger shed to replace two that were lost.
‘‘It’s a lot of work for 70-year-olds,” he said. “The shock is still felt a bit. I don’t know if you ever get over it,” he added.
Kenneth Stuckys
Just short of eight miles south of Moundridge, the rural home of Kenneth H. Stucky was hit just after the tornado crossed the Halstead road. Stucky expressed gratefulness for all the volunteer help they received after the storm.
The top story of the house, where many valuable antique pieces of furniture stood, was seriously damaged. Stucky said some pieces were just plain gone, others were shattered and others were untouched.
The Stuckys were fortunate to find a relative’s home in Sedgwick empty, where they will live for another two weeks. Later they will move to a home purchased in Halstead.
Bill Toewses
The Bill and Annie Toews family has been living in the basement of Annie’s parents, Gerry and Wanita Schrag, since March 13.
Besides losing all their buildings, the young family lost 19 ewes and 50 lambs. Of the 40 ewes left, one is a “returnee” from a visit to the feed lot of a neighbor two miles away. It is believed to have made the trip via the storm and was brought home with only a limp by way of “wear and tear.” There were also 27 lambs left to sell after the storm.
Although Bill and Annie are still picking up sticks, a full basement for a house built by Koehn Construction was begun last week. They family is excited about making the move back to their yard into
a new house, hopefully by the end of May.
Verlyn Uhrigs
The home of Verlyn and Sandy Uhrig, Hesston, was closed off from the weather after it was hit by the tornado. The Uhrigs, who operate a floorcovering business in Moundridge, had only bedrooms standing following the March disaster.
Sandy reported that carpenters are starting on the house again this week. “Hopefully it will look like something again after this week,” she said. They would like to be back in their house by the end of summer.
Presently the Uhrigs are living in a house in McPherson, which is part of an estate. The owners wanted to rent it free of charge to someone who had experienced storm damage.
As far as dealing emotionally with the loss, Sandy feels she still hasn’t really done that. “I still haven’t dug through the stuff in boxes,” she said. “I don’t want to touch it, but will have to soon.” She said that her husband, however, “just goes with the flow” and doesn’t get bothered.
Rose Regier
Milford Wedel reported that his mother-in-law, Rose Regier (living on Amos Street in Hesston), had taken it all in stride. Damage to her home had not been as extensive as many and she was back in her house a few days after the tornado. Most windows on the west side of the house had been out and were replaced, the roof was patched
(and is waiting for a new shingle job) and the garage is being repaired.
“At 88 years, she’s seen about everything,” said Wedel, “and accepted it.”
Thank you Esther Schrag for the article from the Ledger
Inman, Buhler tornado update
The tornado that changed the lives of dozens of people in McPherson and Reno Counties originated in northern Reno County and proceeded north/northeast.
The following reports of the families start at the Inman/Burr-ton road and proceed east and then south.
The John L. Thiessen Home
Six and one-half miles directly east of Inman, the nearly completed home of John and Jan Thiessen once stood, along with a 30 by 50 foot shop. Now only one tree is left to mark their homestead.
The family is living in the Hoffnungsau Mennonite Church parsonage since the interim minister lives in Pretty Prairie and doesn’t need the house north of the church.
The Thiessens have purchased the Art Neufeldt farmstead along with a few acres and will move sometime in May. Their new home is in the same section of land and is just north of the Don Froese home.
Paul Funks
The Paul and Rosella Funk family is still spending hours and hours cleaning up at their place seven miles east of Inman. But Rosella indicated that in a week all would be leveled as if there had never been a place there.
Several large outbuildings, as well as the house, all had been damaged beyond repair. The family now lives in a rented house in Inman, and is looking for a small affordable piece of ground to build a home closer to Inman.
“We’re just going day by day and trying to accept what has happened,” stated Rosella. “It isn’t easy-but with God it has been a lot easier,” she added. She also expressed gratitude for their church people and the help they have given.
Dick Zergers
Northeast of the Funk place, the new home of Dick and Lynette Zerger lost its top story to the storm and received water damage on the lowest level. Now the house is again nearly complete, and the Zergers plan for a move back in July.
Presently, they are living in the Moundridge home vacated by Dick’s grandmother, Mary Zerger, who now resides at Memorial Home.
Lynette believes that it will take a long time to get over the shock (of the storm). “Every time there’s bad weather it comes back a little,” she said.
Elfriede Stucky
Pine Village resident Elfriede Stucky, Moundridge, lost all the outbuildings on her farm near Elyria. Renters are Rick and Sheri Bressie. Minor damage to the house has been repaired and a small barn is to be built when the carpenters catch up a bit with their work. Mrs. Stucky stated that the place is still pretty much of a mess,
but that friends plan to come and cut up the broken trees for firewood some time later.
The Don Froese Home Don Froese, who lives six miles east and two miles south of Inman, stated that the four large grain bins that were smashed will be torn down. Because he and his wife Diane have sold the farmstead, they will not be rebuilding any of the structures that were destroyed in the tornado. The Froeses lost a round top near their house, which received roof damage, and a 30 by 40 foot garage.
The Ray Siemens Home Ray and Irma Siemens’ entire homestead, which was six miles east and 2 1/4 miles south of Inman, was destroyed by the tornado. They lost their brick home and several outbuildings. They are now living in an apartment in Buhler. Since the March 13 tornado, they have been looking at the various options open to them but haven’t decided yet what they’ll do. The Siemenses are just grateful that they survived the tornado unharmed.
The Kelvin Neufeldt Home The second homestead south of the Siemenses’ is the Kelvin Neufeldt place. Emily Neufeldt reported that the family is now living in a trailer house parked near their house, which has been home to several generations of Neufeldts. Their two-story wood-frame house received extensive interior damage. The dormer on the west side was destroyed, and the roof was damaged.
The Neufeldts are in the process of checking into the cost of reconstructing the house, but have no idea how long it would take before they could be back in their home.
The Fred Seiler Home In the next mile south, on the west side of the road, stands the Fred Seiler home. Before the tornado, majestic trees shaded the house. Now the trees are gone, along with the barn, grain bins, machine shed and shop. The Seilers have replaced the broken windows in the house and are living in it. They pulled all of the carpet out because it was full of glass and dirt.
Jan Seiler said that she and her husband aren’t sure what they’ll do, but they are hoping to build a new house next to the one damaged by the tornado. They don’t plan to put up any outbuildings at this time. “Everyone is just trying to get back to normal,” she stated.
The Bret Gillmore Home On the east side of the road, about one and one-half miles south of the Moundridge road, was the
Bret Gillmore homestead. Along with their house, they lost a garage, a round top, and other outbuildings. The Gillmores, who are now living in a rented house in Buhler, plan to rebuild on the same spot sometime this summer. On April 10, Marla Gillmore gave birth to a daughter, Katie Elizabeth. Marla commented that there had been a lot of adjustments lately. Although they were pretty nervous while driving in a recent hailstorm, they were dealing pretty well with “tornado after shock.”
The Bob Friesen Home
One of the first homes hit in the area was that of Bob and Ginny Friesen, who live five miles east and two miles south of Buhler. Their house’s windows were blown out by the tornado, but have been replaced and the family is now living in their home.
Most of the damage, however, was in the area surrounding their house. The Friesens have replaced the double-stall garage and are in the process of getting a workshop/machine shed assembled and put back in its original place. The shelter belt is taking longer to replace. A tree spade was used to bring in ten seven-year-old trees and the family hopes to replace more of the trees destroyed by the tornado. The Friesens don’t think they will replace the barn that was destroyed.
They feel they were more fortunate than some in the path of the tornadoes; their pickup truck wasn’t badly damage, and they recently got it back from the body shop.
Saturday, April 21, 1990 Hesston, Kansas
By BOB LATTA Editor/Publisher The Hesston Record
It’s just about time!
What time?
Why, time for the festival with the catchy name and double meaning — it’s time for “Another Bloomin’ Festival,” of course.
The March 13 tornado that ripped through the heart of Hesston destroyed property, disrupted lives and generally made a mess of things.
But while it tore at the heart, it didn’t kill the spirit of the people in this community.
It had been decided earlier that there would be a community celebration along the lines of fall festivals of years past. And plans had been set in motion to accomplish that.
Many people, led by festival committee chairman Jean Krehbiel, had come together to plan an interesting, creative celebration, one unique to this community.
Then, along came the tornado of March 13 and in the wake of its devastation and distraction, there were thoughts of canceling the event.
But it was decided by those involved in the planning that the festival would go on, as scheduled, and that it would serve as a statement to ourselves and to the world that it would take more than the fierce winds of a tornado to crush the spirit of this community.
First of all, it would be a statement that we have survived. And with the help of friends, neighbors and
10:00-11:00 a.m. - Parade, featuring more than 60 entries, will begin at Main and Hickory.
11:00-11:30 a.m. -- Money scramble, Hesston State Bank.
ll:30-Noon - Puppet show by Hesstonians Dale and Alice Pracht, free with a festival button, in basement of Hesston Colonial House, 140 N. Main.
Noon-1:00 p.m. - Sidewalk art, where children are supplied colored chalk to draw ideas with the “Bloomin’” theme on sidewalks on the west side of the 100 block of Main.
1:00-1:30 p.m. -- Second puppet show put on by the Prachts, in the basement of the Hesston Colonial House. Show is free to persons with a festival button.
1:30-2:00 p.m. -- Area 4-Hers will present demonstrations of their activities.
2:00-2:30 p.m. - Members of the Hesston Tree Board, in celebration of Arbor Day and that Hesston is a “Tree City USA,” will plant a Lacebark elm tree at King Park.
2:30-4:00 p.m. - There is no planned schedule. Activities ongoing throughout the day, though, include arts and crafts booths, food booths, clowns, stiltwalkers and jugglers; baby animals supplied in a petting zoo by members of the Moundridge-Hesston FFA; a face painting booth sponsored by Hesston Mennonite Church; a Hesston Fire Department sponsored “smoke house” to be set up by the Fire department garage; a basketball hoop shoot game and a lost and found booth at the fire station.
4:00-5:30 p.m. -- First performance of the Plummer Family of Branson, Mo., Hesston High School gymnasium.
5:00-7 p.m. - A dinner of barbecued beef, cole slaw, baked beans, chips and hot dogs. The dinner is free with a festival button. It will be served, weather permitting, outside at Hesston High School, along the west side of the building; in case of bad weather, it will be moved to the High School
Businesses continue to rebuild
The Hesston Record.
Thursday. May 31. 1990
Slightly more than two months have passed since the March 13 tornado swept through town, wiping out a number of businesses and homes in its path.
The following is an update on some of the businesses that were damaged:
* Delta and Pineland Seed, formerly at 342 W. Knott. Bill Hugie, manager -- “We’re still operating out of shop space provided by Hay & Forage. We’re swamped at the moment with trying to get our planting underway. So there’s little time for ‘house hunting’”. There are a few potential sites for relocating Delta and Pineland, but Hugie emphasized the word “potential.”
* Hair Designs, formerly at 309 N. Main, Sylvia Smith, co-owner -“We’re temporarily located at 102 S. Lancaster. We’ll be relocating to space in the Erby Buller building at 315 N. Main as soon as the building is up.”
* Hesston Decorating Center, Ole Town Square, Ron and Carol Peters, owners -- The shop is temporarily situated at 137 N. Main, in a section of the building formerly occupied by Country Casuals. The clothing store has moved to the south side of the building, where Hesston Pharmacy formerly was located.
“Workers just started work on a 150-by-80-foot building which will include space for The Photographer and new office space for local doctors Merle Nickell and Jaryl Ollenburger,” said Carol Peters. “We should be moving in within six weeks.”
* Hesston Electric - 315 N. Main, Erby and Ron Buller, co-owners -Materials for building a new structure are due anytime. “We hope to open sometime around July 1.”
The Source has relocated to the 100 block of Main, so we're in the market for new tenants, said Erby Buller.
* Hesston Machine and Welding, 330 W. Knott, Gene Swartzendruber, owner - “It’s been a rather slow process, rebuilding. Part of our building is up, but it needs tin put in place. It’s hard to do business and build at the same time. I’m hoping everything will be up and in place within the next 60 days.”
* Hesston Veterinary Clinic, Ole Town Square. Gary Baehler, veterinarian - A temporary building is erected and functional for the clinic needs at the moment. According to Karen Baehler. Gary’s wife, an insurance settlement has yet to come through. They are still awaiting word from Small Business Administration, as well. “We’re able to meet our customer needs, so we’ll get by for now,” she commented.
* King Construction, 301 N. Lancaster, LeRoy King, co-owner -“Our repairs are about 75 percent completed to the office building.” Damage was sustained to the interior walls and glass windows. For now the business is temporarily located just west of town at the King warehouse site. “Within three weeks we expect to be back in our main office,” said King.
* Kropf Lumber, 401 N. Lancaster, Kerry Krehbiel, co-owner -“We’re currently operating offices out of the old Hesco building, across from Hay & Forage Indus-
tries. In time, we plan to build office and display space on the east side of Lancaster, where we had other buddings in place betore the tornado hit. But that won’t happen until later in the fall. I expect. A storage budding is due here June 9 and will go up where our offices had formerly been located. So we have a lot going on here at Kropf.”
* Paul’s Inc., formerly of 400 N. Lancaster, Paul Burckhart, owner -- Paul’s is operating out of three locations: The office is in the Burckhart home, the plumbing at 601 S. Old Highway 81 and sheetmetal work at the old Hesco budding on North Lancaster.
“We have no plans yet to consolidate; we’ve been pretty busy helping other people with their own problems first. We're functioning. We’re taking things day by day for now.”
* Reimer’s Plumbing and Heating, 317 N. Main, LeRoy Reimer, owner - Reimer’s plans to rebuild on their former site, with construction just now underway. Representatives of Reimer's estimated work would be completed sometime this summer.
* Troyer’s Furniture Restoration, formerly of 348 Knott, Jerry Troyer. owner -- “We’re still operating out of the home for now (at 301 Amos) where the business began. We’re pretty unsettled yet. We’re looking into rental spaces but everything is so tentative. It’s hard to find a suitable budding for rent at the moment.”
Columnist gets town cooking again
Response to the needs of area tornado victims has been heart-warmingly overwhelming.
Hesstonians know that firsthand.
From volunteered labor, to materials, to donations of those little things that make life more enjoyable, like pots and nans, plates --and favorite hand-me-down cookbooks.
Touched by a Hesston reader’s request for a reprint of a beloved recipe that perished in the March 13 tornado, columnist Kathleen Kelly put out an SOS call in her Wichita Eagle column late last month, soliciting from her readers spare cookbooks and family recipes.
Her intent? That readers’ do-
nated recipes be given to victims of the tornado who were rebuilding the cooking portion of their lives.
Kelly’s article requested that donations be sent directly to the Hesston Public Library. And sent they have.
“Boxes and sacks of donated cookbooks have been delivered daily to the library in response to Kelly’s article,” said Hesston librarian Chris Buller.
These donated books are displayed on a cart near the circulation desk and are available to victims on a first-come, first-served basis, according to Buller.
Included in the display are new books as well as often-thumbed pre-owned titles and recipe clippings and file cards.
Pizza Hut set up a temporary building by March 21. Pizzas were given to all those on the damaged house list for several weeks. The Salvation Army handled the vouchers and verified the requests. This was not only a gift of food, but relieved many who had been providing meals for victims. Recipients were most grateful for this benevolence.
* Paul’s Inc., 400 N. Lancaster - Paul Burckhart, owner: “We now have our office at our home, 216 S. Main, our plumbing at 601 Old Highway 81 and our sheetmetal work in the old Hesco building on North Lancaster. Believe me, this is temporary'. We don’t know our plans at this point, but this scattering is temporary'.”
* Pizza Hut, 720 Lincoln Blvd. -- Vince Collier, co-owner: “We had a temporary’ drive-up structure in place by March 21, so we were back in business fairly quickly. Our new facility is in the works and should be open by April 23, with revisions to include adding 16 more seats.
“We’ve been swamped for work, especially with redeeming Salvation Army vouchers dispersed to tornado victims. Currently we estimate 48 percent of our business going to free pizzas for the victims. In all, we expect to bake 8,000 free pizzas for the needy over the first 60 days after the tornado
Most Hesston businesses planning to rebuild
The March 13 tornado that ripped through Hesston had a major impact on a number of businesses in the community.
Roughly a dozen firms sustained sufficient damage to shut them down. For some, the interruption was only tcmporary. For others, it could mean closing the doors for good.
Following is a compilation of businesses hardest hit and their plans for recovery:
* Delta and Pine Land Seed, 342 W. Knott -- Bill Hugie, manager: “The tornado basically wiped out our office and shop, and most of the research along with it. Fortunately, we were able to salvage some seeds, and some of our work was sent to Hawaii before the storm hit. For now, we’re working in shop space provided by Hay & Forage Industries, but that’s only temporary.
“We had rented our shop and office space from Jim Blough. He’s since sold the property. In the meantime, we’ve called around looking for appropriate office and work space. But it’s not easy to come by — especially after so many other displaced businesses are looking for new sites as well. We’re pretty much up in the air.”
* Hair Designs, 309 N. Main - Sylvia Smith, co-owner: “We leased from Gary Cooper and he’s decided not to rebuild, so we’re in the market for a new home. We were sharing booths at A Cut Above, until we could find (a temporary location at 102 S. Lancaster).
“Somehow, all of our contents remained intact after the storm. We just have nowhere to put them now. Our future is hanging in the air until we find a permanent location. North Main is our home. I’ve been there at our old shop since 1982. This is sort of like losing a part of your family.”
* Hesston Concrete, 119 W. Reusser — Gary Vogt, co-owner: “We’re back in operation, although we don’t have all of our equipment back yet. By the beginning of next week we should have all the essentials. This location is temporary' at this point. We’re looking at relocating to the edge of town.
“This is a dusty kind of business to be situated in the middle of town. This can be an opportunity for us, relocating and rebuilding at the same time. We hope to be set up in a new location in the next month.”
* Hesston Decorating Center, Ole Town Square — Carol Peters, co-owner: “Yes, we’re rebuilding! We hope to be open in our old site by mid-June. Our building has been ordered, similar to what we had with a metal building and brick front. The Photographer will continue plans of opening in the Square. Ole Town Cleaners will not, but we plan to add a section for a new rental business with intentions to locate there.”
* Hesston Electric, 315 N. Main — Ron Duller, co-owner: “We’re located at 112 S. Weaver, in the small building between Skeet’s Service and the Randall Street car wash for now. We have no time frame, but we do intend to rebuild on our own lot along North Main. We’re getting specifications together.
“We plan to build fairly close to what we had before (with the electric company in the back and space for the auto parts store in the front). We plan to start building by early summer.”
* Hesston Heritage Inn Motel and Restaurant, 606 E. Lincoln Blvd. — Claridy Stauffer, co-owner: “We’re uncertain of our plans. We’re not open. We sustained considerable damage, in the 100s of thousands of dollars. What to do? A sale is pending. There is just too much for us to have to recover from here now. Our house is gone as well (hit by the tornado). We’ll probably move somewhere and start over fresh.”
* Hesston Machine and Welding, 330 W. Knott — Velma Swartzendruber, co-owner: “We’re starting up, sort of standing on one leg right now. About half of the shop is built now, the east side. We don’t have enough electricity
Thursday, April 19, 1990
to operate like we need. But we’re getting there. We own the shop. We’ll build very similar to what we had. We expect to be done within the next several weeks.
“Our business was leveled, but once we began sifting through things, we were able to salvage a lot of tools and some inventory. Some of our heavy equipment was left standing but the wiring was stripped out of it. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”
* Hesston Veterinary Clinic, Ole Town Square — Gary Baehler, owner: “We’re building a 16-foot by 32-foot temporary structure which should be open within the next two weeks. We should be able to handle small animal care and dispense medications. We’re looking into a SBA loan at the moment to rebuild. The building had belonged to Ron and Carol Peters. We’ll either build our own this time or they’ll build and we’ll buy from them. Within 4-6 months we should be open in a permanent facility.”
* King Construction, 301 N. Lancaster - LeRoy King, co-owner: “We’re situated in our warehouse building in the industrial area for now. We have offices and classrooms there that we are using.
“Our main office site remains standing and is Fine, structurally, but much of the interior and the glass windows are gone. Fortunately 80-90 percent
* The Source, 315 N. Main -- Carol Birch, co-owner: “We are planning to reopen soon, hopefully early in May, at 117 N. Main.” Formerly affiliated with Big A Auto Parts, Birch said they would now offer APA parts through Big Western Automotive, an independent warehouse in Wichita that services jobbers in the area.
* Troyer’s Furniture Restoration, 348 Knott — Jerry Troyer, owner: “We will not rebuild, at least at our old location. We rented the building from Jim Blough who has decided not to rebuild. For now, we’re back in our garage where we started, at 301 Amos. We were a direct hit. We lost everything. Everything. We’re looking for a new location. There’s a lot of work ahead, but we’ve got to start somewhere. We want to stay in Hesston.”
* U-Do-It Car/Truck Wash, junction of Plaza and Lincoln Boulevards — Information unavailable.
of our office files were retained. They were stored in a central office in the building and remained intact.
“We were open within three days of the tornado hitting. We expect to take eight weeks to renovate the building. There’s work to be done, but we’re not as bad off as we could be.”
* Kropf Lumber, 401 N. Lancaster — Kerry Krehbiel, co-owner: “Four of our nine structures were totaled, including most of our main building and display area and some storage. Yet we were open the next morning (after the tornado hit). There was a lot of shuffling, though, I admit. But people needed plastic to protect their belongings and wood to board up windows and holes.
“We’re replacing supply as storage becomes available. And we are ordering per customer requests. Putting up more storage space is our No. 1 intent. Our display and offices will remain at their temporary location in the former Hesco Building on Lancaster, across from Hay & Forage Industries, for now. We should have everything back into storage fashion within 6-7 weeks.
“Display and office space is down the road a ways, as in maybe this summer sometime. Storage is our priority. We’re grateful to HFI for working with us on their facility.”
* Ole Town Cleaners, Ole Town Square — Carolyn Wohlgemuth, co-owner: “We will not be reopening. Instead, we will pick up dry cleaning orders at the Hitchin Post for Ochs Cleaners in Newton. OSHA had been getting on me about my cleaning solvents, and I was going to have to decide whether to change out all my solvents and machines or close altogether anyway. The tornado helped make my decision for me.”
Tornado throws kink in city budget plans
Hesston city council members had just begun looking into financing the city’s budget for the coming year when the March 13 tornado hit.
As a result of that disaster, it looks as though there will be some rearranging of general fund tax dollars to finance some of the repairs. which, according to city administrator Jay Wieland. caused more than $375\000 in damages to city-owned property.
Roughly 40 percent of that $375,000 — or $150,000 — was uninsured.
Financing for repair or replacement of some of this uninsured property may be sought through a state-level urgent needs grant or, Wieland suggested, through U.S. Sen. Bob Dole's appropriations bill.
The rest will have to come out of city funds — meaning local tax dollars.
Accounting for the damages, Wieland began by stating that about 80 city signs were either damaged or missing altogether and would have to be replaced. Add in new poles and the labor to install them and the cost is $19,000. Signs are typically not insured, he commented.
In excess of 138 feet of gas piping was damaged and was also largely uninsured, at a cost of $28,000.
And 62 meters and gas line risers sustained enough damage to warrant them being replaced, at a cost of $42,000.
A bridge and culvert on Knott Street between Roupp and Erb was uninsured and will need repair, to
the tune of $19,000.
Other repairs are as follows:
* More than 775 feet of underground sewer lines needed cleaning or replaced after being stuffed with loose insulation and debris, at a cost of more than $40,000.
* A total of 62 water meter lines and lids needed repairs, at $15,000.
* Although structurally sound and safe to use. the small water tower at Knott and Hess received some structural damage to portions of its legs and tension bars which will need repair. The tank, just painted last summer, will need to be repainted. Estimates by structural engineers for these repairs run about $60,000.
* The shelter house at King Park and some open-air shelters were blown away and will need to be replaced. Replacement of the shelter house itself is estimated at $45,000. A water fountain and several pieces of playground equipment were damaged - including the new train and covered wagon. Replacement of this equipment will cost about $15,000.
* A city oil tank and mechanical pump will need to be replaced, at a cost of $15,000.
* The city ball diamond storage building and restrooms were destroyed. Replacement is estimated at $30,000.
* Another $20,000 will go toward repairs to the roof and bay windows at city hall.
* Two city water hydrants were damaged, at a cost of $20,000.
* A city utility truck will need $5,000 in repairs, and
the loss of trees and shrubs of any kind. Wieland pointed out.
At the moment. Wieland noted that basic gas, sewer and water repair projects are about 70 percent completed.
“Fencing is going up here and there, and sewer line replacement is underway.”
Bleachers at the city ball diamond are expected to be installed in time for softball practice.
The city burn site (city landfill) has been closed for weeks because of it being bogged down with initial cleanup debris from the tornado.
Wieland said he didn’t expect
non-burnables to be cleared out of the burn site and the facility reopened to the public for another few weeks.
Other more substantial projects like the King Park shelter house and water tower projects will not be completed until late summer or early fall, he said, because of the need for funds and manpower.
And of course tree replacement will be ongoing for years to come.
Finance-wise, having to dip heavily into operating funds to recover from the tornado has put a crimp in the city keeping up with its usual planned upkeep.
For instance, most cities don’t budget new playground equipment or a water tower paint job one year,
only to have to rebudget the same projects the very next spring.
Resources will have be to redirected to rebuild for a time rather than move forward with improvement projects of the future. Wieland said.
“We’ll have to stop in our tracks and seriously reconsider how and where to fund repairs wisely,” he said. “Just where to begin...”
Wieland paused a moment, then commented thoughtfully, “We’ll manage, somehow.
“Things could’ve been worse, you know,” he spoke optimistically. “Considering the magnitude of the storm, things could've been much, much worse.”
Hesston Public Library to document March 13 tornado
Library requests tornado stories
The Hesston Public Library will become the site of a public depository of “Hesston Tornado” materials, according to Chris Buller, librarian.
The library has begun to acquire newspaper articles, videos, photographs and cassette tapes pertaining to the tornado that devastated the Hesston area March 13.
Some of these items, including an album of photographs from Stephen Goodyear, have already been donated. The library invites other Hesston and area residents to contribute photos, home videos and other materials to this special library collection.
Also planned for the library is the development of a collection of original accounts and anecdotes
telling the personal experiences of Hesston and area residents during and after the tornado.
The library invites individuals and groups to submit written reports of personal experiences. These need not be of professional quality. Hand-written spontaneous accounts will be quite acceptable.
Each written page will be added to a notebook of original stories, chronicling this significant event in the history of Hesston.
Contact librarian Chris Buller for more information on the Hesston tornado collection at Hesston Public Library. The library is located at 110 E. Smith, P.O. Box 640, Hesston, Ks. 67062, or persons may call the library at 327-4666.
Record Photo/BOB LATTA Hesston librarian Chris Buller glances through one of many cookbooks that have been made available to Hesstonians.
Hesston Public Library will become the site of a public depository of "Hesston Tornado" materials, according to Chris Buller, Librarian. The library has begun to acquire newspaper articles, videos, photographs, and cassette tapes pertaining to the tornado that devastated the Hesston area on March 13 of this year.
Some of these items, including an album of photographs from Stephen Goodyear, have already been donated. The library invites other Hesston and area residents to contribute your photos, home videos, and other materials to this special library collection.
Also planned for the library is the development of a collection of original accounts and anecdotes telling the personal experiences of Hesston and area residents during and after the tornado. All community members are encouraged to share your memories and reactions to the March disaster. The library invites individuals and groups to submit written reports of personal experiences. These need not be of professional quality. Hand-written spontaneous accounts will be quite acceptable. Each written page will be added to a notebook of original stories, chronicling this significant event in the history of Hesston. In years to come, this collection of tornado information may prove to be of great historical and cultural significance.
Contact Librarian Chris Buller for more information on the Hesston Tornado collection at Hesston Public Library. The Library is located at 110 E. Smith, P.0. Box 640, Hesston, Kansas 67062. Telephone: 316 327-4666.
Hesston Tornado materials depository
The decision was made to have a garage sale. The proceeds would go to the Tornado Victims Fund. We needed to move, H.F.I. needed the space we were occupying. The clothing and furniture needs had been met for the tornado victims from our offerings.
Hesston College students came and carried many, many boxes upstairs to the stage area where the sale was being held. Volunteers priced the items and arranged them on tables.
Security was provided by H.F.I., and they also brought coffee for the volunteers. Some one from the community brought doughnuts. We were able to offer our items at very reasonable prices which made it possible for us to reach out to others, who had needs for other reasons than the tornado. And they felt good because they, too, could contribute to the Fund. The towel truly has two ends.
At the end of the day we still had an overabundance of things. Again, volunteers boxed everything and with joy we watched the Salvation Army trucks from Newton and Wichita load everything and hopefully some other people would have their needs met.
Verna Shoemaker, Pauline Diller, Anna Jantz, Clyde Jantz, John Detwiller, Willard Brunk Check out some of the clothing ____
Lu Schmidt checks out the curtains
Post-Tornado Pastoral Comments Hesston Mennonite Church Fred Obold
I was approaching the 72nd day as pastor of the Hesston Mennonite Church. The day gave ordinary promise to being filled with activities. In the morning I met with Tim and Cindy Betts and their new son, Jordan Lee in Wichita. In the afternoon an appointment was scheduled with an individual from the community for counseling. It was during that warm afternoon that I noticed the clouds forming and the mid-March winds hinted strongly that springtime was well within grasp.
Shortly after five o’clock three women hurriedly came running down the hallway from the west. They inquired about the availability of using the basement for shelter. Four of us were in the basement for a short period of time after which the three women left to return to their homes. When I arrived upstairs in the office again and the siren sounded I returned to the basement with a portable radio. While in the basement a person from emergency service and a young mother of two children who were on the street came in to join me until the sirens abated. Radio announcements indicated that Hesston was definitely in the path of the approaching tornado. We waited....waited....waited.
Eventually the electricity was gone and we were in complete darkness. Upon exiting the basement, the sky was blue; the sun was shining. Persons in the immediate neighborhood stood on their porches and sidewalks looking both north and south. No words were shared. Seemingly, all regretted to leave their "fortresses" in this part of Hesston. Initially there was an erie sense of silence.
During the evening hours of that Tuesday, I met several pastors near the city hall. I felt unvoiced questions about the number of imagined physical cries and long-term crises that would be known to me within moments. All of these questions came to me while listening to the cacophony of emergency vehicles and flashing lights. Where were my own family members I questioned? Would there be families needing crisis counseling because of deaths in the wake of the mighty winds that had passed over just hours before?
A night of darkness was interrupted only by the droning emergency sirens and flashing lights. When morning came, I found it difficult to establish with certainty the day of the week. It was when I found my schedule book there was a sense that time had been distorted in such a way that the way that the afternoon counseling session the day before had been several days earlier.
On Wednesday several sacks of clothing and a few groceries appeared at the fellowship hall of Hesston Mennonite Church. The clothing was sorted for men, women and children by Barb Martin and her daughter, Trisha. The groceries were placed in an adjacent Sunday School room. There appeared to be no problems with incoming commodities. Within a few days, semi loads of clothing, furniture and food was arriving. Trucks, vans, automobiles and pickups arrived from Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Indiana and Colorado. Attempts were made to notify radio stations and television channels to announce that clothing and furniture had been received in sufficient quantity to meet the immediate need. We encouraged communication to express appreciation for the generosity of those sending clothing and household items.

Obold letter, continued....
Telephones in the church offices seemed to ring incessantly. Barbara Martin, Administrative Assistant, gave directions to persons who came to assist in clothing. The amount of clothing and household items arriving surpassed Barb’s ability to sort. Essentially floor space became inadequate and additional sorting could not continue. Space was inadequate to place items even before sorting. As Sunday School rooms within the fellowship hall were filled and the depth of material increased in that room, it seemed apparent that items would need to be stored in the east/west corridor. This was done to the extent that it was nearly impossible for individuals to walk through that corridor.
Ruth Mason volunteered to coordinate numbers of women and men from the community who came to assist in the sorting process. College women and men worked many hours - often between 8 a.m. and 10 or 11 o'clock in the evenings. Piles of clothing continued to mount. Incredible amounts of household goods could no longer be contained in only Sunday School rooms. Barb continued to assist in the fellowship hall and somehow managed to do an amazing amount of office work.
After sometime it was apparent that additional personnel was needed to make necessary contacts with persons experiencing complete property losses and damage to homes of less severity. Evelyn Godshall was employed by the Board of Elders to coordinate information and personally provide information of service agencies serving in the community on an emergency basis. This position existed for approximately one month.
As pastor I appreciated the assistance of Mennonite Disaster Service in addition to a variety of assistance given by the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Lutheran Social Services, Seventh Day Adventists and other groups. My wife, Ruth, and I had the opportunity to host two Seventh Day Adventists emergency personnel during part of their stay in the community. Having these two persons from Missouri and Colorado was a pleasant experience which provided opportunity to discuss several commonalities in faith and a few differences in practice.
Worship during the weeks immediately following the tornado will be long remembered. A worship tape of the March 18th service has been forwarded to the local public library for historical purposes.
Now nearly two months after the tornado pastoral calls continue to relate to the storm system of March 13 which is called the Hesston Outbreak. The lingering effect of that storm will be felt for years; for many, the storm will undoubtedly have life-long implications.
God’s gracious hand has been realized in a variety of ways within in the community-even during the darkest hours.
What Is A Word From the Lord?
(Sermon Title of Our Pastor, Fred Obold) by Justus Holsinger, Church Historian
The worship service of March 18 was unlike any worship service in the eighty-year history of the Hesston Mennonite Church. It was in memory of that fateful Tuesday when the tornado passed over the city of Hesston.
As families filed into the sanctuary they noted the basin, towel and old chair on the platform and at the rear of the church. These symbols reminded the congregation that we are a people of the basin and the towel.
Many families had suffered heavy damages to their property, many of whom lost their houses and personal property and some, their businesses.
Obold reminded us that the pitcher of water must be emptied, the basin must be filled, and the towel must be shared.
He quoted a poem by the poet, L. Elaine Rosenberger from the book I Have A Song entitled:
The Towel Has Two Ends
We recall our Master’s words And name ourselves "A servant people; "
The people of the basin and the towel." And the pitcher, it is tall;
And the basin it is round;
And the towel has two ends.
"The basin and the towel,"
It is a phrase to say,
A symbol to admire.
One that fires imagination into reality. But the pitcher must be emptied.
And the basin must be filled And the towel must be shared.
It is not glamorous.
Where life is commonplace,
Traces of ignorance, prejudice Smear our feet. We need A common cleansing in healing community, Where the pitcher, it is tall;
And the basin welcomes all;
And the towel has two ends.
The children’s time was also different from other services in that they were invited to share their experiences from the Tuesday evening tornado.
When asked the question "Where were you when the tornado struck?" one said, "We were scrunched down in the garage." Another said, "We were safe."
In response to the question "What were you doing to help someone?" one said "I was picking up wood" and another "I was helping the homeless."
Speaking on the subject "What is a Word from the Lord?" Obold asked the question, "Where does one look for a sermon after a nine million dollar loss?"
While wandering among the debris after the tornado he noted a piece of paper being tossed about in the breeze and his first impulse was one of anger toward God for permitting such a destruction of property.
In picking up the paper, which was tom at the comer, he noted that it was Chapter 12 from a book describing the different patterns of prayer. One of the messages from the paper said that our prayers should not begin with petitions to God which if granted would not be for our own spiritual welfare.
Sometimes we ask for a stone and God gives us bread, and sometimes we ask for a serpent and he gives us a fish. Our prayers should begin with thanksgiving and praise rather than with petitions.
The hymns "Praise to God, Immortal Praise" and "Lord, Should Rising Whirlwinds" were sung antiphonally by the congregation.
There were few dry eyes among the congregation in the singing of "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" with Phyllis Rhodes as soloist on two stanzas.
On the morning of May 14, 1990, I wakened without the aid of an alarm clock at approximately 6 o'clock. The house was very quiet; the electricity was still off. We had water though. Keith, my husband and I pulled on jeans and sweatshirts. We headed out to the homesite of a friend. I had stopped the evening before, but Keith had not yet seen the demolition of their home.
We first stopped by Fred Obold's house to see what my role as church secretary should be in the aftermath of the destruction. I felt as though I needed to physically help, but if I was needed more in the office, I was willing to do that. We agreed to meet at the church around S o'clock. The devastation was unreal in the daylight.
On arriving at church, Hess ton College was pulling together their students to organize and disburse. I attempted to join that meeting, but the phone kept ringing needing to be answered. After the students had disbanded, Fred felt he needed to go out and visit with persons that attended Hesston Mennonite. He left. He returned shortly. As a new person to the community, he could not find street addresses when there were no house numbers. Wes Jantz dropped by to see if he could be of help. It was decided that Wes would answer the phone and I would go with Fred.
A call was taken by my daughter, Trisha from the city building, would our church be willing to house food and clothing as it arrived? As I was returning the call, the first load arrived. This arrived by way of a one-ton farm truck with trash sacks full of clothing from the Marion Economy Shop. Trisha labeled the rooms in the fellowship hall as to men/women/children/coats/household items/shoes/bedding/food. She stayed at the church to inform persons coming where to deposit their i terns.
Fred and I walked the city, visiting with persons from our congregation. The day was cold, cloudy and generally dreary. Clean up was underway. Coming down Weaver street the houses looked "bombed out." The combination of aircraft overhead, the weather, and condition of surroundings made me feel as though I was in a war zone. It was an ugly feeling, leaving me emotionally drained.
Coming back to the church, the fellowship hall was beginning to receive the first of the onslaught. The following day, three semi-loads of clothing, food and used furniture were delivered from the Jaycees of Salina to our doors with a promise of more to come. In the evening, persons from Dodge City came with one 16 foot horse trailer, one 18 foot horse trailer and a farm truck. The fellowship hall was full and overflowing. The clothing had spilled out of the fellowship hall down the hallway into the north foyer. We had suffered another disaster, this one at the hands of compassionate persons.
I remember feeling pretty good when I would get up in the morning. At around 10 o'clock the skin on my forehead would start sliding into my eyes. It was though that would help this overabundance to go away. Of course it didn't; but we had wonderful volunteers that came in to help sort. Ruth Mason and Ruth Obold agreed to assume responsibility. I began putting in a few hours in the office. We had not planned to have a bulletin for Sunday morning worship, but then at the last minute Friday afternoon it was decided that would be helpful. So Saturday I anticipated coming in for only an hour or so to put together a bulletin. In reality I started at 9:00 a.m. and went home after 5:00 p.m.
There were college kids who came in day after day to help sort. They supplied much needed comic relief when they found some "wonderful" item and would model it. They didn't quit. They were splendid.
The days following the storm were a time of getting acquainted with persons who came to help such as Kathy from the Seventh Day Adventists and Mary Ann Short from Prairie View. These were bright spots. There was laughter and exhaustion. It was stressful, but we survived and we continue to.
Barbara Martin
Hesston Mennonite Church
Administrative Assistant
For years on Wednesday mornings the pastors of the Hesston Community churches got together for coffee and fellowship. But the Tornado of March 13th challenged us to get together and work together as a team in a very intensive way. I am convinced our Ministerial Alliance was called upon to provide leadership in relief efforts because of our ability and reputation in the community as a united and cooperative group of pastors.
On March 13th I was pastor of Hesston United Methodist Church.
My 6 year tenure provided me community contacts and recognition as a leader. Two days earlier on Sunday March 11th, it was announced to the congregation that I would be moving to a new appointment June 1. On the day of the tornado I was one of 9 members of the Hesston Ministerial Alliance; but I also became a victim of the tornado.
Later I worked with Sue Jones in networking information about FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Assistance) to John Waltner (mayor), Jay Wieland (City Manager) and Lon Buller (Harvey County Emergency Preparedness Director. We also assessed the need to request UMCOR assistance (the United Methodist equivalent to the Mennonite MDS)
March 17
Continued to network information about needs, relief help and offers of help by work teams.
Meeting produced:
—list of names for Coordinator (Rick Saylor and Ron Guengerich to work on recruiting someone)
-Clothing will move to Communications Center building at HFI (from College church) on Thurday
- Food to be moved later, food pantry needs restocked, list given to me to network to United Methodist Churches waiting to respond (Food was received in 24 hours)
— Kathleen Clark was introduced, and discussion of her work with us to: be authorized to work on our behalf, to assess
our operations (and Red Cross and Salvation Army) organize a network of relief aid, and formulate description of what Coordinator should do
That we request Prairie View provide counseling support at the Disaster Center (I was in charge of coordinating this)
We offer $1,000 per month plus travel expenses along with adm. expense support. Evelyn agreed to take the position and immediately asked us to pray together. We arranged for her to meet Kathleen Clark and begin to work together.
Beginning this day, Ron Guengerich began taking minutes of our meetings. HMA meets weekly (at least) for on-going coordination of Disaster Relief. Evelyn Rouner provides excellent leadership and sensitivity as Disaster Center Coordinator — doing more than she was asked and putting in long hours.
Karen Unruh
Secretary. Hesston United Methodist Church
March 14-15: I spent these days helping friends sort through their remaining belongings. Thursday evening we had four guests in our home as their homes were still without power Over the next three days, I washed uncounted loads of clothes for friends and ironed them They were wet from the rain and full of debris.
March 16-23: The electricity and phone service was restored to the church, so I returned to work, no longer for just three hours a day, five days a week but eight hours a day six days a week. Thursday and Friday was spent basically answering the telephone, accepting condolences from fellow United Methodist churches and determining what they could do to help. We were still assessing who in our congregation and community had damage and what their immediate needs were and administering physical help where needed.
After Sunday, a day of rest, the next week continued much the same along with handling finances for our Disaster Fund: collecting clothes, food, furniture, appliances, dishes etc., as the offers came in and the needs were apparent. A liaison person was assigned to each affected family to help us stay informed as to their needs.
Also during this week UMCOR used our offices as headquarters so the church office became even more of a communication center. The "normal" running of the church, the fact that the pastor was heavily involved in community efforts, and the aforesaid activities made for pretty full days.
On Tuesday, March 13, I finished some work, in my office at Hesston College and went out to baseball practice where I’m assistant coach. We were supposed to have had a double-header with Central from McPherson but we canceled because the field was wet and the weather conditions weren't good. The field did dry out enough to practice but there was a very dark ridge of clouds hanging to the southwest. I was explaining to some of the players that we were experiencing the kind of conditions that produce tornados. When the cold air on the other side of that cloud ridge mixes with the warm air that we had, the twisters can form. Shortly after that, the warning sirens sounded the first time. We immediately called practice, put the equipment away and went home. Sometime shortly after that, the sirens sounded a second time and the Harvey County Preparedness Unit broke onto cable TV to say that their was a tornado 7 miles southwest of Hesston and moving toward us.
Duane Yoder’s story continued...
gathering at 8:30. By 9:00 or so, we had sent out all the students with the instruction to help people sort through their personal belongings that were salvagable, to carry debri and trash to the edge of the street, and to be especially sensitive to people and their feelings as they helped. If people needed to stop and talk, then listening was the best help they could give.
As soon as the students were all sent out, I got on my bicycle and made the rounds to see that they were all at the locations that they had been sent to and that they were doing something useful. I also checked back with MDS to see if anything had changed in regard to our help from their point of view. We had another gathering at 1:00 and sent students back in the same way. By this time, some clothes and food were already coming in from outside and students were used to help unload.
At approximately 16:15 p.m. on March 13, 1990 I was on patrol for the City of Buhler Police Department when all officers in Reno County were alerted by the Hutchinson/Reno County Emergency Dispatch center that a tornado was confirmed on the ground northeast of the City of Pretty Prairie moving northeast.
CPL Wayne I. Baughman
Gary Danner
Route 2 - Box 156 Newton, Kansas 67114
Dear Ms. Rouner
I recieved a request from the Hesston Disaster Center inviting me to say what role I played in the clean up efforts following the tornado. My wife and I pastor one of the nearby churches and most of our involvement concerned the pastoral needs of the 6 families in our congregation who were "hit".
In the immediate aftermath of the tornado we spent 2 days cleaning up debris and visited our victims on a once a week basis for the first month to see how they were coping. We also had them come to our house for a meal together so they could hear and tell each other their own story of what happened. In addition we set up a fund at the Wheatland Rank for all the victims in the Goessel area. We also worked with other pastors in our area to have some mental health experts available once a week for counseling those who were having a tough time dealing with the disaster. We also recruited some volunteers to help clean up a farm of a family who experienced a lot of emotional instability during this time .
In reflection we did not do a lot of the physical cleanup as it seemed there were so many to help with that. Our role was more to walk with persons in their anger and pain and to help them make decisions when they were unable to make decisions because of the shock.
Keith Redding Assoc. Pastor Hesston MB Church
The March 13, 1990 Tornado was seen from our neighbor's basement window (our house has no basement) located on the 300 block of South Streeter. My wife, Pat, had just arrived home from work and supper was in the oven, almost finished. We heard the second siren and headed one house north. Some of the other neighbors were there and we watched the storm together. We saw it pass through, with debris flying in the air. The older people (and more experienced in tornados) thought it must've hit the north part of town. One of them works at the Corp. and joked, "Well, we won’t have work tomorrow." Little did we know, as we stood in sunlight and untouched by damage, the destruction and violence that had just hit our town, closer than we realized.
Since Pat and I had Lamaze class, we quickly ate and left. Before we left town, we stopped to see the church and some friends that lived near the church. We couldn't believe our eyes and wished we could've stayed and helped. When we got to the Newton Medical Center, about 7:00 p.m., the hospital was busy with activity, fearing injuries and casualties. Because the weather was intensifying once again, our class was cancelled.
The next day, Wednesday, was cold and windy. Our house had electricity and phone but no gas (which meant no heat or hot water).
My day consisted of walking the path of the tornado and checking on our church people. I would often spend time talking with the victims and helping where I could. I made sure they all had the basics — food, clothing, water, and a place to stay. Of course, others were doing the same thing. Most of the day, I helped clean up, along with many other volunteers from all over the state.
Thursday, the Ministerial Alliance met at the Whitestone Church, where food was already coming in by the truck loads. I was asked to go with the MDS leaders — my job was to help them around Hesston and not get lost. In the morning, we surveyed some job sites with the other leaders and even went out to the country some. In the afternoon, I found myself at MDS Headquarters (at Hesston Middle School), matching people with jobs. The phone would ring over and over and we would try to answer the many, many questions.
Irvin Reimer, Marvin Toews, and Roger Ratzlaff seemed to be the team in place at the Middle School. They tried to know what was happening around town, while at the same time, help place people where they were best needed. It quickly became aware that they needed more help with this enormous task.
I felt unsure about what I was doing but I tried to do the best I could. People would come in and we would send them out. Groups from all over would offer their services and we would try to match them with the best job site. By Friday, the MDS leaders had other commitments and wanted me to stay and keep the place running. That was my job Friday and Saturday morning. By then, I was tired to say the least. The days were hard to keep track of and it seemed I was always at the Middle School.
By Saturday afternoon, I was ready to take a break. My wife and I went to Newton and had a picnic. We were seven miles away but it seemed like more. It was refreshing and much-needed, especially for me.
After the March 13, 1990 tornado it became obvious that a structured response from the community was necessary. In the early hours it was the emergency preparedness organization from the county and city hall that were most active. The local churches and pastors seemed caught up in ministry to individuals from their own congregations.
On Friday, March 16, it became obvious some organization was taking place. Prairie View, under Tom Shane's direction, had begun offering counseling at the Hesston Mennonite Church and the Whitestone Mennonite Church. Hesston Mennonite Church had become the site for clothing distribution. Whitestone had become the food bank center.
On that Friday morning, Ron Guengerich convened a meeting of the Hesston Ministerial Alliance. Roger Ratzlaff was in attendance.
Several were present from Prairie View. Discussion ranged from facilitating the distribution of clothing and food to preparation for worship and counseling services. One of the early tasks was to do a complete audit of the city and its destruction. Effort was made to organize the audit to find not only those victims from the churches but also those who were not churched by local congregations. Although the process took the better part of the week, one of the major contributions of the Alliance was this audit of needs and losses.
In addition to the gifts in kind financial resources began pouring into Hesston. One of the first organizational tasks of the Ministerial Alliance was to form the Tornado Victims Fund Committee. Because Reger Ratzlaff was showing leadership in a number of areas, he was appointed to the force immediatly. Dale Hochstetler became the Chairman. Dave Anderson was also appointed as a member. Lynn Jost was assigned to represent the Ministerial Alliance. Rick Saylor was the representative from the Methodist Church until Walt Patton was appointed. The group first attempted to set some criteria by which financial resources would be disbursed. The next step was an effort to see to it that those who had been most severely damaged and had least resources would have emergency relief. The third stage of relief disbursal came in the form of meeting the needs of people with substantial losses. That process continues to this moment.
Ronald Guengerich
Pastoral duties took a sudden change at 5:35 p.m. on March 13.
Already that evening before the sun went down on a darkened Hesston,
Ruth and I were out seeing how Whitestone and community people had fared. The devastation was incredible but the relief at no reports of deaths or severe injuries was wonderful. Already that evening I saw Lynn Jost and we noted the need for cooperative action on the part of the ministers.
Wednesday was spent in helping clean up and making several rounds through town to check on all my parishioner’s physical and mental states. Everyone had temporary housing, at least for several days. During the day, we as ministers agreed to meet the following morning (Thursday, March 15) at Whitestone.
At our first meeting, at Whitestone (which was still without electricity), we the pastors, along with Roger Ratzlaff (community coordinator), and national relief personnel, made some very basic assignments: clothing and household material would be supervised and managed by Hesston Mennonite, food by Whitestone, counselling with Prairie View personnel at Whitestone, emergency day care at Inter-Mennonite. We also noted that we would need a committee to manage the distribution of relief funds which were already coming in to Hesston and made some initial proposals of names designating Lynn Jost as our HMA representative on the committee.
After this morning meeting, we at Whitestone began to make arrangements for the "Food Bank" which we needed to supervise. Food was already coming in. By the next day, Friday, the Food Bank was in operation by many volunteers under the excellent, efficient supervision of Edna Willems and Esther Schrag. The Food Center stayed at Whitestone for about ten days until moving to the Tornado Relief Center in the old administration building at Hay and Forage Industries.
For the next week the Ministerial Alliance met every day at 9:00 in the morning to report and coordinate our efforts. All persons affected needed to have their property damaged accessed; we wanted to make sure everyone had housing, food, clothing and any counselling help which was needed. We made assignments to carry out these jobs and to report back our findings.
Early in the week, March 20, it became obvious that the HMA was being asked (?) and expected (!) to provide most of the coordination for the overall relief effort. The city offices, swamped with emergency needs and utility problems, worked very closely with us and supported us. We also found out that HFI would provide space so that we could have one location from which and at which our disaster relief efforts could be centered and coordinated. Quite quickly the Hesston Disaster Relief Center was being born.
In short order, during the second week, the Red Cross moved into HFI; clothing and furniture was moved there from Hesston Mennonite, housing needs were being coordinated; relief monies were being allotted by the Finance Committee. What we needed to complete this puzzling assortment of efforts was an efficient, skilled coordinator. Many names came up, some were contacted, and by Monday, March 26, we had the person we needed to do the job. It was a tremendous relief for me as a pastor to meet Evelyn Rouner and have her on the job coordinating this complex effort within two weeks of the tornado.
There was tremendous stress on the HMA pastors because of the twopronged increase in responsibilities. First, we had our own congregations to lead and to pastor. At Whitestone we had 18 households with severely damaged homes. All of these persons needed pastoral care. There were also special church activities which were needed to deal with this disaster: worship services and a special congregational meal and discussion led by Dr. Robert Carlson of Prairie View (March 21). Second, we had responsibility to lead and coordinate the community relief effort in distributing resources to those most severely affected. Following March 13, it seemed like my work had increased at least twofold.
TO: Evelyn Rouner
FROM: Donna Koehn RE: March 13 memories
As I drove on Park Road, March 13, 5:45 p.m., enroute to pick up my daughter at her piano teacher's home, I was appalled at the destruction. Little did I know, at that time, that this destruction was only a part of the total destruction of Hesston. It took many hours before I realized all that the monster tornado had done to my home town.
Wednesday, March 14, I did not go to my job (as secretary of Whitestone Mennonite Church). There was no electricity and no phone service at the church, so I went to help some friends, who had lost their home, begin cleaning up. It was over-whelming! Where do you begin?
Thursday, March 15, when I got to work, I found a Food Pantry had been started in the basement of the church. I worked many hours with Edna Willems and Esther Schrag and numerous other volunteers, putting out the many, many boxes and truckloads of food that started coming in.
Food wasn't brought in only on Thursday, but continued in a steady flow for many days. The generosity of surrounding communities was incredible. Food came from as far away as Nebraska!
It took several days to get the word out to the tornado victims (and host homes) that there was food available for them. Then the families started coming in. All were grateful, but most were hesitant. "We don't need this"..."Others need this worse..." were common comments.
It took some gentle nudging to get them to stock up on the items they could use.
Shopping carts were loaned out to us, and grocery bags donated, for our "grocery store". For eleven days we helped load hundreds of sacks and boxes of food for those who came to shop. The groceries were then loaded on the elevator, taken up, and out to the cars and pick-ups.
A grocer from the Harper area sent several boxes of frozen meat to us.
A gentleman from Mt. Hope had a cow processed into 2 lbs packages of hamburger! What a treat for those who had lost freezers full of meat! Fresh eggs, and hundreds of pounds of potatoes came in. The manager of Braums in McPherson brought eggs and fresh milk! These are only a hand full of examples of what was donated. Items went out as fast as they came in!
Working with the Food Pantry was good "therapy" for me. I felt like I was "doing something" for those whose lives had been dramatically changed by one angry Kansas storm.
After eleven days, the food was moved to Hesston Hay and Forage. It was strange to once again have the church back to "normal". I missed the activity, the people, and the sharing of feelings, tears, and stories.
Since the Food Pantry moved, I have done a bit of office work for Evelyn Rouner, Coordinator of the Disaster Center.
We lived at 117 S. Main. (We’ve moved to Newton now since owner is selling the house.) My wife works at Hesston Community Child Care. She was home during the tornado. I was at Prairie View and our son was on a scout trip to Wichita.
When I got home I volunteered at the station and went with crews down Main to check each home.
Later the first night I was with Dr. Shane of Prairie View (Chaplain to Harvey Co. Sheriff) and we went back and forth to High School with support and communication. We helped some families get reunited.
Wednesday my wife and I brought food and water from our house to the Day Care. We had utilities and they didn’t. Meals were served from the Day Care for several days to workers and survivors.
On Thursday and Friday the chaplains of Prairie View were in Hesston. Two were at the clothing distribution site, three at the food. I helped unpack, organize and distribute food. We also took time to hear people’s stories and offer care.
Sunday we organized food collection at First Baptist Church, Newton. We especially collected cookies and pop— items that went quickly from the food centers. We called the effort "Being the Sweet Church".
In the next week I came back to Prairie View to work.
I attended the de-briefing of emergency workers led by Dr. Shane in Hesston, taking notes for him.
—Dale Pracht
We did not do that much in re' to the tornado. It was such a helpless felling to sit with candles and a battery
radio (thanks to my teenager and his "jam box"), and hear reports of damage and not know which of our friends and
neighbors were affected. We watched it go by us and shortly after it killed Mrs. Voth. If one can only know. We
had neighbors over who had no lights or radio. When the husband got home and told us about the Schmidt Dairies it
started becoming more real. Tom Bunn, Neal (my husband) and Nathan (son) went over to the Dairies and helped finish getting cows gathered, etc. We had to work the next day, but the day after Nathan and I went to the Voth farm to look for papers and sift through what little was there for small mementos as pictures, a toy, a Christmas decoration, a few wet, muddy clothes. There was so little to retrieve there.
Neal spent a day in Hesston shingling and helping with some building, hauling limbs and trash away with the truck.
Nathan went to the Schmidts for half a day to help clear things up. He had some reluctance to help after that. He's quite sensitive and doesn’t share this thoughts and feelings easily, so I’m not sure what that was about.
I went to Schmidts half a day to wash walls in the house, clean straw out of the clothes washer/dryer, etc. The rest of that day I went to the Hesston College church to sort donated items and do whatever needed to be done there.
Through our Sunday School class at Faith Church we helped replace items for a couple in class whose home was heavily damaged and burned. We also donated some money.
I'm also aware that Tom and Connie Bunn from Tabor Church took their "tree truck" to Hesston and chopped and cut limbs and trees one day. I’m not sure what else they contributed.
—Arlys Schwabauer, Rt. 2, Box 189, Newton
You have requested some documentation of our involvement in the after-math of the tornado. Basically, I volunteered a couple of hours at Hesston to do some counseling. There was also additional indirect involvement with a number of Prairie View staff who live in Hesston and had had homes destroyed or other losses, as well as some involvement with patients I have who live in Hesston and dealing with their feelings about the tornado.
—Mary Carman, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist
The Tornado
By Hannah Livengood Photos supplied by the author
Used by permission of Margorie Waybill, Editor, Story Friends. Vol. 86, No. 1. Published by Mennonite Publishing House.
Hi! My name is Hannah Livengood. I am nine years old. I live in Hesston, Kansas, with my parents, Ken and Gale, and my big brother, Coiy. Cory is twelve.
On March 13, 1990, a tornado hit our house. The weather was warm and sunny so Cory and I were outside playing with our friends. Someone had a radio that gave the weather and police reports. First they said, “Harvey County
Hannah and her family
(where I live) is under a tornado watch.” Next they said “Harvey County is under a tornado warning!” Cory and I ran to the house and told Mom. She was baking cookies because Cory’s birthday was the next day. Dad was getting ready to go out because our family was invited to eat with friends. Suddenly we heard the siren blow. We stood on the porch for a while and watched the black clouds coming. Then we heard the second siren. We quickly went next door because we didn’t have a basement. (In a tornado a basement is the safest place.) We stood upstairs with our neighbors and watched the tor nado for a while. Then we went to the downstairs bathroom and closed the door. We all prayed. Soon there was no electricity. We heard crashing and banging! My ears felt weird like the tornado was going to suck them up.
Suddenly it was very still and quiet. Thank God we were all together! We went upstairs. First I saw the car, then the house. I cried. People hugged us. I had butterflies in my stomach. The police and ambulance came to see that everyone was out of the buildings and was okay. Many of our friends came to
see us and our house.
Soon the police said, “There is another tornado watch. Clear the streets.” Because our friends, the Chupps, were standing with us, we went with them to their house. When we got there Amy and I tried to keep our minds on Barbie dolls but we couldn’t. Leanna, a college girl who was also at the Chupps, was listening to a headset. We went to the basement. Finally we heard an all clear signal.
Randall and Cindy Loucks, friends from our church, called and offered us a place to stay. Dad and Mr. Chupp had , gone over to our house to try and get some things out of the rain so Mr. Loucks came to get Mom, Cory, and me. Everything was dark because there was still no electricity. Cindy had supper for us but I couldn’t eat. I was too sad. When Dad came from the house he
brought some of our things in a bag. He had one of my dolls. I was so happy!
I cleaned the insulation and mud off of her.
I went to bed in a nightgown I borrowed from Amy but I didn t sleep much. No one in our family slept much. During the night I remembered Cory’s fish and wondered what had happened to it.
The next day was cleanup day and Cory’s birthday. My friends helped me sort through the pile of stuff in my room. There was no ceiling or back wall in our rooms. Everything was muddy, wet, and covered with insulation, glass, plaster, and wood splinters. Many people helped us move our things. Our goldfish was still living even though the fishbowl had been pierced with something and had only one inch of water left.
Hannah and Matt Kauffman sorting through Hannah’s belongings.
That evening everyone was tired and dirty but we had moved all of our belongings into Loucks’ basement and some garages. We lived in Loucks’ basement for three months. Many people helped us with gifts of money, toys, and clothing. Then we bought a house on another street in Hesston.
I am not worried about another tornado because the sirens are across the street. But if I hear them I know where to go.
Tornadoes are not fun like in the Wizard of Oz. I found that out.
Hannah and her friend Amy together.
I was in Arlington, Texas when the tornado hit Hesston. I heard nothing about it 'til the man I was staying with received a phone call from Hesston informing us of the tragedy and assuring us that both of our families were safe. I couldn't reach my wife by phone 'til 5am the next morning for lines being tied up with family members calling from all over the country.
God bless,
Ken Strong Assistant Pastor
Hesston Inter-Mennonite Fellowship
Though it was barely sunrise, the debris-filled streets were already crawling with victims and helpers. With only a couple hours of respite, and some not even that, folks were already about the task of searching the mounds of rubble looking for buried treasures in what had only hours before been their homes. A picture here and there. An item of clothing. Tools. Anything that could be salvaged was early grabbed. Hesston, Kansas: a proud, little town on the prairie. Burrton, Kansas: another modest village a few miles southwest, and dozens of arm homes in-between.
All melted into piles of broken dreams because of a monster tornado.
I had to have a personal sense of the trauma, it’s just the way I work best; so I left the command post in Hesston
to follow the tornado’s wicked path and see for myself the stupendous power of such a storm.
As I walked along these streets, I wondered through my own memories to try to weave old personal stories into this current drama. I remembered how in 1955, when Udall was blown away, my camp physical was cancelled because my physician was summoned to that community to provide care. It was only a story, then, to me. A minor inconvenience. I had no personal understanding of what it meant to lose everything. In the spring of 1965, when a tornado threatened Wichita, my wife and I took shelter in our apartment's basement only to watch a terrified neighbor crouched in the corner out of dread that the sky might unleash its horror all over us. The summer before his home
in Iowa had been destroyed by a tornado and that memory still lingered in his heart.
I had a hard time not feeling superior to him. After all, I wasn’t frightened. But then, I had no point of reference. Once again, it seemed to impersonal and so I could not appreciate the magnitude of such a thing. Today, however, it all made sense, because I stood in the dead center of a tornado’s destruction and I heard the soft weeping of those who lost everything.
I walked carefully through the tornado's evil path and was appalled at the destruction. Whole homes were gone. Only pieces of walls stood over empty basements. A multi-colored tapestry of treasures littered whole blocks. Twisted bicycles, broken T.V. sets, crushed tables and chairs, soiled and soaked carpets and clothing lay huddled in
wet heaps. Appliances were battered. Cars were ripped open. What had once been centers of warmth and love were
but splintered memories of houses. Bright pink shards of insulation hung like Christmas tree decorations from what remained of the trees which were also broken and twisted like so many spindly pieces of wood.
Deep gray clouds hovered just overhead and a cold mist occasionally sprayed the devastation. The sharp north wind
seemed to add one more injustice. I scrunched deeper into my coat and walked on. At every turn, one more awesome surprise awaited me.
In one backyard, halfway up in a tree lay the crumpled remains of a Volkswagen. Someplace else, a whole semitrailer truck filled with grain lay upside down. Here and there, whole cars were upside down as if the tornado mocked us all with its utter disregard for all that matters to us and large buildings were crumpled as if they were but fragile flower petals. I do not understand such power.
I could not fully understand how a town could be okay and then within seconds be in shambles. I felt as if I were walking deep inside a mystery and I still didn’t understand it. Even so, as I walked among the remnants. I knew a strange mixture of awe at the unyielding power of this storm, and sadness as I looked about while families stoically milled about their ruins trying to pick up the pieces and put even a little bit of their lives back together again.
In its own way, it was so overwhelming that it was impersonal. The destruction was so massive and overpowering that it made no sense. What did make sense were the personal stories of unknown folks. Maybe its always been true that the greatest deeds of all are those carried out by ordinary folks who simply do their jobs in extraordinary circumstances. An in so doing, there we see the reality of it all.
As I walked about the fields of broken dreams, I remembered my experience the night before. From the relatively high vantage point of Exit 33 on 1-135, I looked northbound on my way home and saw the massive, black, rumbling column of horror as it churned toward Hesston. Seconds later, I heard 904 say calmly, "Call Chaplain Shane and have him come to Burrton. We have a Code Yellow."
While on the way there, I watched as the sky once again deepened and another ominous, low mass began to circle and
see the overhead. For yet one more time, the angry heavens spit forth their fury and ripped and shredded everything
in its way as a second tornado twisted through.
Later as I drove on toward this second tornado to help track its path, I heard 911 say, "when you have time, would
you have someone check my home? I believe it took a direct hit. I'll continue on to check other homes in the path."
A truth spoken so matter of factly by an officer doing his job while his own country home blew away.
There are really very few authentic heroes in the world. But what ones there are, are decent people who reach down inside themselves and do what has to be done because its their job. They do so privately and others rarely know.
Indeed, 911's home was destroyed. Absolutely and totally. Every piece of it was tumbled into the adjacent fields and nearby woods. "It's okay to write about this, 606, just so long as you don’t make it into something it isn’t.
I’m just a regular guy doing my job. Any, anyway, though I knew my home was gone, I knew my family was safely out
of town. I don’t really know that I’d have done, though, if they would’ve been there. Maybe I would’ve gone to be with them instead.” Maybe so, but who could blame him.
As I heard 911 ask that his home be checked, I remembered other moments of his which were equally private, equally routine, yet blessed by the reality that without regard for his personal well-being, he went about his job. In so doing, he represents the best of all in law enforcement.
Tragedies are all so unique and the individual resources of persons are equally so personal that comparisons are useless. But to lose everything one owns surely stands as monumental as any loss. So it was for 911 and hundreds of others last March. In the twinkling of an eye, the dreams of years came crashing down.
The silence that follows such a time is deep and empty. Gone forever are the little pieces of things and memories which, when woven together, create the very fabric of one’s life. How can it be that one’s dreams vanish so quickly? How can such good and decent people know such terror?
There were others in law enforcement who, though their lives were battered and bruised, too, nevertheless measured
up. That’s the mark of courage: to be a victim who nevertheless lives beyond the pain for the sake of one’s
commitments. Though dramatic in its essence, 911’s story is not unique. Other officers from other cities were dispatched to help. The National Guard answered the call. And all are common folk who live inside the same dreams as anyone else.
To measure up when it counts and never give up when hurt is a splendid resource. But even ordinary heroes have
their moments. To look about your own place and see that all about you are but pieces of your dreams is a difficult
task. If we could have saved one album. Or one child’s school treasure. Or the last letter from a loved one. If
only we could have held them one last time...but who could know how fragile are any of our dreams and how easily
they melt away.
Tom Shane
Chaplain Supervisor Prairie View, Inc.
Disaster coordinator's office to close
The Hesston Record, Thursday, May 17,
The coordinator’s office of the Hesston Disaster Center will close May 18, according to Evelyn Rouner, coordinator.
The Food Pantry closed May 10. Services are still available at various churches and city offices.
Some sheets, blankets and comforters have been stored in the United Methodist Church for anyone who still needs them. Call the church office before stopping in.
According to Salvation Army
representatives, funds are still available for storm victims. For information on the various services and items available, contact the Salvation Army office in Newton at 208 W. 6th.
• Financial aid applications are also available at the five city church offices, and may be returned to the same office.
Lost and found articles are now located in the KG&E Building. A key may be secured from the city office across the street. More items have been found so victims may want to look again.
Pictures, videos, stories and clippings are still being sought for the Hesston Public Library archives.
Rouner said that persons wanting to thank Freda Spena for the toys that Hesston children received around Easter time can write her at the following: Freda Spena, 424 Main, Wakeeney, Ks. 67672.
Aid approved for tornado victims

The Newton Kansan, Friday, May 18,
WASHINGTON (AP) — A congressional negotiating com-mittee has approved $2.5-million in federal aid for Kansas communities damaged by tornadoes in March, Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan. said Thursday.
Approval came as a House-Senate conference committee worked toward an agreement on an emergency spending bill that includes aid sought by President Bush for Nicaragua
president to be signed into law.
Dole said the disaster relief is for Kansas communities damaged by March 13 tornadoes. The money will be provided through an Economic
Development Administration program. Among other things, Dole said, the money can be used for street repair and downtown renovation in the communities.
and Panama.
The conference committee is responsible for resolving differences between the House and Senate on additional spending for a host of programs in the current budget year.
The House and Senate must approve the final version of the spending bill written by the negotiating committee. If passed by Congress, the measure would then go to the
Community service set for June 3
The Hesston Record, Thursday, May 31, 1990,
“Thanksgiving at Pentecost,” a community service of praise and sharing sponsored by Hesston Ministerial Association, will be held June 3 at Hesston Mennonite Church, 309 S. Main.
A carry-in picnic supper will begin at 6 p.m. on the Hesston College lawn at the back of the church. In case of rain, the picnic will be in the church fellowship hall.
Persons should bring sandwiches, chips and cookies and table
service, as well as blankets or lawn chairs. Hot and cold drinks will be provided.
The program, starting about 7 p.m. in the church auditorium, will focus on response and recovery from the March 13 tornado in light of Pentecost. The program will include prayers, congregational singing, worship music, a time of open sharing and brief comments by a few ministers.
The entire community is invited to this special service.
Dare to dream, Hesston
There was much work left to be done to clean up rubble from the tremendously powerful tornado that ripped apart Hesston last week.
But many Hesstonians paused Sunday to attend church and give thanks to their Creator that there were no serious injuries and for pulling them through a devastating experience. They were truly celebrations of survival in the local churches.
As the Rev. Rick Saylor eloquently explained: “The winds of courage and a caring spirit exceed even the wind of the tornado.
“We have survived not only physically, but our spirit has survived as well. Yes, we are hurting and suffering. But we are also filled with hope. And we are moving on.”
Saylor noted: “This week we have seen a God with skin” --in the form of the hundreds of volunteers who poured into Hesston to help with the cleanup, and in the form of family and neighbors offering food, shelter and comfort.
Trucks, equipment and manpower quickly appeared from other communities, selflessly and untiringly literally helping to pickup the pieces.
Aid and well wishes have poured in from all around the world. It has helped to sustain us and nourish our spirit.
There have been meetings for residents who were victims, in an effort to help guide their recovery, and for members of the business sector, who have some major decisions to make concerning any comeback they hope to make.
Throughout it all, the spirit and determination have been little short of amazing.
Dare to dream, Hesston. Now is the time to do it. What do we want our community to belike years from now? What changes need to be made now to put us on the right course?
Hesston was a great place to live and work before the tornado. Let us take advantage of the opportunity to make some changes, if necessary, and make it an even better place.
To ignore the opportunity before us would be a greater tragedy than the storm that roared through town last week. Yes. we have been given a lemon. Let us turn it into lemonade.

The audit of the people of Hesston was one of the early tasks assumed by volunteers. Someone(s) prepared the form and a volunteer conducted the interviews. The names were then put into church groups and each assumed responsibility for their members and for others who did not appear on their lists.
Tornado Assistance Call
need source
Meals...........................High School until Tuesday
Canned food, kitchen supplies ..Whitestone Mennonite Basement
Clothing........................Hesston Mennonite Church 327-4885
Hesston High School 327-4931
Counseling......................Hesston Mennonite Church 327-4885
Whitestone Mennonite Church 327-4123
Financial Aid...................Hesston State Bank 327-4941
First Federal Savings 327-4241 Red Cross (High School) 327-4931
Laborers to volunteer or
secure..........................city Hall 327-4412
MDS, Middle School 327-4931
Insurance Claims................See Individual agents
Longer term housing
next week or month..............Dale Hochstetler and Roger Ratzloff
Childcare.......................Hesston InterMennonite Fellowship
(for homeless people or volunteers) 327-2101
Ron Guengerich - Whitestone Mennonite Church 327-4123 Home 327-2825
Rick Saylor - United Methodist Church 327-4305 Home 327-4845
Fred Obold - Hesston Mennonite Church 327-4885 Home 327-4435
Lynn Jost - Hesston Mennonite Brethren 327-2847 Home 327-2909
Herb Minnich - Inter-Mennonite Church 327-2101 Home 327-2828
The Resource List was one way information was circulated throughout the City of Hesston to inform everyone where there was assistance.
With homes destroyed and people uprooted they sometimes changed their addresses. The address forms could be kept and updated by churches, the city and the coordinator's office.
Disaster service
1. Greet each person with a smile, love and patience. (some persons are very
emotionally upset and may act in anger, tears or some other emotional outburst— although this has not happened very often)
2. Find outreach persons need and then direct them to the proper aid for them.
Offices to the right coming in are HOUSING OFFICES
1 Cor 13.
HESSTON DISASTER CENTER HFI — White Office Building 420 W. Lincoln Blvd.
Housing Suite 101 327-6441
Storage Information Suite 101 327-6441
Financial Aid Suite 105 327-6464
Ministerial Alliance/Counseling Service Suite 107 327-6443
Lost and Found Suite 109 327-6465
Salvation Army 208 W. 6th, Newton 283-3190
American Red Cross 707 N. Main St., Wichita 268-0800 268-6601
Food Pantry Suites 102
Clothing/Bedding/Kitchen Items 327-6476 Communication Center (behind HFI White Bldg., NW red door, basement)
Furniture Communication Center (behind HFI White Bldg., NW red door, 1st floor)
Building Permits City Building 112 E. Smith This form was updated every 327-4412 week and
The Pastor at InterMennonite Church developed this helpful memo for volunteers.
printed on a different color of paper and posted at all the churches and public places throughout the City.
In the Aftermath
Now that a week and more has passed since the disastrous tornado struck our counties, it is becoming apparent that many of us still have overwhelming feelings that must be dealt with. This is to be expected and all of us need to process those feelings, particularly those who were directly affected by the storm and those who assisted in rescue and cleanup.
To facilitate this process, Prairie View is offering a series of free informational/support meetings at various locations throughout the counties, as listed below. Topics of discussion will depend on the concerns of the persons present, but will include some of the following:
• Dealing with the fears of small children
• Barriers to decision-making
• "Survivor’s guilt" — feelings close neighbors and near victims may have about their good fortune
• Dealing with loss
• Coping with depression when it hits
• Finding constructive ways to deal with anger
These groups will be available at the following locations and times for the next four weeks, with followup meetings to be scheduled in 30, 60 and 90 days. Persons are welcome to join groups for a single session, or for all sessions. Please note, there is no charge for participation. No pre-enrollment is required.
Location: Communications Building, Hay and Forage
Date: Tuesdays, April 3 - April 24
Time: 7:30 - 9:00 p.m.
Location: Goessel High School Library Date: Tuesdays, April 3 - April 24
Time: 7:30 - 9:00 p.m.
Location: Burrton City Hall
Date: Tuesdays, April 3 - April 24
Time: 7:30 - 9:00 p.m.
Location: Inman Senior Center Date: Tuesdays, April 3 - April 24
Time: 7:30 - 9:00 p.m.
Other support services offered by Prairie View include:
• Agency consultation; i.e., preschools, public schools, nursing homes, etc.
• Consultation to churches
• Crisis intervention for individuals (including a free therapy hour, if needed)
• Also available from Prairie View are two flyers dealing with expected physical and emotional effects of such a trauma. For copies call the number listed below.
Please note, the above services have been designed in response to repeated requests from persons in the affected areas. They are being offered without cost to persons who need them.
For more information or to set up an appointment, contact:
Prairie View Mental Health Center
1901 East First Street Newton, KS 67114 1-800-362-0344
(Volunteer Prairie View clinical staff will be on hand to take calls during daytime and evening hours until April 9).
You have experienced a traumatic event or a critical incident (any incident that causes emergency service personnel to experience unusually strong emotional reactions which have the potential to interfere with their ability to function either at the scene or later). Even though the event may be over, you may now be experiencing or may experience later, some strong emotional or physical reactions. It is very common, in fact quite normal, for people to experience emotional aftershocks when they have passed through a horrible event.
Sometimes the emotional aftershocks (or stress reactions) appear immediately after the traumatic event. Sometimes they may appear a few hours or a few days later. And, in some cases, weeks or months may pass before the stress reactions appear.
The signs and symptoms of a stress reaction may last a few days, a few weeks or a few months, and occasionally longer, depending on the severity of the traumatic event. With understanding and the support of loved ones, the stress reactions usually pass more quickly. Occasionally the traumatic event is so painful that professional assistance from a counselor may be necessary. This does not imply craziness or weakness. It simply indicates that the particular event was just too powerful for the persons to manage by themselves.
Here are some very common signs and signals of a stress reaction.
Physical Cognitive Emotional Behavioral
fatigue nausea muscle tremors twitches chest pain * * difficulty breathing * elevated blood pressure rapid heart rate thirst headaches visual difficulties vomiting grinding of teeth weakness dizziness profuse sweating chills shock symptoms * fainting etc. blaming someone confusion poor attention poor decisions heightened or lowered alertness poor concentration memory problems hypervigilance difficulty identifying familiar objects or people increased or decreased awareness of surroundings poor problem solving poor abstract thinking loss of time, place or person orientation disturbed thinking nightmares intrusive images etc. anxiety guilt grief denial severe panic (rare) emotional shock fear uncertainty loss of emotion control depression inappropriate emotional response apprehension feeling overwhelmed intense anger irritability agitation etc. change in activity change in speech patterns withdrawal emotional outbursts suspiciousness change in usual communications loss or increase of appetite alcohol consumption inability to rest antisocial acts nonspecific bodily complaints hyperalert to environment startle reflex intensified pacing erratic movements change in sexual functioning etc.
* Definite indication of the need for medical evaluation
** Please note, this sheet is used nationally in critical incident stress debriefing. For additional copies of this flyer, call Prairie View, 1-800-362-0344.
These informative sheets were distributed by Prairie View. They were printed on large pieces of buff colored paper and distributed to everyone.
In the Aftermath ...____________________________
March 13, 1990, is indelibly carved in the memory of Harvey, Marion and McPherson counties. We have pulled together up to this point to pick up the pieces. It affects us all -- the neighbors and friends, and most of all the persons whose lives have been fragmented by direct tornado hits. Deep down all of us know that the real grief, the horrible sense of loss and vulnerability, as individuals and as a community, must still be dealt with on a long-term basis.
Phases of Dealing with Trauma ...
Remember, such a traumatic event as we have experienced is much like a death in its impact. Persons immediately involved in the tragedy can expect the following psychological phases to occur.
Shock - This is the stage of the initial trauma. Everyone is around. Helping. . . doing what they can. And the full reality has not hit. There is a kind of protective numbness surrounding us.
Aftershock - This is the phase when people and networks begin to mentally process the traumatic experiences, recognize how close they and those they love came to death, and become fully aware of the real and potential destruction to their community and near environment. At this stage, one can expect to face emerging questions about faith. Why did this happen? Where was God? These feelings, along with feelings of anger and depression, are normal. It is very important to fully process whatever feelings emerge at this point.
Avoidance - This involves a method of coping with the overwhelming and frightening reactions of the two previous phases. It can be useful in a limited way, but it is important that it not be used as a long-term crutch to avoid facing the painful reality.
Reconsideration - This phase finally emerges at some point during the avoidance phase, and the individual or family is now ready to deal concretely with the results of the trauma. It is a time to deal with the reality in a way that allows life to continue.
What You Can Expect to Experience . . .
Severe stress and trauma almost uniformly produce a characteristic set of emotional and physical reactions. These symptoms include:
□ restlessness □ irritability
□ excessive fatigue □ sleep disturbances
□ anxiety □ startle reactions
□ depression □ moodiness
□ difficulties concentrating □ nightmares
□ anger □ survivor’s guilt
□ inability to forget the
frightening event
Please note that these physical and emotional symptoms which develop as part of a stress response are considered normal. They develop in most people facing traumatic stress, including the victims of the disaster and the helpers. These possible responses need to be acknowledged and processed, and a professional support system can be a critical element in dealing with the problem directly.
Where Help is Available . . .
In all of the above stages, neighbors, friends and various community resources are important parts of the process. Don’t hesitate to seek the help you need. Many, many community resources have been mobilized to help in this time of crisis. Below is a list of numbers to call when help is needed. Don’t hesitate to call.
In Hesston call:
Whitestone Mennonite Church, 327-4123 Coordinators: Rev. Ron Guengerich, Rev. Phil Harrington
Hesston Mennonite Church, 327-4885 Coordinator Rev. Fred Obold
All other calls should be directed to:
Prairie View, 1-800-362-0344
Volunteers from Prairie View staff will handle calls.
(Answered daytime and evening hours)
2:00 - 5:30 P.M. MON. - FRI.
3:30 - NOON SAT.

ROOM 101
Phone: 327-6441
ROOM 107
Phone: 327-6443
VOLUNTEERS ROOM 111 Phone: 327-6466
Two informative handouts for distribution to everyone -From Prairie View.
One volunteer made large signs to identify the offices in the White Office building which served as the headQuarters for tornado victim services.
American Red Cross
Midway-Kansas Chapter
707 North Main Wichita. Kansas 67203-5669 (316) 265-6601
effective 4 p.m. Friday, March 30
All disaster victims needing assistance after 4 p.m.
Friday, March 30, should direct their calls to:
Midway-Kansas Chapter American Red Cross 707 N. Main
Wichita, Kansas 67203
Office Hours 8 - 4:30 p.m.
Monday - Friday
Area Code 316, 268-0800 or 265-6601
Persons may call collect, identifying themselves as Tornado Victims, and ask to be directed to the Disaster Department or Disaster Caseworker.
All families in any county affected by the March 13, 1990 Tornado have been considered eligible for Red Cross Disaster Services. Total assistance to individuals and families through the close of business on Thursday,
March 29, 1990 is $84,374.00. All Disaster Assistance is Free.
American Cross Midway-Kansas Chapter
707 North Main Wichita, Kansas 67203-669 (516) 265-6601
April 27, 1990
Evelyn Rouner Hesston Disaster Center 420 W. Lincoln Blvd.
Hesston, Kansas
Dear Mrs. Rouner:
After speaking to you by telephone this past Thursday I thought you should have this in writing. Farmer's Home Administration and Small Business Administration are now available as resources for disaster victims of the March 13 tornados. We feel that all families who have additional disaster caused needs should apply for assistance from these agencies. This allows each family to participate in their recovery efforts. The Red Cross is still available to discuss with victims their further needs if they are not eligible for FHA/SBA assistance, or that assistance is insufficient. We can be reached in Wichita at 268-0800. They should identify themselves as disaster victims when asking to speak to one of our workers.
If you have questions or comments please call me at your convenience.
Mike Wemmer, Manager Emergency Social Services
American Red Cross
The Office of Communications
707 N. Main
Wichita, Kansas 67203-3669 316/268-0857 or 316 265-6601
TO: Pastors, Central Kansas Churches in "March 13 Tornado" Areas
FROM: Office of Communications
DATE: March 21, 1990
SUBJECT: Request for Pulpit Announcement on Sunday, March 25
We are requesting your assistance in helping us to ensure that all victims of the rash of Central Kansas tornadoes on Tuesday, March 13, are aware of the availability of American Red Cross disaster relief and where and when to make Red Cross contact for this help.
We would sincerely appreciate your making the following announcement from your pulpit at services on Sunday, March 25:
Tornado victims who need possible Red Cross assistance, including renT for temporary housing and such items as clothing, bedding and linens, basic household furniture and appliances, food, eyeglasses, prescriptions and other medical needs, occupational supplies, and minor home repairs, are encouraged to contact the Red Cross by the close of business on Tuesday, March 27.
You may contact any of the following for additional information on disaster assistance:
• HESSTON — Red Cross Disaster Relief Service Center
420 W. Lincoln
316/327-6474 • 316/327-6455 • 316/327-6485
• WICHITA — Red Cross Disaster Services
707 N. Main St.
316/268-0800 • 316/265-6601
• Or your local or area American Red Cross chapter.
All Red Cross disaster assistance is FREE — without charge — and available to victims because of generous donations. It is a gift from Kansans and other Americans across the United States.
Pastor, if you have questions, please do not hesitate to cell us at 316/265-0657 or 316/265-6601. Thank you!
These are memos from Red Cross Excellent networking.
c/o Hesston Ministerial Alliance 420 W. Lincoln Blvd. Hesston, KS 67062
We gratefully acknowledge the amount of _$________________________
given to the Hesston Tornado Victims Fund. To date about 170 families from five counties have received financial aid, 30 families have contacted the center for housing assistance, 330 families have received food from the food pantry and countless others have received clothing and furniture.
Thank you for your compassion and generosity.
on behalf of the Hesston Disaster Center HESSTON MINISTERIAL ALLIANCE
Our best estimate is approximately 1400 thank you letters were sent. This cost was assumed by the Administration Fund which was set up. Funds received for the Tornado Victims were used only as designated in the Financial Committee Policy and Criteria.
HESSTON DISASTER CENTER c/o Hesston Ministerial Alliance 420 W. Lincoln Blvd.
Hesston, KS 67062
The Coordinator's Office CLOSES MAY 18. The Food Pantry closed May 10th.
When you unpack your bedding and you find you need to replace some sheets, blankets or comforters - We reserved some and they are stored in the United Methodist Church. You may go there and make your selections. Please call the Church Office 327-4305 to make sure someone is there.
The Salvation Army has written to all tornado victims whose address they had but I'm finding they did not have everyone's address - so your Church Office has a copy of that letter which speaks to needs they will still address.
If you need a Financial Aid Application, they are available at any one of the five City Church Offices. You may return the completed application to that office.
The lost and found articles are in the KG and E Building across from City Offices. You may secure a key from the City Office. More items have been found so do go and look again.
The Library is waiting for your contributions to the Hesston Public Library Archives. If you have pictures, videos, stories, clippings etc. be sure to share them with the Library and Community.
If you would like to thank Freda Spena for the toy(s) your children received around Easter time - her address is: Freda Spena; 424 Main ; WaKeeney Ks 67672.
Thank you for your cooperation, sharing, and giving. I've enjoyed my time with you as coordinator for the Hesston Ministerial Alliance. Much thanks is expressed to this group for their sensitivity, tireless energy, and many untold stories and actions these past weeks.
Thank you for your hours of volunteer service at the Hesston Disaster Center.
I've appreciated the opportunity to renew old friendships and to meet new friends as we served others. Your cheerful willingness and benevolent attitude were most important.
I thank you for your faithfulness.
Coordinator for Hesston Ministerial Alliance
Thank you notes were sent to volunteers
This is a sample of several letters sent by the coordinator to tornado victims whenever changes occurred.
The following is one of the letters sent to churches and city offices in the 100 mile strip of the tornado:
May 18, 1990
Dear Fellow Travelers,
This is the last day this office will be open. We have tried to keep you informed through the weeks of the availability of services and the times when certain services were closed. We are enclosing the last copy of the letter sent by the Kansas City Salvation Army Office to tornado victims. I have finally been able to discover why many people did not know of their services —they were not on the "magic list" which no one seems to own! Please let people know in your area.
We are also including the Library Brochure which Chris Buller has prepared along with a local committee. This is an opportunity to collect your stories in one place!
You will also find a copy of the Financial Aid Application. Please feel free to make copies for anyone who still needs to apply and have them send it as soon as possible to Dale Hochstetler, Chair of Finance Committee for Ministerial Alliance, Tornado Victims Fund, 2601 N. Anderson, Box 454, Newton, Kansas, 67114.
Lost and Found Articles are still being found—they are now in the KG&E Building across from City Hall on Smith Street in Hesston. Pick up the key from the City Offices.
We have received over $295,000 in the Tornado Victims Fund. We are still requesting contributions. Many people are just now applying— their insurance settlements are being made now. Others just now have the courage to make a request.
Thank you for your cooperation. Please do send in your story—see enclosure. It has been a privilege and my pleasure to work with you.
Evelyn Rouner Coordinator

March 13, 1990, 5:42 p.m..

JUL 01 '91
JUL 23 '91
AUG 9 '91
JUL 09 '93
JUL 23 '93
ILL APR 26 '94
Mar 20 1998 For use in Library only
MAY 28 2004

#47-0108 Peel Off Pressure Sensitive
T 26389
P.0. BOX 640

Coordinator’s Report By Evelyn Rouner February 1991
The Happening.....................1-34
The Helping Response .......... 35-108
People Coping..................109-124
Sharing Stories................125-143
Dream On, Hesston..................144
With appreciation to the following newspaper for granting permission to use articles included in this report:
The Hesston Record The Hutchinson News The Ledger—Moundridge The Mennonite Weekly Review The Newton Kansan The Wichita Eagle
Copyright 1991 Hesston Ministerial Alliance
Printed by Jim Bartel, Prestige Printing, Hesston, Kansas
Experiences which are truly significant in our personal and corporate lives are told neither quickly nor easily. This scrapbook is an attempt to facilitate our looking back to the weeks and months that followed the March 13 storm system.
Within days of the March 13 storm system the pastors of the Hesston Ministerial Alliance recognized that the required coordinating tasks surpassed our time and energy. Pastoral and administrative tasks within the congregations were obviously compounded by the storm.
After considerable prayer and search, Evelyn Rouner was asked to serve as Tornado Coordinator of the Hesston Ministerial Alliance. Evelyn, church secretaries and hundreds of volunteers served the community in countless ways.
Evelyn Rouner compiled articles from newspapers between March 13 and early June. Although the storm is over, our experiences will long be remembered. A scrapbook format has integrity in helping us remember the common struggle that followed.
Although "coffee table" publications of the storm have appeared in recent months, this collection is different.
In many ways the book will always be a "working copy." Thank you, Evelyn, you have given us datelines and an avenue in which to add our thoughts and hopes.
Frederick J. Obold, President Hesston Ministerial Alliance January 1991
The desks were cleared, the papers boxed, signs and labels taken down, the garage sale left-overs recycled and the volunteers were gone. I was left with many thoughts, learnings, and feelings as I returned the keys to the Hay and Forage Industries Main Office.
Every attempt to write a coordinator's report to the Hesston Ministerial Alliance failed. As I struggled, one idea kept reoccurring. A scrapbook could provide a way of reporting with the most integrity. Sharing what really happened in the coordinator's office and other offices. Allowing others to have their own voice in the report seemed right. And so the sorting, selecting, cutting, pasting and categorizing started and soon grew to over 100 pages of copy.
It was time to check with the Ministerial Alliance. I was overcome by their acceptance and encouragement. They decided people in the community would also want copies. They recommended 30 copies be printed and placed in public places where the people of the community would have opportunity to see the report. If there is sufficient interest, consideration will be given to print more copies.
This report reflects the coordinator's perception, experience, and feelings. Some editing has been done, but every effort was made to present an accurate account. The report will be printed on one side of the page leaving the blank side for adding other materials e.g., clippings, pictures, letters, etc, which an institution, family/and or individual may wish to include making it a more complete report for them.
Preparation of this report was postponed until after the Holidays. As I started working, I experienced another period of grieving. It was not an easy task, but the healing came as I kept working and still continues. You may have a similar experience. May I recommend reading Sara Peterson's article entitled "Emotional Scars May Last a Long Time" found in "The Happening" section of this scrapbook.
Thank you Hesston Ministerial Alliance for giving me this opportunity to work with you. Thank you to many people known and unknown for your caring, sharing, humor, trusting and giving of yourselves as we worked together. I felt the presence of God moment by moment—as many heard me say, I was surrounded by ministering angels.
Evelyn I. Rouner
Prof takes reins of ongoing relief effort
Ongoing tornado relief efforts are being coordinated through the guidance of a local college instructor. Evelyn Rouner.
The Cohvich resident recently took over efforts of the Hesston Disaster Center - which is no small task.
That means she takes on respon-sibility for overseeing the service of financial aid. housing and stor-age. Counseling services through the Ministerial Alliance and liaison Ron Guengcrich, a food pantry and kitchen items, a lost and found, clothing and furniture.
The finance committee alone has dispersed roughly $87,000 as of the first two weeks following the tornado. This compares to the committee's estimate of about $750,000 in uninsured losses
Two dozen families have sought help in finding housing through
the housing committee, and 325 families have received food from the food pantry.
Mennonite Disaster Service volunteers have expended roughly 00.000 hours in volunteer cleanup and rebuilding efforts through the coordination of the disaster center.
Sound like a lot of responsibility? Yes.
But Rouner can handle it with effectiveness.
Over the years, Rouner taught economics and sociology for six years at Hesston College, from 1950-1956.
She has a doctorate in human growth and development and in family studies.
She taught 22 years at Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., as administrator and professor of family courses in human growth and development.
After retiring, she went on to Goshen College as a professor and director of continuing education. She also served as public relations representative and researcher of the senior center at Greencroft Inc.
Rouner moved to Colwich to be near family living in Wichita.
Presently she teaches a course on ministry of the aging at Hesston College, and she is president of the Colwich library board.
So one could say she has the credentials for effectively working with people and handling her disaster relief tasks.
She even has first-hand experience of surviving the tornado.
Rouner was still in Hesston working on her class assignments at the residence of Howard and Tami Keim, 209 N. Weaver, when the sirens went off in the early evening hours of March 13, warning that a tornado was spotted and heading toward town.
Little did she know while tucked
safely into the basement of the Keim residence that the tornado ripped apart rows of houses just a block to the north of where she’d taken cover.
Having witnessed the destruction. Rouner can relate to the victims - in a personal way.
According to Rouner, office hours for the disaster center will be 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and from 8:30 a.m.-noon on Saturdays.
Many offices will begin consolidating as demand slacks off, Rouner said.
For instance, housing, counseling, lost and found, Ministerial Alliance, Mennonite Disaster Service and food pantry needs will be handled through one central location, at suite 101, at the Hay & Forage Industries white office building, 420 W. Lincoln Blvd. The one telephone number offered for all of these services is 327-6441.
Financial aid will continue to be handled separately, through suite 105, phone 327-6464.
Counseling can also be sought through suite 105. 327-6443, or 1-800-362-0344.
Clothing and furniture can be picked up at the communications building, located behind the white office building, she commented.
Although they have left. Hesston, help is still available through the American Red Cross by calling 268-0800 or 268-6601, or through the Salvation Army at 283-3190.
The Red Cross has thus far dispersed $84,374 in aid to tornado victims.
Rouner said that some victims have been reluctant to apply for Red Cross help, fearing there is a charge to them to use assistance vouchers. There is no charge to the victim for use of this service, Rouner stated.
And finally, Rouner noted there is emergency assistance available through the Social & Rehabilitation Services (SRS) in Newton for victims applying within 30 days of the tornado disaster.
There is a lot of work to be done as a coordinator of such a relief effort, Rouner acknowledged.
Some victims of the five-county area are just now learning that Hesston’s relief services are for everyone, in a centralized Hesston office location.
“We offer help to victims in a 100-mile area, not just Hesston,” she clarified.
Officials at Prairie View Mental Health Center in Newton acknowledge that some victims - perhaps those suffering from shock or perhaps from pride in having to ask for help - are just now beginning to surface and seek aid.
Offices may be consolidated, or some services trimmed. But, Rouner emphasized, disaster help will be out there and available as long as there are victims in need.

VoI. 58. No. 14
Thursday. April 5. 1990
DONNA KOEHN, Administrative Assistant,
Whitestone Mennonite Church Since Pastor Ron Guengerich served as liaison for HMA and the Coordinator's Office, Donna typed our minutes and carried out other related duties.
She also typed material, prepared volunteer thank you notes, copied Newspaper articles, etc.
She gave many hours of time helping in the final assembly of the Coordinator's Report.
KAREN UNRUH, Administrative Assistant, United Methodist Church Karen faithfully prepared the recipient lists for the Financial Aid Committee. UMCOR provided extra funds, and Karen extended her hours to assist the H.F.I. Coordinator's Office. She typed, assisted in analyzing data and spent hours making copies of Newspaper articles for the scrap book report.
BARBARA MARTIN, Administrative Assistant, Hesston Mennonite Church Barb served in many capacities after the tornado. The church was the first place where clothing was donated—she directed this service. Pastor Obold was new in the community so Barb played many roles assisting him. She also extended her help to the HFI office—typing, running copies of materials,
i i i
While the offices at Hay and Forage Industries were attending to many people needs; other offices were attending to different kinds of people needs. As coordinator, it was my privilege to work with John Waltner, Mayor of Hesston as the liaison with the City of Hesston. The City Hall Receptionist, Heidi Zielke, was most helpful in helping to maintain our lines of communication.
City Officials At The Time of the March 13th Tornado
Jay Wieland - City Manager John Waltner - Mayor
LuAlan Willems - City Council President
Howard Wohlgemuth - Council Member
Bob Davis - Council Member
Jaryl Ollenburger - Council Member
Maynard Herron - Council Member
Jean Krehbill - City Clerk
Dick Toews - Ambulance Chief
Russ Buller - Ambulance and Fire Department Member Weldon Bachman - Fire Chief Jon Friesen - Ambulance/EMT Director Roger Ratzlaff - H.A.E.D.C.
Bob Prouty - Street Supervisor Kirk Matz - Utilities Supervisor Marlow Unruh - Park Supervisor Randy Bachman - Golf Course Supervisor Mickey DeHook - Chief of Police Heidi Zielke - Secretary/Receptionist Polly Mains - Office
Lyle Bitikofer - Assistant Fire Chief Ivan Welty - Assistant AMB Chief
Planning Commission Howard Brenneman, President Kent Henson, Vice President Ron Peters Marv Schmucker Stan Clark Keith Pfautz Randy Stauffer
Other Officials who Assisted
Lon Buller - Harvey County Emergency Preparedness Phil Kloster - City Manager, Newton Kansas Jim Jackson, Asst. Fire Chief - Newton Ks.
Jim Werries - Ambulance Chief, Newton Ks.
George Westfall - Kansas Highway Patrol Bruce Joliff - Detective, Newton Ks.
Tim Richards - Area Manager KG&E,
Alan Prieb - Area Manager, United Telephone

A powerful tornado, reportedly packing wind force up to 250 miles an hour, rips through Hesston March 13. This picture, looking from Commercial Street west across Old 81, with Excel Industries at right, was taken by Wade Balzer. He is the son-in-law of Sue and Bill McGhee of Homestead Wood Products. Persons interested in purchasing this tornado picture should contact Balzer.

Guess what this is? This is a tornado in the U.S.A. It happened in Hesston which is in the state of Kansas. Over half the town was damaged, and one person was killed. The black thing in the middle is the tornado. It happened on the 13th of this month.
—Sent by Mary Beyler who is currently serving for the Mennonite Board of Missions in Japan.
The Hesston Record, Thursday, March 15, 1990, Page 3
Deadly tornado rips through Hesston, leaves a trail of destruction
A deadly tornado ripped through Hesston early Tuesday evening leaving a trail of devastation from one side of town to the other.
According to reports late Tuesday night, 16 persons had been treated for assorted injuries at Newton Medical Center, and four had been admitted. One of the four admitted was not from storm-related injuries, however.
The twister or twisters possibly first touched down near Haven, in Reno County, and moved northeast toward Burrton, Hesston and Goessel, leaving a path of destruction more than 100 miles long before fading out near Hillsboro.
Weather officials said that the twister was on the ground for two and a half hours.
Two persons were killed by the storm. One reportedly was a 6-year-old boy near Burrton. The other was a woman in Goessel.
Hesston residents had been warned that the twister was on the ground near Burrton, about 18 miles southwest of Hesston, near the Harvey-Reno County line and was heading northeast.
Clocks in Hesston stopped at about 5:40 p.m. as the twister blasted the agricultural experiment station just southwest of town, roared into the western part of the city along Erb and Roupp streets and moved northeast across Knott.
The tornado ripped apart the businesses in Ole Town Square and headed for the sprawling regional lumber facility of Kropf Lumber on North Lancaster.
The deadly storm then apparently veered to the east and tore through the area just north of the main downtown business block.
After that, it ripped into the residential area east of Main Street heavily damaging parts of it, and moved northeast to the eastern edge of Hesston where it destroyed or heavily damaged businesses near the entrance to I-135.
Deadly tornado
• Continued from Page 1
Less than an hour later, residents scurried for cover again as another tornado was reported between Burrton and Buhler.
Rain and hail moved in while fire fighting crews were battling a blaze at the Mel Martens residence at 406 N. Weaver. That was the only fire reported from the storm.
Hesston city administrator Jay Wieland said first thing Wednesday morning, emergency crews would make another sweep through town, checking residences and businesses for possible victims.
He said three sweeps had been made Tuesday night and there were no more victims found.
A major cleanup effort was set to begin first thing Wednesday morning. Wieland said heavy equipment from Newton, Moundridge, Harvey County and some private contractors would be made available for cleanup operations.
“One of our first priorities will be to clear the streets,” said Wieland."
An estimated 350 members of Mennonite Disaster teams was expected in town early Wednesday.
Gov. Mike Hayden made a quick visit to the city late Tuesday to survey the damage. Wieland said Hayden assisted with getting National Guardsmen in town. About 75 guardsmen arrived Tuesday night to help patrol the community.
Wieland said Kansas Gas and Electric Co. had crews in town overnight and expected more than 100 KG&E workers to be here Wednesday, working to restore electricity.
Power was restored to less affected areas - the south and east parts of town -- late Tuesday.
The city administrator said all gas lines into the city were shut down Tuesday evening.
“We will be trying to isolate areas so that the gas can be turned back on in the areas not affected,” Wieland said.
Earlier Tuesday evening, there were television reports indicating that the city water supply was contaminated. However, Wieland said that wasn’t true, and that the water was safe.
He did say, though, that they urged residents to use the water sparingly because of pump difficulties.
During the evening Tuesday, the American Red Cross set up the high school and to provide food and shelter. The gym was filled with cots, but
most residents apparently found shelter with friends, family or neighbors.
John Baldwin, president of the Dillons Company in Hutchinson heard that residents were in need of water. He loaded a semi-trailer truck full of 1,000 cases of bottled water and dropped them off at the high school.
“I’d just got home and heard about the tornado on TV,” said Baldwin, “and we decided to donate the water to the people of Hesston.”
A group of people, including several high school students, ignored a heavy rain, formed a chain and passed the cases from the truck into the school.
A loaded grain truck was picked up by the tornadic winds and deposited near a drainage ditch in the west part of Hesston.
Hesston schools closed for rest of week, spring break
Classes in the Hesston public schools have been canceled for the rest of this week because of damage from Tuesday night’s tornado, according to school officials.
Twister kills two; devastates Hesston
By Matt Bartel
Kansan staff writer
A massive tornado ripped through Harvey County Tuesday night, leaving two people dead and dozens more injured as it demolished rural homes south and east of Burrton before slamming directly into the city of Hesston, leveling between 40 and 50 homes and damaging as many as 100 homes and businesses there.
Among the confirmed deaths was one south of Burrton, where a chimney collapsed on six-year-old Lucas Fisher as he huddled in the basement with six other family members. His brother, 12-year-old Garrett, was in satisfactory condition after being taken to Halstead Hospital with head injuries.
Marion County authorities reported that Ruth Voth, 68, was found dead at her rural home one and a quarter mile east of Goessel, about 10 miles northeast of Hesston.
Seventeen people were taken to Newton Medical Center, where all but four were treated and released for a variety of storm-related cuts and bruises. Of the remaining four, one was transferred to HCA-Wesley in critical condition and three were admitted to NMC.
Authorities said a handful of injured persons had been taken to Halstead Hospital; however, no telephone contact was possible this morning with the hospital to get further details.
Still, the deaths and injuries could have been much worse, said Harvey County Sheriff Galen Morford.
County Sheriffs Deputy Steve Bayless, whose rural home was leveled by the twister, was responsible for giving Hesston residents about a
30-minute warning period and remained on the job — after checking his house — until late Tuesday night.
The storm cut about a two-block path of near-total destruction through Hesston, turning a west-side housing development into ground-level rubble, tearing into a minimall and several businesses just two blocks northwest of downtown and leveling homes straight north of the business district on Main Street.
After apparently lifting slightly, leaving many homes standing but roofless as it traveled, the storm again regained full ground contact as it leveled a car wash, service station, Pizza Hut and truck stop on Hesston’s northeast edge.
Homes and businesses throughout the path of the storm were heavily damaged and cars and semi-trailer trucks caught in the path of the storm were strewn around like toys.
Electric service was severed by the storm as it neared the city, causing warning sirens to go silent. Gas service remained on for a time after the storm hit, severing gas lines and creating a fire hazard until city crews cut gas service around dusk.
Telephone service was knocked out for a relatively short time and as it came on again, more trouble was being caused Tuesday night and this morning by the volume of calls being made throughout the area, Southwestern Bell officials said.
Tim Richards of Kansas Gas and Electric said this morning that about 3,000 residents remained without power in the county, including about two-thirds of Hesston, but said
about 200 KG&E workers went out this morning to join the 150 who worked through the night on the miles of downed power lines.
“Some of it we can turn back on, but we know that at least 100 power poles will have to be replaced,” Richards said. “In some areas that were hit directly, we’ll have to rebuild it a block at a time as if it was new service, and that may take a while.”
Water supplies in Hesston remained safe to drink; however, Mayor John Waltner said the waterwell pumps weren’t running for several hours Tuesday evening, causing water pressure to drop.
Firefighters working a house fire on North Weaver in Hesston, along with other emergency crews and residents, were advised Tuesday night to use their water supplies sparingly because of the lack of water pressure.
About two-thirds of Hesston remained without electricity this morning and gas service was likely to remain off for at least another day as crews worked to cap a widespread number of severed gas lines, a job made more difficult by some lines that were ruptured above ground but not completely cut off.
Electric generators from numerous businesses and
other sources flooded areas of Hesston with light Tuesday night as more than 100 emergency personnel from Newton, Halstead, Mound-ridge, Sedgwick, Whitewater, Burrton, Sedgwick County and a host of other cities moved in to aid Hesston Volunteer Fire, Ambulance and law enforcement crews.
As darkness fell, local volunteers joined emergency personnel in conducting house-to-house sweeps, checking every home in the community for any further injuries or gas leaks. By about 11 p.m. Tuesday, a fourth and final complete sweep of the city was being conducted by emergency crews only, said Bruce Jolliff, Newton Police Detective who was coordinating search efforts.
The tornado, the largest and longest-lived of more than a dozen in central Kansas spawned by Tuesday’s line of heavy thunderstorms, touched down at 4:34 p.m. near Castle-
ton and entered Harvey County southwest of Burrton at 4:56 p.m., according to the National Weather Service and law enforcement personnel.
Moving slowly at first, the twister grew in size and picked up speed as it cut a swath across the county, downing power lines and smashing more than a dozen
rural homes south and east of Burrton. Overall, Harvey County Sheriff's Det. Byron Motter reported 43 rural county homes damaged by the storm, with approximately 10 destroyed.
The storm, which entered the county moving at about 10 mph, picked up to more than 40 mph as it moved through the county, striking Hesston at 5:39 p.m. and entering Marion County about 10 minutes later, NWS officials said.
“It took nearly a straight northeast path between Burrton and Hesston,” Motter said after completing an aerial review of the damage this
morning. “It took an odd little swerve around Burrton, and an odd crook in Hesston, as well.”
Witnesses near Hesston said the storm appeared to split into two funnels and then rejoined into a larger, single storm that passed through Hesston. In all, the tornado covered 100 miles before dissipating near Dwight in Morris County, about 25 miles south of Manhattan.
Barbara O’Dell of the Marion County Sheriffs Department confirmed this morning about 19 rural homes were destroyed by the storm in Marion County but that no injuries had been reported.
Battered town’s road to recovery strewn with rubble, tragedy, tears
By Tom Schaefer___________________
The Wichita Eagle
HESSTON — A gray morning and a biting wind greeted Milton Miller as he stood on his front porch the morning after. He tugged at his windbreaker and prepared to enter.
The roof of his three-bedroom, brick-and-frame house was gone. Windows were blown out Yellow fiberglass insulation dangled from exposed walls. Like spring dandelions, splintered bits of wood dotted what had been a well-kept yard.
What was left of a 10-speed bicycle rested on his front lawn. He didn’t know whose it was and didn’t really care.
He worried about his wife, Lorraine, 69, who was in a Newton hospital for observation. They had hidden from the March 13 tornado in their basement, and she was still shaken, he said.
“You don’t know where to start with something like this,” said Miller, 67, as he walked through the doorway.
Miller, one of hundreds of townspeople trying to recover from the destruction, went to each room, pausing to pick up a broken picture frame, a gold golf putter and other keepsakes.
He spoke softly as he viewed the extent of the damage.
“My kids made this clock for our
45th anniversary,” he said, pointing at a 2-year-old grandfather clock on the dining room floor, its glass shattered and its cherry cabinet scarred by deep scratches.
A shelf nearby displayed several antique cups and saucers, neatly balanced and unscathed. Miller gently clutched a collection of family photos, some stained by rain.
“I don’t know what we’ll do,” he said, fighting back tears. “I’ve never felt so hopeless in all my life.”
During the day, cars clogged several streets in town as people strained to look at the exposed houses. As if on unguided tours, people walked through damaged neighborhoods, often snapping pictures or shooting home movies. Many stopped to talk about how they had survived or whether they could help. Some homeowners laughed with those who consoled them. A few quietly cried.
Elda Roupp, 61, was going through boxes and picking up rubble in a small storage room of her house. The brick house she and her husband, Willard, had lived in for 32 years resembled a maze: Only the interior walls remained. An adjacent building that had housed a concrete business they sold last fall was destroyed.
“We had it all lined up when we
built our house and the business,” she said, eyeing imaginary connecting points from their house to their former business to the southwest sky. “If a tornado comes from the southwest, it takes them all. I guess we didn’t use our heads.”
After the tornado struck, she said, it was hard to think clearly. After the storm, when she finally went to bed at her daughter-in-law’s home in Newton, Roupp said, she worried about whether the insurance premium on their house in Hesston had been paid.
“Then this morning, here comes our blessed insurance man,’’ she said, chuckling.
By early afternoon of the day after, the cleanup of the town was well under way. At Miller’s house, a dozen friends and volunteer workers had cleared the front yard. Clothing, furniture and some glassware were loaded onto pickups to be taken to storage. Wood, plasterboard and other debris were heaped by the curb and then hauled away by a dump truck.
As he looked around, Miller smiled and spoke with confidence.
“We’ve got a lot to be thankful for and a lot to do,” he said. “But we’ll bounce back. It’ll take a while, but we’ll bounce back.”
Dave Williams/The Wichita Eagle
Standing in their driveway, Milt and Lorraine Miller examine what is left of their house in northeast Hesston. The tornado devastated 15 percent of the community’s homes.
Tornado injury list
NMC officials released the following list today of 16 persons treated for weather-related injuries Tuesday night:
•Brenda Laughlin, 40, Hesston, treated and released;
•Ruby Hardin, no age, Hesston, admitted, fair condition; •Gladys Wiens, 60, Hesston, treated and released;
•Beulah Delaney, 83, Ardmore, Okla., treated and released; •Darryl Holderness, 24, Canton, treated and released;
•Galen Sharp, no age, Hesston, transferred in critical condition to HCA-Wesley (non-weather related);
•Beth Guengerich, 20, Hesston, treated and released;
•Jennifer DeWitt, 10, and Judy DeWitt, 28, both of Hesston, both treated and released;
•Lowell Good, 61, Hesston, treated and released;
•David Barber, 52, Waterloo, Iowa, treated and released;
•Brian Cox, 18, Newton, treated and released;
•Carol Ewy, 50, Hesston, treated and released;
•Cynthia Frank, no age, Hesston, good condition;
•Lorraine Miller, 69, Hesston, good condition;
•Larry Hall, 36, Newton, treated and released;
•Michael Jury, 23, Newton, treated and released.
Tornado's Fury Cuts Path Of Destruction in Hesston
By Paul Schrag
Assistant Editor
HESSTON, KAN. — A tornado ripped through the heart of this small prairie town March 13, in the middle of a 100-mile path of destruction that stretched from near Pretty Prairie to northeast of Hillsboro.
Hesston residents and Mennonite Disaster Service workers began cleaning up the wreckage early Wednesday morning, thankful that no one in Hesston was killed. About 100 homes and businesses were damaged and 40 to 50 were destroyed.
Only about 20 people were injured in the town of 3,000 people. One-fourth to one-third of the town was affected.
"The warning system worked very well,” said Jim Mininger, Hesston College academic dean. “People were able to take cover by the time the tornado hit.”
Hesston College, south of the storm’s path, was not damaged. Hesston Mennonite Brethren Church had a small part of the roof blown off, but the other Mennonite churches were not damaged. The home of Hesston College president Kirk Alli-man was destroyed.
HESSTON COLLEGE canceled classes March 14. About 600 Hesston
College students, faculty and staff were helping with clean-up work in the town, Mininger said.
The tornado struck Hesston about 5:35 p.m. Rachel Penner, who lives about a block from some of the worst damage, took cover in a closet.
“My house just shook, and I heard that terrible roar,” she said Wednesday morning. Nearby, workers were removing fallen trees, and residents were searching for what could be salvaged from their homes. Many houses were crushed, and debris was everywhere.
City administrator Jay Wieland said it was difficult to tell how many people were homeless, since most whose houses were destroyed stayed with neighbors or relatives. The path of most severe destruction was about a block and a half wide, from the southwest to the northeast part of town.
AFTER LEAVING Hesston the tornado passed by south of Goessel. One of the two deaths caused by the storm occurred in the Goessel area. Ruth (Mrs. Harold) Voth was killed when her home east of Goessel was destroyed.
The other death occurred near Burrton, where a 6-year-old boy was killed when a chimney collapsed into
the basement of a home.
The tornado, which was half a mile wide at times, according to witnesses, was first spotted in northeast Kingman County, south of Pretty Prairie. It hit Castleton, passed between Yoder and Haven and struck Burrton.
After touching down in Hesston, the twister continued northeast, damaging farmhouses, knocking over trees and downing power lines. Shingles were blown off the roof of the Meridian Church of God in Christ, Mennonite, two miles northeast of Hesston.
THE TORNADO crossed highway K-15 about 2 1/2 miles south of Goessel. It went between Hillsboro and Marion, causing more damage in rural areas. The funnel was last sighted on the ground near Latimer in Morris County. As many as 12 tornados may have touched down.
MDSer Marvin Toews said Wednesday morning that MDS volunteers were working in the Castleton, Haven, Burrton, Inman and Goessel areas, in addition to Hesston.
Hundreds of volunteers from the Bethel College Service Corps, including students, faculty and administrators, also were working in Hesston.
March 15, 1990
Workers remove fallen tree branches amid damaged homes in the northeast part of Hesston on March
1 4, the morning after the tornado swept through the town. (Review photos)
The older of Hesston's two water towers stands above wreckage. Despite the devastation, there were few injuries and no deaths
Hesston bids goodbye to parts of past
By Hurst Laviana__________________________
The Wichita Eagle
HESSTON — Marcella Diller might have been standing in a war zone ravaged by hours of artillery fire.
But she was in her front yard, watching a backhoe chew up the remaining walls of a home that had been shredded in 30 seconds by a monstrous tornado.
“When they started tearing it down, I knew this is it. It’s gone,” Diller said Thursday as two dozen workers with tractors, sledgehammers and shovels leveled the home she and her husband had built 34 years before.
For the Dillers and many of the 100 other Hesston families whose homes were ravaged by Tuesday night’s tornado, Thursday was a day of final goodbyes to what little remained.
Caravans of trucks normally used to haul grain carried debris to a landfill north of town, where it was piled and burned. Diller’s neighborhood, near the center of the city, contributed more than its share to the pile.
For much of Hesston, life was returning to normal Thursday. Hesston College resumed classes. The 50 National Guard troops sent to protect the damaged neighborhoods pulled out of town. City officials said electricity and gas service had been restored to all but the most heavily damaged parts of town.
But the reminders of the tornado were still evident in the battered, windowless cars driving around town. Down at City Hall, people already had begun asking about building permits. City officials said 137 of Hesston’s 960 houses were damaged by the storm. As many as 86 were damaged beyond repair.
At the National Severe Storms Forecast Center in Kansas City, Mo., center director Ed Ferguson said the tornado that hit Hesston and killed two people near Goessel and Burrton was much stronger than most. A typical tornado has winds of 100 to 150 mph, he said. But the winds in the Hesston tornado probably exceeded 250 mph.
“That tornado was head and shoulders above the ordinary tornado,” he said. “It was very violent.
“That town had 3,000 people and it took a direct hit The death toll could have been in the hundreds.”
In Topeka on Thursday, Gov. Mike Hayden added two counties — Jewell and Morris — to the list of eight that already had been declared disaster areas.
The designation makes those counties — along with Geary, Harvey, Jefferson, Marion, McPherson, Reno, Saline and Shawnee — eligible to apply for federal disaster assistance.
Forecasters said a huge storm system dropped as many as 25 tornadoes onto those 10 counties Tuesday night But no area of the state was hit harder than Hesston, where the comer of Weaver and Reusser still looked like a battlefield Thursday.
Many of the homes not flattened were being razed, and the realities of the storm were beginning to sink in for the homeowners like Diller and her husband, Bob. Marcella Diller said watching the workers raze her one-story brick house was nearly as devastating as waiting in her basement as the storm passed.
“This is where we raised most of our family, so we have a lot of
memories,” she said. “It’s just sort
of all gone down the drain_____We
did have a lot of happy times here.
“There were times, when our children were little, when there were like 54 children in this neighborhood. They’ve all grown up and moved away. Now we’re all grandparents, it seems like.”
Bob Diller, president of a nearby lumber company that also was devastated by the tornado, said he and his wife would rebuild their home if their insurance policy covered the cost
For Marcella Diller and many others like her, Thursday was a day of painstaking decisions. Whether to rebuild or move on. Whether to use what’s left or start from scratch.
As the backhoe bit into another piece of the Dillers’ wood-shingled roof, a man in front was demanding another decision about the old elm tree out back. He was offering to knock down the 10-foot high cluster of broken trees and cart it off with the house. Marcella Diller hesitated.
“It was something that just came up,” she later explained. "It wasn’t something we planted.”
The man sensed Marcella Diller’s reluctance, then said she could always have it cut down later.
“If somebody comes through with a chain saw looking for something to cut, grab him,” he said before moving on.
“When they started tearing it down, I knew this is it. Itrs gone.”
Marcella Diller
“This is where we raised most of our family, so we have a lot of memories. It’s just sort of all gone down the drain. ...We did have a lot of happy
Marcella Diller
Mennonite Disaster Service worker Mike Brandt helps Vicki Hoffman clean up some of the mess at what was left of her aunt's and uncle's home.
Strangers quickly become
companions in fear
Motel walls only defense against twister
By Bud Norman___________________
The Wichita Eagle
HESSTON — The 12 of us, strangers hastily thrown together by bad weather and bad luck, huddled together like old friends.
As we watched through a plate-glass window at the end of a motel hallway that afternoon — ready to duck for cover — a tornado filled the sky before us, like an extreme close-up of a movie villain on a Panavision screen. The twister was heading right at us, and we were left with no defense but the motel -walls and a nervous sense of humor.
“Looks like a good time to be in the carpenter business,” said Ken Hiser, who watched the bits and pieces of once-neighboring houses float hundreds of feet above us. Hiser, a truck driver from Colorado Springs, was beginning to realize that his latest haul would end in Hesston.
“Yep,” he cracked, “they’re going to need a lot of roofing done here.”
As frightening as the tornado was, it held a perverse fascination for us, and we watched it approach until it was merely blocks away. One man lingered to watch until seconds before the wind shattered the glass. The 11 others had headed for safety.
At 5:37 p.m., the lights of the Heritage Inn went out Inn owner Claridy Stauffer had, led us calmly to what she knew was the safest hallway in the building. When the tornado neared, she shouted for us to hit the floor.
As we jostled for position, a strange sense of etiquette prevailed . Each time a person would bump into another, the jostler would murmur a quick “Excuse me.”
I was in Hesston on a trip to north central Kansas, where I was to cover a murder story. My comrades in fear included several employees of the hotel and its restaurant, five overnight guests and several people just passing through who had decided to ride out the storm with chicken-fried steak at the inn.
Backs to the wall in pitch-black
darkness, murders and truck routes and the daily chicken-fried steak special meant nothing to us.
The overnight guests were in from Ohio and said they’d never seen anything like the weather that held us captive. I’ve lived my life in Kansas, and I’d never seen anything like it, either.
Suddenly, all of us had a lot in common.
In the seconds since we had taken shelter, the light of the sky also had gone out, covered by menacing black clouds, except for one strip
of blue — visible to us through a window at the end of the hallway. Through the window, we could see pieces of metal, wood and assorted objects hurtling by.
An explosive rumble cut through the sound of high winds.
I expected to see Margaret Hamilton whizzing by on her bicycle and then find myself coming down in the land of Munchkins.
Within seconds, it was over. The calm was even eerier than the earlier noise and confusion.
The lights were still out We jostled against one another in the dark, and everyone checked to see whether all were OK. No bumps. No bruises. No scratches.
We knew we had survived a violent event, but nothing prepared us for what we found when we emerged from the hall.
The rest of the Heritage Inn was a shambles. All the windows had been shattered. Glass littered the floors. The lobby ceiling was partly collapsed and debris from across Hesston appeared to have landed in the parking lot My company car was across the street half a block away and lying on its roof.
Next door, which had been a truck stop, was rubble.
Hiser and his truck-driving companion, Ralph Mobley of Waterloo, Iowa, rolled up their sleeves and began assisting rescue workers, who had magically arrived within seconds of the tornado’s roaring departure.
“Looks like my truck didn’t make it” Hiser said of his battered rig, which was sitting where he had left it “Might as well see what we can do for the rest of these people. You know, I never did get to eat”
Stauffer made sure her guests had survived intact before surveying the damage to her business.
She had made hurried phone calls and found her family safe and sound, she said. However, she had learned her home was destroyed, she smiled.
“I’m just thanking the good Lord we all got in the hall,” Stauffer said. “I’ve lost my place of business and I’ve lost my house, but nobody was hurt. A building can be rebuilt. A human life can’t be.”
One of a handful of people waiting to use the phone in the Heritage Inn lobby — what seemed to be the last working telephone in Hesston — Bernice King of McPherson quietly shed a single tear. She had been driving home to McPherson after a day of work in Wichita, and the tornado hit while she was still on 1-135. At the last moment, she had abandoned her car and followed a passing highway patrolman’s direction to a low-lying ditch. There, she said, she met another woman, and the two prayed until the tornado passed.
“The lady I was with got the brunt of it,” King said, shaking. “She had a big gash on her forehead. I don’t know what happened to her, but I want to find out We were praying together. I saw houses fly by ... sticks ... disintegrated ... pieces of metal.”
Outside in the parking lot what seemed to be hundreds of people converged on the destruction off the 1-135 exit into Hesston. Some had wandered down from the interstate, where they had abandoned their cars. Some had emerged from the leveled homes in the adjoining neighborhood. And some had wandered over from the unscathed Hesston College to see what they had missed.
Cars had been flung blocks from their original resting places at the motel parking lot Many sat on their roofs. A line of cars was parked alongside the interstate.
Sue Geiger of Salina headed toward the increasingly popular motel phone.
"We were listening to the radio, and it said there were bad storms in McPherson County, so we pulled off,” said Geiger, who had been returning home after a day of shopping in Wichita. "We pulled into the Pizza Hut thinking we would just wait out a rainstorm.”
Then, said her daughter Jennifer, “The guy at the Pizza Hut said we should all go into the refrigerator. There were about 12 or 15 of us, and another five in the bathroom.
“We all survived, thank God.
"I’m 20, and I wanted to live to see my 21st birthday.”
The overnight guests were in from Ohio and said they’d never seen anything like the weather that held us captive. I’ve lived my life in Kansas, and I’d never seen anything like it, either.
Bud Norman, Eagle staff writer
One for the record books
By Ray Hemman
The Hutchinson News
The Hesston Outbreak could rank as high as second in U.S. history in terms of the number of tornadoes spawned by the late winter/early spring storm.
The outbreak — which is a meteorologist's term for a specific group of tornadoes, hail and other severe weather — apparently began in Texas near Midland and went as far north along Tuesday’s cold front to Oshkosh, Wis., which is about 1,200 miles.
In all, 78 tornadoes were reported to the National Severe Storms Forecast Center in Kansas City, Mo. By the time the storms are verified and duplicate reports are excluded from the count, the actual number will be lower, said Ed Ferguson, deputy director of the center. Typically 25 percent of the reports are eliminated on verification.
If 25 percent of the 78 twisters are eliminated from the count, there would be about 59 twisters. That would make the outbreak the third largest behind the Super
Outbreak of April 3 to 4, 1974, which spawned 148 tornadoes, and the Enigma Outbreak in February 1884, which spawned 60 twisters. It would be ahead of the Palm Sunday Outbreak of April 11 to 12, 1965, which included 51 tornadoes.
However, because the Hesston tornado remained on the ground for 120 miles, the number of duplicate reports may be higher than 25 percent, Ferguson said.
“This storm was head and shoulders above the average tornado,” Ferguson added. “It’s up there with the big boys.”
Winds clocked at more than 250 mph put the tornado in the top 2 percent of all tornadoes in terms of wind speed, experts said Wednesday. The average tornado has extreme winds of 100 to 150 mph.
And the twister’s 120-mile continuous path may make it the one of the longest-running tornadoes in Kansas since the weather center began keeping records in 1950. The center made a preliminary review Wednesday of records on more than 1,000 tornadoes.
"This storm definitely had seri-
ous business on its mind,” Ferguson said.
The National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., reports that the typical tornado path is about 2 miles long, and destruction is usually limited to an area of only about six-hundredths of a square mile. Only about 2 percent of tornadoes have tracks longer than 32 miles, and only about 2 percent affect an area greater than 7 square miles.
“The average tornado stays on the ground less than three minutes,” Ferguson said. “This was on the ground for three hours.”
In all, the storm center received 230 reports of storm damage from Texas to Wisconsin Tuesday. Once all the reports are received, as many as 300 incidents — severe weather events — may be chronicled from the Hesston Outbreak.
The farthest south report came from Midland, Texas, which is near the southeast corner of New Mexico, where l-inch diameter hail fell. The farthest north report came from the Oshkosh, Wis., area of
east central Wisconsin, where hail fell.
Most of the twisters sighted Tuesday were along the legendary Tornado Alley. The area is an oval stretching on the south from Dallas through the Oklahoma City area to Hutchinson to northeast Kansas and eastern Nebraska, and has the highest frequency of on-land tornadoes in the nation.
In Kansas, 25 twisters were sighted. Other reports included 16 in Nebraska, 15 in Iowa, 14 in Oklahoma, six in Illinois and two in Texas.
The first reported tornado in Kansas was at 8:45 a.m. north of Jetmore in Hodgeman County. The last report was at 10:25 p.m. in southeast Kansas.
Despite the large number of twisters, there were relatively few deaths. The Super Outbreak of 1974 had 315 deaths, while the Enigma Outbreak of 1884 killed 420. The most deadly outbreak was the Tri-State Outbreak on March 18, 1925, during which seven tornadoes killed 740 people.
The Hesston Outbreak
Mass of cold air pushing eastward collided with warm, moist gulf air creating extremely unstable atmospheric conditions.
A real bargain
Marvin Lein digs fence-post holes Thursday for a fence to keep people from falling into the gaping basement where his parents' apartment house once stood in Hesston. His parents, The Rev. Arnold and Virginia Lein, Boyd, Wis., had stopped in Hesston just 45 minutes before the arrival of Tuesday's monster tornado to tell their renters they were going to sell the property. Ironically, the Leins arrived in Hesston after completing missionary work in Mexico, where they helped build a home for a poor family. Not to be deterred, the Leins say the property will still be put up for sale.
Photo by Larry Swank
Hesston fixture comes tumbling clown
One of downtown’s older business structures came. grudgingly tumbling down Wednesday, March 28, before a crowd of onlookers as yet another victim of the March 18 tornado.
The 40’x40’x60' tall grain elevator across, the street from Sunglo Feeds Inc. at 226 N. Main was razed because of damage sustained by its wooden structure in the recent storm.
Co-owner Jim Hamilton noted that sections of the metal and lumber that covered the 42-ycar-old elevator were ripped off in the storm. So he and his partners, Allen Schrag and Richard Wenger,
chose to tear dawn the aging structure rather than chance safety’s sake.
Little did they realize that because the building was so firmly planted on its foundation, it would take most of an entire day for contractor Scott Goering of Newton to maneuver his equipment successfully enough to tip the structure over.
In fact, at one pointy the contractor snapped a cable line being used to tug at the structure.
Goering co-workers ultimately resorted to ramming high loaders into the front corner “legs” of the building, weakening it enough to yank it over on its side.
The original elevator structure was reportedly built about 1924 and was used to receive wheat and milo, Hamilton said.
Hamilton said he’s been told by long-timers that the original building burned in a fire in the late 1940s and was rebuilt in 1948.
Since 1979, the elevator has been used strictly for feed grain storage - along with two relatively new round-shaped bins to the north and west on the same site.
The 30’-diameter-by-50’-tall bin was sucked up in the tornado and swept away. A large chunk of the metal from that bin was found wound tightly into a 10-foot-diameter ball of debris to the northeast of the feed building across the street after the storm had passed.
The larger metal bin, measuring 48 feet in diameter by 50 feet tall, also was damaged in the storm. But much of it was left intact, along with most of the milo it contained.
Both of these two-year-old metal bins will be replaced as Sunglo rebuilds over the next few months, Hamilton said.
And as for the elevator, it too will be replaced - but with a scries of smaller, more traditional style storage bins.
All told, Hamilton estimated the rebuilding projects will total about $200,000.
Record Photo/ BOB LATTA A fixture on the Hesston scene for more than 40 years - a grain elevator belonging to Sunglo Feeds — is no more.
Following the March 13 tornado, this historic elevator was brought down on March 28, 1990.
The original elevator was built about 1924. after being burned in a fire.
It was rebuilt in 1948

Rolls of carpet and a pile of destruction mark the site of Hesston Decorating Center.
Twister damages businesses
The following is a list of businesses in Hesston
damage in the tornado on March 13:
• Delta and Pineland seed research facility,
342 W. Knott
• Trover’s Furniture Restoration,
348 W. Knott
• Hesston Machine & Welding, 330 W. Knott
• Hesston Decorating Center, Ole Town Square, 355 N. Old Hwy. 81
• The Photographer, Ole Town Square,
357 N. Old Hwy. 81
• Ole Town Cleaners, Ole Town Square,
359 N. Old Hwy. 81
• Hesston Veterinary Clinic, Ole Town Square, 401 N. Old Hwy. 81
• King Construction Co., 301 N. Lancaster
• Kropf Lumber Co., 401 N. Lancaster
• Paul’s Inc., 400 N. Lancaster
• Hesston Concrete, 119 W. Reusser
that were destroyed or received various amounts of
• Hesston Post Office, 120 W. Knott
• Hesston Auto & Truck, 112 N. Hwy. 81
• Kenny’s 66 Service, 206 N. Old Hwy. 81
• Hesston Record, 109 N. Main
• Hesston Colonial House, 140 N. Main
• Hesston State Bank, 201 N. Main
• Sunglo Feeds, 226 N. Main
• Hair Designs, 309 N. Main
• Hesston Electric, 315 N. Main
• The Source, Big A Auto Parts, 315 N. Main
• Renner Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, 317 N. Main
• U-Do-It Car/Truck Wash, Plaza Blvd.
• Hesston Heritage Inn, 606 E. Lincoln Blvd.
• Pizza Hut, 720 E. Lincoln
• Sav-A-Trip, 724 E. Lincoln
Record Photo / BOB LATTA Roger Ratzlaff, right, directs a group of Mennonite Disaster Service workers to a job.
Trucks belonging to Hesston Concrete were lined up, and after the tornado, all were missing their windshields.
Spectacular, fascinating and deadly
Residents awed by twisters
By Jim Cross_________________
The Wichita Eagle
When the storm had passed, the Pizza Hut and a Sav-A-Trip convenience store in Hesston were nothing but twisted beams. No gas pumps. Nothing but rubble.
Across the street, Margo Buscher’s home was still standing. The storm had lifted the dishes out of her cupboard, but the phone still worked and the house was in fairly good shape.
Buscher was busy feeding ice cream bars to her four children.
No one in the family had been hurt Two dogs and a rabbit had joined the children in the basement during the storm. But the family cat was missing.
Candles flickered on the tables because the electricity had died during the storm. A group of neighbors showed up looking for shelter and Buscher took them in. They swapped stories about the tornado.
“It was on top of us,” she said. “I sent the kids and the animals to the basement.”
On a nearby street Danny Schroeder, 13, stood and looked at what used to be his home.
“All that is still up is part of my brother’s room,” he said, struggling to find anything that he still recognized from his broken, wood-frame house.
Within hours after the storm passed, Gov. Mike Hayden arrived to inspect the damage. About 50 National Guardsmen came to town to set up shelters — one at the high school, the other at Hesston College.
200 that piled into the restaurant behind the man.
With the electricity knocked out by the storm, the crowd searched for fuel-powered lanterns in the restaurant
Olen Lupkes, 77, had been driving through Hesston when the storm started. He stopped at the Heritage Inn to wait it out
The storm destroyed the inn and accompanying restaurant and demolished Lupkes’ pickup.
“It is completely rolled over, three or four times,” he said.
Miles away, in Caldwell, teacher Larry Miller had turned on his police scanner and loaded film into his camera as soon as he heard tornadoes were in the area.
Miller didn’t have to wait long.
“I looked out my west window, and I could see one on the ground,” said Miller, who lives outside Caldwell, a town about 50 miles southwest of Wichita.
After almost 20 years of chasing storms to get pictures, Miller said, the sight of the tornado still was awesome.
“This was the most spectacular thing I’ve ever seen by far,” Miller said. “You could tell when it hit a farmhouse or something. You could see the debris rise up into the air.”
Miller wasn’t the only Kansan who left the safety of his basement for a better look at the storms.
All along K-96 near Mount Hope, motorists stopped along the road to see the storm.
In Mount Hope, police cars and ambulances cruised the streets during the height of the storm with sirens blaring. The town, population 734, had no power to make the tornado sirens work.
Tornados bypassed Mount Hope, hitting nearby Burrton.
Larry Perkins drove through Burrton after the storm.
“The houses are gone,” he said. “It is terrible.”
In Mount Hope, about the time the sun set, funnels were spotted both east and west of town at the same time.
Mount Hope firefighter Steve Faulkner saw a funnel cloud. It stayed on the ground about 45 minutes, he said.
“It looked like a big black wall,” Faulkner said. “It was about half a mile wide.”
The sight quenched Faulkner’s appetite for another look.
"I’d never seen one before — and I hope I never do again,” he said.
But the crowd at the shelters was small, no more than 30 at 9 p.m. Many of the survivors were relying on friends and neighbors for shelter.
Soon after the storm, search-and-rescue crews began picking their way through the wreckage of Hesston.
“Walk all the way south parallel to the damage,” Newton paramedic Barry Lehman shouted to his searchers. “Go to each house. Be safe about it Call out”
The rescue work had been about to start earlier but a tornado had been sighted at the last minute. A crowd fled to a local restaurant the Colonial House, looking for shelter.
A Sedgwick firefighter used a shovel to break the locks on the door and let the crowd inside.
Walk-in cooler provides shelter
By Joe Sullens
Kansan executive editor
“It was just like they talk about; just like a railroad train coming through.”
Those are the words used by John Anderson of Newton to describe the sound and fury of Tuesday evening’s tornado which cut a swath through western Harvey County, devastating the countryside in the Burrton area and destroying much of the city of Hesston.
Anderson, 24 and an assistant area manager for the Pizza Hut franchisee in the county, was at the Hesston Pizza Hut, just west of 1-135 on Lincoln Boulevard, when the storm struck at about 5:40 p.m. He and Jason Reynolds, Hesston Pizza Hut manager, worked quickly to get the approximately 15 customers and employees in the store at the time sheltered from the oncoming funnel cloud.
"The first siren went off about 5 p.m.,” Anderson recalls. “Then it went off again about 5:25 p.m.
“Jason and I went outside and saw this dark cloud formation approaching from the southwest and touching the ground. ‘That’s got to be it,’ he (Reynolds) said. We started herding people into the walk-in cooler and the restroom, the only places in the building capable of withstanding much of a blow.
“I stayed outside briefly, and it was fortunate I did, because a woman came up just about three or four minutes before it hit and I was able to steer her to shelter.”
Anderson recalls that during the time in the shelter, he experienced little sensation of the Pizza Hut building being torn asunder by the raging winds.
“We heard the glass start to shatter, but we didn’t hear the building coming apart,” he
says. “There was an eerie feeling, though, as we felt and saw the walk-in cooler move about six inches.”
Anderson commended the on-duty Pizza Hut employees, mostly Hesston teenagers, for their actions in the crisis.
“They were great,” he says. “They helped keep down panic.”
Estimating that approximately 15 minutes passed between their first sighting of the tornado and its progress past Hesston, those in the Pizza Hut emerged to “a scene of utter destruction,” according to Anderson.
“Our building was ruined, but portions were still standing,” he says. “Next door to the east, the Sav-A-Trip convenience store and truck stop was gone, just obliterated, and all around there were wires down and cars tossed like toys and debris everywhere.”
Across Lincoln Boulevard to the south, he recalls, houses and apartments were in various stages of destruction. In front of the Pizza Hut, a tractor and semi-trailer which had been parked on the west side of the building had been turned 90 degrees by the wind and pitched on its side.
“We didn’t have much time to look around at that point,” Anderson says. ‘We were trying to evacuate the people from our building and from Sav-A-Trip.” Most of them were taken at the time to the Heritage Inn motel, to the west of Pizza Hut, which was badly damaged but still standing.
“It’s just unbelievable that there weren’t more injuries or fatalities,” Anderson says. “Just unbelievable.”
Anderson returned to his home in Newton about 7 p.m. Tuesday but, as a member of the Kansas National Guard, was called to duty in Hesston about 10 p.m. to assist in the security and cleanup operation there in the storm’s aftermath.
Hundreds homeless after tornadoes shred Kansas
Twisters kill
at least two
From staff and wire reports
About 12 tornadoes pounded south-central Kansas on Tuesday evening, killing three people and causing extensive damage to up to 100 homes in Hesston, authorities said.
Joy Mosher, public information officer for the Kansas Adjutant General’s Office, said a 6-year-old boy in Burrton and a resident of Goessel were killed. Names were not available. A report of a third victim proved incorrect.
The National Weather Service also reported tornadoes in northeast Kansas late Tuesday night. Shortly after 10 p.m., personnel at the Fort Riley reservation reported a funnel cloud. No details were available.
Nearby, in Morris County, the sheriffs department confirmed that a tornado struck the town of Dwight about 7:20 p.m. Dispatcher JaNell Gillaspie said there was damage to homes and some trees down, but she had no reports of injuries.
Thirteen people were taken to the Newton Medical Center, about eight miles south of Hesston, said spokesman Chris McKellip. Most had minor injuries.
A spokesman at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita said a 56-year-old Salina woman who had been traveling through Hesston was treated for a fractured arm.
Trooper Martin Berneking of the Kansas Highway Patrol in Wichita said 12 tornadoes touched down in a wide area of south-central Kansas after 4:30 p.m. and continued into the evening.
Among them was a tornado reported south of Saline County about 7 p.m. and three along the eastern edge of Reno County.
Another tornado caused damage to buildings and homes in Inman, in southern McPherson County.
"Several houses were flattened east of town, but there’s not beer anyone hurt,” said McPherson County dispatcher Edna Cowan.
Governor Mike Hayden traveled to Hesston, a community of about 3,000 people, Tuesday night to assess damage. The governor said he had not made a decision about requesting federal assistance.
Ms. Moser said 50 members of Kansas National Guard from units in Newton and Wichita were being sent to Hesston, along with a 60-kilowatt electric generator to provide electricity. She said that they planned to establish a command post in Newton.
Harvey County Sheriffs investigator Byron Motter said the 6-year-old boy was killed when a chimney and fireplace collapsed into a basement where seven people, including two elderly neighbors, were huddled to escape the storm. Another child suffered minor head wounds.
"We were in the basement no more than a minute or two, then it crashed,” said Paul Wedel, who was in the basement.
The victim’s name was being withheld Tuesday night, Motter said.
Jay Wieland, Hesston city administrator, said 75 to 100 houses had sustained minimal to severe damage.
"We are struggling with utilities,” he said. "It will probably be a day and a half to two days before we have electricity back. We have emergency telephone service. We’re making emergency repairs to the water system.” Shelters were set up at Hesston High School and Hesston College. Hesston High School Principal Marvin Estes said about 50 people were in the school gym for the night.
Wieland said at least 15 business were damaged and five were
destroyed, including the lumber yard and the Hesston State Bank.
A man in his 80s was trapped in his basement on a farm south of Burrton but was removed from the rubble safely.
Residents of Hesston were stunned by the scope of the damage. Many saw the twister firsthand.
Looking through the telephoto lens of his video camcorder, Frank Clayton marveled at the tornado that would later wreak havoc on Hesston.
"The last one I saw come through was an eighth- to a quarter-mile wide,” said Clayton, who watched a series of funnels spawned near his North Newton home Tuesday evening. “It was picking up dust and debris and throwing it out the side. I knew it was headed toward Hesston, and then I heard that it’d hit.”
Soon afterward, Clayton himself reached Hesston after he was unable to phone friends and coworkers at Williams Natural Gas Co. there.
What he found resembled a war zone. Houses and buildings were completely torn apart. The town’s Pizza Hut was leveled. The roof was pried off a metal grain bin in the manner of a can opener. And everywhere was debris.
About 50 percent of Hesston sustained damage from the tornado, said Philip Koster, Newton city manager, who was helping at the command post in Hesston
In addition to Pizza Hut, he said, at least one convenience store was leveled.
An unconfirmed report said 300 Hesston residents were homeless and Hesston High School was converted Tuesday night into an emergency medical center and a shelter for the homeless.
Tornado ravages several homes in the Haven area
By Jan Biles
The Hutchinson News
HAVEN — Leta and Bill Royer are grateful they are alive. Their house and belongings were obliterated Tuesday night by a tornado that ravaged much of eastern Reno County.
Mrs. Royer said she and her husband were at their home when they spotted the tornado in a field about 1 mile southwest of their home. The Royers live 3 miles southwest of Haven.
“I said, ‘Is that a tornado or what?’ ”
The Royers got their dog, ran to their pickup and drove south on a gravel road.
“It was after 5 p.m.,” she said, trying to recall the time. “We drove about 3 miles to get out of its path.”
After the Royerses left, their 26-year-old son, Bill Royer Jr., arrived home and saw the twister heading toward the house. He grabbed a radio and flashlight and went to the basement.
“I could hear the wind blowing. I could hear windows breaking. Then the glass broke down there,” the younger Royer said.
The Royers were shocked to see their house in shambles when they returned at 5:30 p.m. Downed power lines and tree branches blocked their driveway.
Most of the windows of the house had been blown out by the wind. Shattered glass covered the floors
and furniture in the house. One window pane between the kitchen and back porch remained, although all the windows in both rooms were gone.
The contents of the house were thrown about as if the house had been turned upside down. Bedding had been stripped from a bed and whipped into the living room. Yet, pictures on the walls, dishes in the kitchen cabinet and clothes in the closets had not been moved. A songbook remained in its place on a piano — not one page was disturbed.
“The house has been there for 90 years. It’s went through a bunch, but it didn’t take this one,” the senior Royer said.
More than 50 trees around the Royer home were destroyed. Branches were chopped off the tops of trees and thrown into the house and in neighboring fields. Sheets of corrugated tin were wrapped around some of the tree trunks.
A car parked inside a shed east of the house was surrounded by slivers of wood and other debris — all that remained of the building. A barn, another shed and several pieces of farm machinery were also damaged.
“The only tractor that survived was my little tractor,” Mrs. Royer said of a toy tractor sitting on her living room floor. "... Boy, we’re starting 1990 out with a bang.”
The tornado traveled northeast
from the Royer home and damaged several other homes in the Haver area.
Five semi trailers, a 76-foot two way radio antenna, and a barn were toppled at the Dave and Annette Borntrager home about 3 miles northeast of Haven. Mrs. Borntrager said she and her two daughters — Jaimie, 4, and Susan Nicole, 1 — were home when the tornado struck.
“I heard it on the scanner, that it was at Castleton. I looked out the window and saw it coming,” she said.
She grabbed a comforter, blanket and flashlight and escorted her children to the basement.
“We waited, and nothing happened. I came up, and it was still coming, so we went back down again,” she said.
Her husband arrived after the tornado. By that time, she and her children had left the premises with a neighbor.
"He was scared to death,” Mrs. Borntrager said.
The roof on the couple’s two-story house was damaged, and most of the windows on the second floor were shattered. A barn and pickup campers were also destroyed.
Fields east of the Borntrager house became the resting place for bales of hay, tree branches and scraps of tin. A telephone pole which had been severed near the ground was lying in the middle of a
muddy field. A mattress was lying alongside the roadway about 1 mile east of the Borntrager home.
One of the Borntragers’ neighbors, John Edgington, said he didn’t see the tornado while he was driving home from work. His home is located 2% miles north of Haven.
“But I saw what it had done,” he said.
The tornado broke windows in his house and tore shingles off its roof. Siding was ripped away from the sides of the house. A double-car garage, which Edgington had recently constructed, was destroyed.
A 1989 Taurus station wagon parked inside the garage received damage to its sides and windows.
“You always hear about them, but you never think it will happen to you. But it does,” Edgington said as he walked around his back yard surveying the damage.
Leta Royer picks up the sheets that were stripped off her bed when a tornado tore through her home Tuesday outside of Haven.
Photo by Sandra Watts
'I can't believe the sheets were torn off the bed!' she said.
By Bud Norman and Anne Fitzgerald
The Wichita Eagle
One was 6, huddled in a corner with his grandparents, parents and brother; the other was 68, alone at home.
The morning after tornadoes swirled across Kansas, family and friends mourned the loss of the two, Lucas Lee Fisher, a Burrton grade school student, and Ruth Voth, a former Mennonite missionary. The two were killed in the tornadoes of Tuesday, March 13, the only fatalities in storms that cut across central Kansas.
Fisher was a Kansas farm boy, a first-grader and a friend to everybody in a town that prides itself on friendliness.
“He had such a beautiful disposition, you couldn’t help but like him,” said Ben File-sen, Burrton Elementary principal. “He was an excellent boy. He came from an outstanding home, a very family-oriented home.”
Though he had taken refuge from the tornado in the basement of his home, he was crushed by bricks when a large tree was thrown into the chimney. Lucas’ brother, 12-year-old Garrett Fisher, was treated for minor cuts and bruises at Halstead Hospital. The rest of the family escaped injury.
“The weight of the tree fell right on the fireplace, and little Lukie was right underneath it in the comer,” said James Armstrong, a family friend who helped scores of volunteers try to clean up the debris on the Fishers’ ravaged farm. “He was a very popular little guy. Everybody loved him.”
At home alone when the tornado plowed into her house east of Goessel, Voth apparently died instantly. Neighbors found her body alongside the county road that runs in front of the Voth homestead.
She had just returned home from Newton Medical Center, where her husband, Harold, was recovering from surgery.
warning people to get to cover.
"The Fishers did that, and it should have saved their lives. But they’re strong Christian people, unusual people. They will be able to go on.”
Rick Stubby, assistant chief of Burrton’s all-volunteer fire department and ambulance service, said he liked to think that he and his co-workers saved a few lives. But he will miss the one life they didn’t save.
“I’ve got boys in that school myself, so I knew him,” Stubby said of Lucas. “He was a great kid.”
Dixie Fisher, Lucas’ mother, fought back tears to describe her son.
“He had a lot of friends,” she said. "He was just a little boy. He was in the first grade.”
Ruth Voth, a registered nurse and Mennonite missionary in Mexico with her husband during the 1950s, worked part time at Be-thesda Home, a nursing home in Goessel.
Co-workers and town residents said she went out of her way to be nice to people.
“She was very generous and loving,” said Dennis Schmidt, pastor of the church.
The Voths’ home, about two miles east of Goessel, was a former army barracks that they had moved onto their property and
Ruth Voth Lucas Fisher
Families mourn well-loved farm boy, ex-missionary
Boy dies as tornado sweeps
The Newton Kansan, Wednesday, March 14, 1990
By Bill Wilson
Kansan news editor
BURRTON — “It’s just terrible. You don’t know what to do. You see this all the time on the news, but you never think it’s going to happen to you.”
Those words from a tearful Eli Bontrager, a rural Burrton farmer, sum up the shock felt by residents of this western Harvey County city and particularly the outlying area to the south and east, devastated by a huge tornado that roared through at supper time Tuesday and claimed one life.
Lucas Fisher, 6, the youngest of Kent and Dixie Fisher’s three boys, was killed when the chimney of the family’s rural Burrton home collapsed into the basement, where the family had taken refuge.
Garrett Fisher, the oldest of the three boys, remains hospitalized with abrasions and a leg injury, according to the boy’s uncle Vince Fisher, but should be released from the hospital today.
A third brother, Brandon, and the boys’ mother escaped injury.
The tornado roared into western Harvey County from the southwest, where Harvey County Sheriff's Det. Byron Motter picked up its track.
Motter said Tuesday night that the storm, three-quarters of a mile wide at its base, took a track directly toward Burrton, then veered east before
slamming into a succession of homes between one and two miles south of the city.
“It was moving — really moving,” Motter said. “There were times I didn’t know if I could outrun it.”
The Burrton Graphic’s Julie Cargill watched the tornado move in from her home just south of the city.
“We could see it coming from the southwest,” she said. “I thought it was coming right for us, so I thought we had plenty of time to leave, but it went more to the southeast of us.”
Several homes in the area of the Fisher residence, including that of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Wedel, the boys’ great-grandparents, were destroyed or heavily damaged.
The Cecil Mitchell residence, located- on CR-785 (the Burrton-Mt. Hope road) a half-mile west of Fisher’s, was destroyed and a home just south of the Mitchell’s owned by Bill Owens sustained damage to outbuildings.
Owens and his son, Jarrett, were working horses from their quarter horse stable when the storm struck.
“We had seven horses and we lost one,” Jarrett Owens said this morning. “The one we had to shoot had just foaled a colt a couple of weeks ago.”
Based on the horse’s racing and breeding earnings, Owens said losses from the horse’s death could approach $40,000.
“We were out working the
horses and you could see it all develop,” Owens said. “I told my dad that a big storm, maybe a tornado, was coming. I was coming around the stretch of the track and looked and saw it. The clouds were passing each other. My dad said the horses would be all right, so I put my stuff in the barn, changed my shoes and took off in my pickup.
“My dad saw it coming and jumped into his pickup and drove two miles fast straight south. He’s been a trucker for 22 years and he’s seen this before.”
Harvey County Sheriff Galen Morford said his officers were assessing damage this morning, but that he expected to find several other homes south of Burrton damaged.
After the twister cut its swath south of the city, it veered again to the northeast where it destroyed the Louise Corcoran residence and Kenny’s Diesel Repair, both located three miles east of Burrton on US-50.
“I’m just thankful no one was hurt here,” said an undaunted Mrs. Corcoran, who smiled faintly as she waded through the roofless remains of her home. “I was in the basement with my grandson Shane Westmoreland when it hit. We didn’t hear any warning, but my daughter in Burrton, Michelle Griffith, called and said that the sirens were blowing there. I had supper cooking, so I turned it off and down we went.”
Minutes later, the tornado hit.
“The main thing we could hear was the glass breaking out,” she said. “You could hear things being thrown around in the house too. My grandson said he could hear it roaring, just like they always said a tornado does.”
Across the highway from the Corcorans, Kenny Reich-uber, owner of the diesel repair shop, spent this morning assessing massive damage and giving thanks that an employee working at the time of the storm escaped.
“We had one person here, named Troy Lambert,” he said. “He’s in the hospital right now with cracked ribs, lung contusions and a bruised heart.”
Reichuber’s shop, provides a vivid illustration of the storm’s fury. Semi-trailers were overturned and scattered about the area, many moved 50 to 100 yards from where they rested before the tornado.
From the highway, the storm continued its northeast trek, where it struck the Bontrager and Larry Flickinger residences.
Bontrager, whose vegetable farm is a well-known fixture in the Burrton area, likely is alive today because he and his wife, Opal, violated a major tenet of tornado safety.
“I’d been gone and just gotten home,” he explained as family members and friends poked through the rubble of his home. “I turned on the radio and television first thing and heard about it, so I told Opal I was going to take a look out. I got to the corner and there it was.
“I told Opal it was too dangerous to get in the car, so we thought about going to the basement. But finally we decided to get in the car and we drove straight south. As we did, we saw it take the Redwood Inn (a former restaurant now the site of Kenny’s Diesel Repair).
“So we sat there and waited. We could see it hit us.”
The storm leveled Bontra-ger’s home and outbuildings, dumping the remnants of the house into the basement.
“I don’t know what would have happened if we’d been down there,” he said.
He saw, he ran, he survived
Farmer outran tornado -- and lived to write about it
On March 13, Arlie Hammar did what the tornado experts say you're not supposed to do: He saw the big tornado coming and tried to outrun it.
Fortunately, he won; he and his dog Snookie.
Actually, Hammar says, he didn't outrun the storm.
"I just got smart enough to go in the right direction.”
Hammar, 55, operates a small Harvey County farm that
has been in his family since his grandfather’s uncle homesteaded it in the 1800s. He also spends time writing, trying to write something each day.
Although he didn’t sit down to write about his race with the tornado until three days after the storm, he recorded the harrowing experience in vivid detail.
It was, he says, something he'll never forget.
Here is the edited version of his account.
had the stereo on KFDI radio because of the storm warnings. I hadn’t paid much attention until they said I there was a tornado on the ground north of Haven and that anyone on the Reno-Harvey County line had about 5 minutes to take cover. I came in and noticed the lights flickering. I pulled all the plugs that I could find and left only the out-I side stereo and some lights on. Then I went outside to look.
From Page 1B
They were right about the 5 minutes, because I saw it two miles away to the southwest. Now from this moment on was a time of terr-
or. It had already left two farms north of Haven devastated — the old Tucker place and the Giffert farmstead — with two tornadoes that came together at the comer east of the UB church north of the river. There it took out a bam by the Valley Township Cemetery then traveled northeast to Carl John-
son’s and Mike Bauman’s where it leveled most everything except the houses.
Since the old Ford of Dad’s was stuck in the mud north of the bam and the truck wouldn’t start, Snookie and I had to run on foot, first to the west then to the east, as it looked like it was headed north toward the bam and the house across the road. We ran east about a quarter mile, which was wrong, as the tornado that was southwest of us was going northeast. We stopped as the thing was following us.
It was so big I couldn’t see any escape but decided to run back west. I ran out of breath and
made it except the tornado was going more east than north at about 40 miles an hour as the radio had reported. It passed me not a hundred yards to the east. I was so out of breath and my chest hurt so bad I felt like dropping to the ground as I saw the hedge trees at the road being yanked up by the roots. Now this would take a big bulldozer to do this and a lot more time than a few seconds that the tornado spent taking dozens of trees at a time.
Then it went east to John Devenpeck’s place. I starred to follow it when I saw some hailstones the size of a baseball sink in the ground close to me. Once again, totally exhausted I shifted gears and ran for the cover of a grainery about 200 yards away, clearing a 4-foot
Fernando Salazar/The Wichita Eagle
Arlie Hammar and his dog Snookie were caught on foot when the tornado swept past them about half a mile east of his Harvey County home.
Farmers’ tornado losses run from sheared trees to badly hurt livestock
By Anne Fitzgerald_______________________________
The Wichita Eagle
MOUNDRIDGE — Strange stories are surfacing in storm-ravaged central Kansas ...
Stories about people seeing cows flying by or cattle with two-by-fours piercing their necks, about antifreeze being sucked out of the radiator in a combine parked inside a shed, without damaging the radiator, its cap firmly in place.
Sad stories, about strangers driving up to farmsteads at 2 a.m. and flashing spotlights on what the storm had wrought, then driving off hastily when the owners shone their own flashlights back; about farmers having to put farm animals out of their misery, their legs and bodies too broken to mend. |
But amid the rubble that marks the paths of the tornadoes that hit Kansas on March 13, there are good stories, too, such as the one about an elderly couple from Norwich showing up with a legally blind relative to help in the cleanup; stories about students taking time to walk fields and pick up debris; stories about churches I cooking meals for hundreds of volunteers.
Stories of such good Samaritans, a tradition as old as I the farmsteads that dot the countryside, are working like salve to ease the harshness of the storm’s after-math.
The shock of the storm still lingering in their eyes and the weariness of long days and sleepless nights showing in their faces, farmers are just beginning to realize the magnitude of what happened when the sky let loose its wrath. So is the government
Last week, Gov. Mike Hayden declared yet another county — Sumner — a disaster area. By the end of the
week, storm damage stood at more i than $34 million.
By some estimates, as many as 50 to 60 rural farms suffered damage
in Harvey County. That’s almost 6 percent of all its farms. In Sumner County, 10 farms were damaged.
But the path of the storm — from where it first touched down northeast of Pretty Prairie to Burrton, Hesston, Goessel, Hillsboro and beyond — reveals far more damaged farms than that.
And that was just from the main storm, the one that hit Hesston and has received the bulk of the publicity.
About two hours after the Hesston tornado first touched down, another one swooped down west of Moundridge, moving like a giant shop-vac up a county road toward McPherson, stopping just short of the town but pelting it with mud, metal and glass.
Other storms the same night also hit Sumner, Jewell, Geary, Shawnee and Jefferson counties. And the same night, tornadoes did extensive damage in Nebraska and Minnesota.
No one knows for sure how many tornadoes visited Kansas that night, but in all, 11 counties in the state have been declared disaster areas.
No one can say just how many farms suffered damage, but the damage is extensive, running into the millions of dollars.
Farmers lost homes, outbuildings, livestock, farm machinery, fences,
irrigation equipment, and hay and grain supplies ...
Farmers such as Lynn Geffert of Haven, who had about 70 purebred Hereford cows before the storm but found only about half of them afterward, many of them badly cut and bruised.
A pitchfork and scoop in hand, he stood one day last week outside the house his grandfather built, where four generations of Gefferts had been raised. The house, moved off its foundation, will have to be destroyed.
A dozen outbuildings were leveled, including a cattle shed that had just been retinned. The only thing left in it was a wooden-wheeled wagon that had belonged to his grandfather.
One of the hardest losses, Geffert said, was that of a 100-year-old cedar tree just to the east of the house that had been taller than it. Only a shredded trunk remains.
Despite the depressing scene, Geffert remains optimistic.
"It took 2 1/2 generations to build this, and it might take two generations to rebuild it. It’s no one's fault that it took 2 1/2 minutes to wipe it out ... The most important thing is that God gave us another chance at life.”
Bergkamp lost one center pivot irrigation rig and said he knew of at least six within the immediate area that had been wrecked as well.
A local insurance agent had told him he had received claims for 26 rigs, which cost upwards of $30,000 apiece.
“If you didn’t have enough insurance, it’s going to hurt really bad,” said Bergkamp’s son, Gordon.
While most farmers carried some insurance, few had insured everything they lost And many will find it difficult to replace what they had, because costs are so much higher than when their buildings were built or equipment purchased.
Carrol Flickinger, who lost most of her place near Burrton, said the family’s farm equipment had not been destroyed.
The storm also destroyed her mother-in-law’s home, but already Mennonite volunteers have built a new shed on the site.
"We just have to slowly start over,” Flickinger said, holding donated children’s toys and standing outside campers that were serving as temporary shelter for the family.
No amount of money will be able to replace some things, like 100-
year-old farmhouses and bams.
And then there are the trees.
Many of the old farmsteads were surrounded by trees — elms, cedars and cottonwoods — that the owners’ ancestors had planted.
“I can’t imagine the place without trees,” said Leta Royer, working on insurance papers and writing thank-you notes in the kitchen of her home near Pretty Prairie, a house that will have to be destroyed because of the damage it sustained. A grade-school teacher in Haven, she and her husband, Bill, lost a heifer, 100 round bales of hay and all of their outbuildings, including an enormous bam built in 1906. A yard full of massive elms trees was reduced to stumps.
The storm couldn’t have come at a worse time, on the heels of a disastrous drought year that gave Kansas its poorest wheat crop in 23 years. Some of the farms that were hit were already suffering economic difficulties.
With one of
the busiest months of field work just a week away, producers whose equipment was damaged or destroyed face an especially difficult spring.
Thirty-year-old Ed Koehn of Halstead lost the home his family rented, but said his 26 sows and his swather, the key to his custom haying business, survived.
His dad’s brand new cultivator, however, was picked up and carried away, landing on its top.
“You can pretty well guess what it’ll do,” he said. “It’ll set us back a few years probably, depending on how much we had covered (with insurance), but all in all it’s a setback.”
Affected are farmers such as Harry Neufeldt and his son, Kelvin, who farm together west of Moundridge.
One evening last week, they sat in the dark on the edge of a hay rack parked in the barnyard, quietly talking about what to do with the old farm.
Harry called it a showplace, saying he had spent 30 years improving it before turning it over to Kelvin, who has three boys of his own.
The barn was a source of great pride for the family, its tall walls painted white, its roof covered with green shingles.
But now it’s gone, taken out by the tornado.
Farming, the elder Neufeldt said, is all the family knows.
“We’ll survive,” said his son, who turned 30 Saturday. "We’re in it to stay. We’ll just pick up the pieces and go.”
Contributing: Jennifer Comes of The Eagle
“You can pretty well guess what it’ll do. It’ll set us back a few years probably, depending on how much we had covered (with insurance), but all in all it’s a setback.”
Ed Koehn of Halstead
Families relieved to survive tornado that damaged houses
By Alan Montgomery
The Hutchinson News
Farmers just north of Pretty Prairie gawked in horror shortly before 5 p.m. Tuesday as a massive funnel cloud touched down and began its deadly march northeast across the land.
In some areas the tornado seemed to be satisfied with ripping tree lines apart, snapping power poles and exploding farm buildings. One of the first farms hit was southwest of Castleton, where a large shed was demolished, one farmer said.
Henry Berndsen — who lives with his wife, Eileen, on a farm two miles southeast of Castleton — was driving home from an errand in Hutchinson and was within a mile of his house when he saw the huge funnel bearing down on the farm.
Later, standing amid the rubble of his five farm buildings, he recalled his thoughts as he saw the quarter-mile-wide funnel engulf the farmstead in a blast of dirt and flying rubble.
“Eileen was at home,” he said. “I just kept driving into it."
The tornado passed through seconds before he motored down his road and got a close look at the ruins of the farm. The house was still standing, although its attached garage was gone and most of its windows blown out.
He looked for his wife and saw her come out of the house, uninjured. Later, as Mrs. Berndsen helped pick through her dirt-blasted belongings in her ransacked, glass-covered livingroom, she talked about her ordeal.
“I had the TV on and it said there was a tornado watch,” Mrs. Berndsen said. "There were thunderstorms in Kingman and Pretty Prairie. I looked out and saw it (the tornado). It was coming this way, so I went to the basement.”
She said she went to the southwest corner of the basement and knelt, ready to crawl under a bed there if she felt it necessary.
“It sounded like a big wind,” she said. “It blew out the windows in the basement, but I didn’t get under the bed.”
Outside, evidence of the tornado’s fury was everywhere. The Berndsen’s two late-model cars sat, dirt-packed and their windows shattered, on the garage slab — but the garage structure had simply disappeared.
An old red International pickup lay, mangled, about 80 yards east of the house in a wheatfield. Its top caved in, its bed ripped off, it apparently had been lofted high in the air and flung into the field. A tractor lay twisted and sway-backed, its frame broken, near the rubble of a shed.
When asked if he planned to stay in the house that night, Berndsen just gazed across the farm.
“Right now I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said. "I’m just standing here.”
* * *
The tornado slammed square into the home of R.H. "Mick” Astle, who resides with his wife, Edna, three miles south of Yoder. The Astle’s brick, ranch-style home was ripped apart as the Astles, both 74, lay in an interior hallway.
When it was over, the Astles saw that the hallway in which they lay was the only part of the home that still had a ceiling. The front room on the northeast was blasted away; the kitchen, diningroom and two bedrooms open to the sky, their roofs and ceiling gone. It looked as if a large bomb had gone off in each room.
But they were alive.
“I don’t care about the house,” said their daughter, Carol Dyer, Haven, as she and other friends helped the Astle’s salvage clothing and other belongings from the rubble. “They’re all right. We can replace the house,” she said, her face still showing the fright she had endured.
Mrs. Dyer had driven from her job at a Hutchinson animal clinic to check on her parents, only to suffer the shock of seeing the house in ruins upon her arrival.
As friends arrived at each damaged farm, most had witnessed or heard reports of damage on farms throughout the area. Damage was reported at the Tony and Connie Brauer farm; the Bill Royer residence; the Bill Rogers farm and the Lynn Gefert residence — although details were not available.
At the Floyd Fry residence, three miles southeast of Yoder, the tornado demolished six farm buildings on the farm and heavily damaged the farmhouse roof and knocked out most of its windows.
Floyd Fry’s wife, Polly, was at home at the time and was shocked by the ordeal. She suffered chest pains and was transported to Hutchinson Hospital. Floyd was at work at the Yoder Hardware Store at the time of the storm, a family member said.
Mrs. Fry was reported to be in stable condition and undergoing tests at the hospital at 9:30 p.m.; she later was admitted for observation.
A second woman was brought to the hospital with similar symptoms. Margaret Stancel, 68, Hutchinson, was admitted for observation after she suffered chest pains after she went to check on her summer home near Burrton and saw that it had been destroyed by the tornado. Ms. Stancel was in stable condition.
Twister slams Burrton area
By Duane Schrag
The Hutchinson News
BURRTON — Shane Westmoland knew the tornado wasn’t far off when he saw the clouds moving south — the opposite direction the storm was moving.
Then the dust started to kick up.
“You couldn’t hear anything except glass breaking,” said Westmoland, 20, as he reached into the wrecked car that sat in what was left of his front yard and pushed in the cigarette lighter. “We had a garage here and some sheds.”
He and his grandmother live in the two-story brick home, which is on the south side of U.S. 50 several miles east of Burrton; neither was injured when the tornado struck about 5 p.m. There were conflicting reports on whether anyone was injured at the diesel- shop on the north side of the highway.
Westmoland said a man working there sought shelter in the ditch and was taken away in an ambulance.
However, Don Mitchell, who lives north of Burrton, said he talked to one of two men who were at the shop and was told they “outran” the tornado. Mitchell identified the man he talked to as Kenny Ryecooper.
The storm destroyed the shop, ripped the roof off the brick home and left vehicles strewn about the area, blanketed with dirt. Clothing fluttered from the top of the tree next to the house.
"I’ve seen tornadoes out here for years and years,” said Shaun Corcoran, a relation of Westmoland’s who grew up at the home. “I just can’t believe this. It’s history. I can’t believe it.”
Corcoran, who lives in Halstead, heard about the tornado and, at the urging of his girlfriend, Lou Ann Schoenecker, decided to make sure his grandmother was all right.
“Jesus, I just couldn’t believe it when I came down the road,” he said, his voice shaking.
Westmoland said he was monitoring the radio before the tornado hit.
“They told us it died down," he said.
Then his aunt, Michelle Griffith, called to warn him that a tornado was nearby.
“I lived in Burrton and the sirens were going off,” said Ms. Griffith, explaining the call.
Westmoland sent his grandmother downstairs and then watched until he thought the dust started to kick up, he said.
Reno escapes with moderate damage
By Dennis Darrow
The Hutchinson News
Reno County counted its blessings Tuesday evening after at least three tornadoes touched down, producing moderate to heavy property damage but no injuries in the county.
At least eight houses were heavily damaged or destroyed in several parts of southern Reno
County. Authorities confirmed three tornadoes swept the ground, including a major one that went on to cause heavy damage and a death in Harvey County.
Reno County authorities established two evacuation sites for residents left homeless by the storm, Buhler Grade School and South Hutchinson Methodist
Church. The site at the church was discontinued by 9 p.m.
As of 8:30 p.m., the city of Haven remained without power. USD 312 school officials cast doubt whether school would take place today. Other cities in the southern part of the county reported having power.
Reno County Red Cross officials will begin assessing damage
from the storms today, said Hutchinson police Sgt. Harold Harris, spokesman for the Reno County emergency response team.
The first tornado struck about 4:30 p.m. in an area southwest of Castleton, a small city south of Hutchinson. This tornado proved the most damaging.
The tornado toppled some
homes and damaged others as it swept between Yoder and Haven and into Harvey County. The same twister caused heavy damage in Burrton, and later caused massive damage in Hesston.
"It looked like it was terribly, terribly wide at the bottom," said Reno County undersheriff Jake
Koontz, who spotted the tornado while driving on U.S. 50 near the Harvey County city of Burrton.
Witnesses placed the width of the tornado’s bottom at a half-mile.
A period of calm followed the first tornado.
However, about 6:55 p.m., authorities spotted a second tornado north of U.S. 50 near the Reno-Harvey county border. A few minutes later, a third tornado was spotted four miles east of Buhler.
The city of Hutchinson sounded its civil defense warning sirens after the first tornado was spotted. However, no tornado ever threatened the city, and the city sounded an “all-clear" whistle about 5:15 p.m.
The property damage reported as of Tuesday night followed the path of the first tornado: starting about two miles south of Castleton and then to the northeast between Yoder and Haven.
The high winds destroyed at least three houses and heavily damaged four others. Reports were unavailable about the amount of machinery, barns and other buildings damaged.
The storm also was blamed for causing an oil spill from a freestanding tank near Red Rock and Kent roads, about three miles northwest of Haven. The spill was contained after about 20 minutes.
The amount of oil spilled was unknown, authorities said.
Authorities said the destruction appeared lighter than initially expected. Even though the path of the first tornado cut through a sparsely populated area of the county, many more houses could have been damaged, they said.
“We're very lucky,” said Bill Walker, emergency service director for Reno County. "We’ve got a lot of damage that hasn’t been assessed yet, but we’re very lucky.”
The county established an emergency command center at the Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Co. outside Haven. From that location, Walker and other officials monitored the situation.
Six fire trucks remained on standby throughout the storms, and about 10 law enforcement officers scrambled throughout the area in an effort to help possible victims, authorities said.
Reno County road crews began moving fallen trees Tuesday evening. Many trees were damaged and blocked roadways, Harris said. “We could see tree rows where every tree was broken about halfway up. Just stripped,” he said.
Officials expected to get a complete picture of the damage caused by the storm today. Not enough investigation had been done to place a monetary amount of damage on the storms as of Tuesday night, Harris said.
Dillons sends water
Dillons responded to the devastation in Hesston by shipping about 5,000 gallons of water.
A spokesman at the distribution center on Hutchinson’s east side said a full 40 foot trailer was sent.
Inman glad to
‘I couldn't believe they came out unscratched'
By Duane Schrag
The Hutchinson News
INMAN — John Thiessen stood in a clearing of sorts, a vinyl motorcycle pouch in one hand, kitchen utinsels in the other, and smiled.
"I don’t feel so bad," he said. “We’re all alive.”
To his right was the clean concrete slab that hours earlier supported his house. At least a dozen friends and neighbors pored through the tangled wreckage of his farm nearly seven miles east of Inman.
“There’s nothing that humbles you like this,” he said softly. “You think you have a lot of strength and power. It’s good for you.”
When daylight Wednesday revealed the full extent of the tornado damage in McPherson, Reno and Harvey counties, there weren’t many people looking for a good side to the previous night’s terrifying events.
A tornado — eyewitnesses accounts and damage patterns suggest it was a quarter mile wide — roared north on a path that closely followed the blacktop road that runs due south of McPherson.
In a four-mile stretch:
• Three homes and all the outbuildings were levelled.
• One home was heavily damaged, portions of its roof missing. Outbuildings were destroyed.
• Two residences were relatively unscathed, but outbuildings were demolished.
Ray and Irma Siemens live in a home two and a quarter miles south of the Inman blacktop. At least, that’s where the elderly couple used to live.
Mrs. Siemens stood on the concrete slab and gestured towards what was once their living room.
“We were right here and the lights went out,” she said.
She went to the picture window, that faces south, and came face-to-face with a tornado.
“It looked like it was a quarter mile wide," she said. “We ran down the stairway.”
“We were in our storm cellar and it seemed like seconds when it hit,” said Mr. Siemens.
Debris packed the stairway to the cellar, making it difficult for the two to get out. They shut off the gas, and then walked in the rain to the road, where a passerby picked them up and took them to a nephew who lives nearby.
Wednesday morning they were able to see the full extent of the damage. Only the stone front to their fireplace was still standing. Their two late model cars remained nosed up to the concrete slab, debris and mud packed around them.
Only a concrete floor remained where an implement shed once stood. The machinery lay in a hopeless tangle and the smell of spilled diesel fuel was in the air. In the field to the north, their combine lay upside.
A quarter mile south, friends and neighbors were working to help the
Kelvin Neufeldts put their farm back together.
Their two-story wood frame home was extensively damaged. Several head of cattle were killed by the storm. On Wednesday morning, a crew was salvaging alfalfa bails, stacking the on a hay rack.
A mile north, more than two dozen people were trying to save what they could from the outbuildings at the Don Froese farm. In the middle of the yard lay a large fiberglass boat. Farm implements and debris were scattered all around.
The Froese home was untouched.
“All five of use were downstairs praying,” said Froese. Before it hit, he had been watching the tornado approach from the south. It big lagged as it came.
“I kept thinking it was going to veer off to the northeast,” he said. When it was apparent it wouldn’t, everyone went into the basement. They felt an abrupt change in pressure.
“Then I heard one loud bang and then it was all over,” he said. Their
Two miles to the north, John Thiessen had heard about the tornado that ploughed into Hesston earlier in the evening. He checked outside.
“I looked out my south door and saw it,” he said. It was about a half mile away. “We went into the basement and got under the bed. It was very loud and amazingly quick.”
The tornado left a smooth slab where his house had been. About two dozen lengths of irrigation pipe were wrapped around a tree. Outbuildings were razed.
Down the road are the remains of what used to be the home of Bret and Marla Gillmore. Nothing is left but a concrete basement.
"The basement was about a month old,” said Susan Gatz, Bret’s mother.
“Before that, they wouldn’t have had any place to go,” Ms. Gatz said. She surveyed the total devastation.
“I couldn’t believe they came out unscratched," she said.
Irma Siemens, Inman, points to the spot in the rubble where the entrance to the cellar is. She and her husband, Ray, were in their living room when the lights went out Tuesday night. She looked out the south window to see an oncoming tornado that hit seconds after they got to the basement.
Storm activity began early
From staff and wire reports
The scene could have come from the Wizard of Oz.
Duane and Jeanette Burns, who live 23 miles west of Hutchinson, were watching television reports of thunderstorms in the Medicine Lodge and Pratt areas at about 10 a.m. Tuesday. The couple went to the back door of their Reno County home to look out.
A large gasoline barrel was blowing by. They realized it was time to take cover.
“We don’t have a basement, and the cellar is outside,” Mrs. Burns said. “We went into the middle of the house. We weren’t thinking tornado.”
There were no official reports of tornadic activity in Reno County Tuesday morning, said Bill Walker, Reno County director of emergency preparedness. County officials activated the severe storm spotter network for the second time in two days for Tuesday’s storm.
Hutchinson was under a severe thunderstorm warning from 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. Tuesday. The warning shifted to Harvey County from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. as the storm moved to the east.
By the time the storm blew over, four outbuildings had been mangled at the Burns’ farm — a milk barn, chicken coop, hay shed and equipment shed. The storm cost the Burns their electricity, but the telephone stayed in service.
A Ford 8N tractor that had been parked in the equipment shed was turned upside down by the storm, Mrs. Burns said. In addition, the doors on a second, larger implement shed were bent, making it difficult to get into the building.
About 20 miles to the southeast, damage was reported in Arlington. Nancy Sullivan said she and her neighbors in Arlington
saw the clouds get “real black” and could hear roaring winds.
“You could feel it,” Ms. Sullivan said, referring to storm. “I just froze in my tracks.”
The Arlington woman said she did not see a tornado as such, but the storm blew a horse tank near her home around a corner and flipped it upside down. She didn’t think any other kind of wind would cause such damage. Near her home, a metal shed was bent around a pole, a wall of a neighbor’s garage was twisted apart and the storm “sucked the windows” out of a mobile home.
Walker said he was in the communications center of the Hutchinson Law Enforcement Center during much of the storm. During the storm, he was in near constant communication with the National Weather Service in Wichita and the spotters in the field. Neither Weather Service
saw the clouds get "real black” and could hear roaring winds.
"You could feel it,” Ms. Sullivan said, referring to storm. "I just froze in my tracks.”
The Arlington woman said she did not see a tornado as such, but the storm blew a horse tank near her home around a corner and flipped it upside down. She didn’t think any other kind of wind would cause such damage. Near her home, a metal shed was bent around a pole, a wall of a neighbor’s garage was twisted apart and the storm "sucked the windows” out of a mobile home.
Walker said he was in the communications center of the Hutchinson Law Enforcement Center during much of the storm. During the storm, he was in near constant communication with the National Weather Service in Wichita and the spotters in the field. Neither Weather Service
radar nor spotters saw anything like a tornado Tuesday.
Such damage could occur from a phenomenon known as a microburst. A microburst occurs when a thunderstorm collapses on itself, sending a sudden and powerful blast of air toward the ground. Damage caused by a microburst can be just as bad and look much the same as that done by a tornado.
Given the relative strength of the mid-morning storm as when it was west of Hutchinson and its weakening by the time it hit the city, a microburst could be a plausible explanation for the damage.
Pea- and marble-sized hail also was reported with the storm as was torrential rain. The News received 0.35 inch during the morning downpour.
A tornado was spotted in a rural area of Hodgeman County, which is north of Dodge City. The tornado, which caused no significant damage, was spotted by Hodgeman County sheriff officials. A tornado warning was issued for the county when the twister was sighted.
A wind storm also damaged the roof of the vocational agriculture building at La Crosse High School Tuesday. No one was injured at the school. Winds gusted up to 60 to 65 mph for 10 to 15 minutes at midmorning in the La Crosse area, said Jack Mendenhall, Rush County sheriff.
The wind “lifted up” the roof, a spokesman for the school said. Water was leaking into the building, but she did not know how much. Students were in the building when the sudden wind arose, but none were hurt.
The storms were part of a larger system that provided rain to the central third of the state Tuesday morning, and a tornado watch accompanied the storms. Reno County remained under a tornado watch until late into the night.
Storms blew up suddenly
Here’s a blow-by-blow account of Tuesday’s tornado outbreak.
4 p.m. — The National Weather Service issues the first tornado warning for north central, central and south central Kansas.
4 ** p.m. — A large tornado touches down south of Castleton in southern Reno County. Witnesses report the base of funnel cloud to be between 3/4 mile and 1 mile wide. Twister traveling in northeast direction.
4:30 p.m. — Based on the Castleton sighting, Hutchinson police department sounds civil defense warning sirens throughout the city. Sirens signal that the city is under a tornado warning.
4:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. — Tornado speeds from Castleton area through an area between Yoder and Haven, damaging houses and power lines. Weather watchers initially fear that twister will strike Haven. Tornado passes north of the city. Eventually, it enters Harvey County.
5 p.m. — Tornado strikes Burrton area. A few minutes earlier, the twister strikes a rural home south of the city, killing a 6-year-old boy and injuring another child.
5:30 p.m. — Hutchinson police signal "all-clear" sirens.
5:30 to 5:45 p.m. — Tornado hits Hesston, cutting a damaging swath across the city and injuring at least 13 people. Forty to 50 percent of the town received damage; unconfirmed reports were made of 300 homeless. Convenience store leveled, and Pizza Hut damaged.
6:15 p.m. — Tornado spotted on ground east of Kingman in Kingman County. Sighting triggers a tornado warning for southeast Reno County.
7 p.m. — Kansas Highway Patrol reports a tornado south of Salina and several others in six surrounding counties.
7:15 p.m. — Tornado strikes about six miles east of Inman, destroying buildings and homes.
9:21 p.m. — A line of severe thunderstorms passes through Wichita, heading east at 20 mph.
9:35 p.m. — The Wichita Weather Service issues a severe storm warning for Reno, King-man and Harper counties until 10:30 p.m. and cautions that people may have to take cover against its winds.
Emotional scars may last a
By Sara Peterson
The Hutchinson News
While the splintered houses and uprooted trees are physical evidence that something terrible has happened, emotional storms may churn for months among the many victims of Tuesday’s killer tornado.
Experts say a disaster such as the one wrought on central Kansas Tuesday can bring lasting stress to everyone involved — from victims to relief workers.
“It’s a very complex situation,” said Tom Shane, a chaplain supervisor with Prairie View Inc. in Newton.
Shane has spent the days since the tornado counseling victims, residents and care givers around Harvey County. As a chaplain working with the Harvey County Sheriff's Department, Newton Police and the Kansas Highway Patrol, he has seen how tragedies affect people.
Shane said each group would have its own set of stress symptoms in reaction to the situation.
Grief often is associated with people directly affected by the storm. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one or a home, a victim’s first reaction often is to repress his emotions, Shane said. Instead of responding emotionally, many first focus on assessing and cleaning up the damage.
“The tendency is to repress things and focus on the immediate situation,” he said. “It’s a gift, in a way. You just can’t be overwhelmed at the time.”
Later, as the cleanup winds down, victims may begin to experience a backlash from their pent-up emotions.
“Later, you have a lot of delayed stress and an incredible amount of anger.”
Tornadoes, like all natural disasters, strike without reason. Unlike crime victims, victims of natural disasters have no specific person or institution to blame, with the exception of mother nature or God.
“They’re different from any other victims,” Shane said. “They can’t focus their
anger. So oftentimes they focus it on something they can see."
A good example is a homeowner who fails to receive his insurance check as quickly as his neighbor, he said. The whole situation might be blown out of perspective by the victim’s delayed stress.
Storm victims aren't the only ones affected by delayed stress, Shane and other mental health professionals said.
People who experienced the disaster but were spared any actual loss often feel a sense of guilt that they were spared while others were not so fortunate.
“People think, ‘How come it was them and not me,’ ” said Dr. Daniel Weiss, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco.
But like the people who experienced an actual loss, their world also has been skewed by the disaster.
“It takes a while for people to feel that the world is a safe place again,” said Weiss.
Weiss has studied the effects of the October 1989 earthquake on San Francisco-area residents. He said central Kansas residents who experienced the tornado firsthand could have stress reactions similar to those experienced by San Franciscans.
In his research, he said he had found that people experienced a whole range of stress-related symptoms in the weeks after the earthquake.
In addition to anger, people had trouble sleeping or concentrating on a task for long periods of time.
Others became preoccupied with worrying when the next earthquake might strike. Others coped by preparing for another earthquake by packing food and storing water.
“These are very normal reactions,” said Weiss.
In the five months since the earthquake, Weiss said, most northern Californians were over the shock of the disaster and there was little talk of it. But the anxiety isn’t completely gone.
“It’s still below the surface,” he said. "It’s still there. It’s like a newly healed scab. It s very vulnerable.”
While people are still very sensitive about the disaster, he said, those who have had the longest-lasting stress from the earthquake have been those whose lives were in turmoil before the quake hit.
If San Franciscan’s experiences are any yardstick, Weiss said Kansans should see their stress subside within the next two to four months.
Yet to overcome the shock and stress of the tornadoes, both Shane and Weiss said, victims must be allowed to talk about their experiences.
“It sets it into perspective,” Shane said. “It lets them know they’re not alone, that it’s all right to want to dump things on somebody.”
Many times people don’t feel comfortable talking about their experiences and how they feel. Either they don’t want to trouble other people or they feel it’s inappropriate to express the emotions they feel. If they can communicate their feelings, even though it is painful, Shane said, it can help them come to terms faster.
"They need to have the chance to cry and have that blessed," he said.
Already, Shane has led several debriefings with area law enforcement and rescue teams to help them talk about their experiences.
In the coming days and weeks, he said, Prairie View and area churches will work together to do the same for Harvey County residents.
“We’re talking about a loss that leaves a scar and heals with time,” Shane said. “The loss of a home is a massive loss, but people can be resilient.”
Hesston damage $21 million
By Alan Montgomery
The Hutchinson News
HESSTON — Destruction in Hesston from the March 13 tornado is estimated at $21 million, a disaster official said Tuesday.
Figures for Harvey County were still being compiled Tuesday, and detailed reports are expected to be completed by Wednesday, according to Lon Buller, director of Harvey County Department of Emergency Preparedness.
But a report released Tuesday by Sen. Bob Dole’s office mentioned the $21 million damage figure for Hesston. Buller said that figure was “real close” to the totals he was seeing for the city.
“We’re trying to get the damage assessment completed,” he said. "I have several people we’re working with on that.”
In addition to Hesston, there were at least 65 rural residences and farms hit by

the tornado in Harvey County, he said.
McPherson County was the second hardest-hit area, with more than $1.3 million
in damage reported at farms in the southern half of the county, where a huge tornado touched down about seven miles
east of Inman the evening of March 13 and headed straight for McPherson.
Randy Reinecker, director of the McPherson County Department of Emergency Management, said the tornado was on the ground for about nine miles and lifted back into the cloud mass as it neared the old Santa Fe School, just south of town.
Spotters reported the tornado path was in line with the eastern portion of the city; had it stayed down, it could have torn a swath through a mile-long residential area and hit the high school. A swirling rotation could be seen in the clouds as the dark mass went over town, Reinecker said.
South of town, the tornado left a path of destruction in the farm area.
The grim tally included four farm homes and 26 outbuildings destroyed; three other
See DAMAGE, Page 3
Continued from Page 1
homes and four buildings heavily damaged. In the category of autos, tractors and combines, a total of 16 were destroyed, 13 heavily damaged and 20 were damaged but remained usable. Eighty-six farm implements were damaged.
In southern Reno County, it was a similar story, according to Reno County Emergency Preparedness Director Bill Walker.
“The latest figures have $1,036,725 damage in the county,” Walker said.
That represents nine residences destroyed, 18 residences with minor to moderate damage, 30 barns and similar buildings destroyed and 59 other outbuildings damaged or destroyed, in addition to dozens of autos, tractors and other farm machines lost, Walker said.
In Hesston Tuesday, disaster headquarters for the Mennonite Disaster Service, the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army were moved to quarters provided for them at Hay and Forage Industries, in north Hesston.
From those offices, volunteers continued their work of coordinating the cleanup and rebuilding of areas thrashed by the tornadoes.
Ken Fast of the Red Cross said his agency had moved its feeding lines to the Methodist Church in Hesston, where meals are being provided by a combination of the local Ministerial Alliance, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
So far, they have not had a food shortage, he said.
“The Hutchinson Dillons Warehouse came in with at least three semi loads of
food and we’re getting donations from everywhere,” Fast said.
About 150 families in the 100-mile-long tornado-damaged zone have received direct disaster assistance from the Red Cross, totaling more than $42,000, and more relief is expected as more storm victims contact the agency, a Red Cross spokesman in Wichita said.
Fast said the money all came from people across the nation who donated to the Red Cross, and it was distributed in the form of “purchase orders,” in which each family is authorized to shop at local stores for limited amounts of essential items. The stores send their bills to the Red Cross office in Wichita, he said.
In addition to the feeding lines in Hesston, the Red Cross is sending a portable canteen van around the area to provide
snacks and refreshments to disaster work crews, he said.
In Topeka Tuesday, Gov. Mike Haydan declared an 11th Kansas county a disaster area as a result of tornadoes that swept through the state March 12-14, making them eligible for federal disaster assistance.
The newest county is Sumner, in south central Kansas, which Hayden said was added because additional damage had been uncovered there.
“This damage has caused the destruction of homes and farms,” he said in his disaster emergency proclamation, which went to the Division of Emergency Preparedness
Hayden designated Geary, Harvey, Jef-
ferson, Marion, McPherson, Reno, Salina and Shawnee counties as disaster areas last Wednesday, and added Jewell and Morris
counties last Thursday.
Check delivered by airmail
After the tornado ripped through her home last week, Vicki Bayless got a postal delivery she wasn’t exactly expecting.
Arriving in the mail at her home seven miles northeast of Burrton this week was a canceled check written in 1982. The check was found more than 100 miles away — a mile west of Manhattan by G. Rex Stone, a medical doctor.
"The letter was in a filing cabinet on
the back porch,” Mrs. Bayless said. “The filing cabinet ended up in the yard, but the tornado took some of the checks and spread them around.”
Stone apparently found the canceled check two days after the twister. He sent the check back to the Mrs. Bayless with a short note.
The 1982 check, by the way, was for the insurance premium on the Baylesses’ now-damaged home.
March tornado in Hesston had big brother
By Bud Norman______________________________
The Wichita Eagle
The tornado that hit Hesston on March 13 was among the top 2 percent of all twisters in its destructive force. The city can still consider itself lucky, though, because it sat less than a mile from what may have been the most powerful tornado ever.
Those are the conclusions of a study released Monday by T. Theodore Fujita, a University of Chicago professor recognized as the world’s leading authority on tornadoes. The study was made public by meteorologist Mike Smith of WeatherData Inc., a local private forecaster that assisted in the research.
The two tornadoes that hit south central Kansas — killing two people and causing an estimated $34 million in property damage — were freak occurrences in several regards. But Smith said the most freakish thing about
the storms may have been that the damage from them wasn’t far worse.
“You can call it anything from coincidence to divine providence,” Smith said, “but the damage and the death toll could easily have been much worse.”
The twister that ripped through Hesston, the most populous town in the path of the storm, brought winds from 200 to 250 mph and ranked in the top 2 percent of all tornadoes for destructive force. The other tornado, which touched down in a more sparsely populated area about a mile from Hesston, brought winds as high as 350 mph and ranked in the top 0.5 percent to 1 percent It might even have been the most powerful tornado ever recorded.
Both tornadoes came from the same meso-
From Page l A
cyclone, a small-scale pressure system within a tornadic thunderstorm, and shared several bizarre distinctions. They occurred earlier in the year than any other killer tornado in Kansas history, they stayed on the ground for the unusual length of two hours and they traveled at the faster-than-normal rate of 45 mph but left markings typically associated with slow-moving tornadoes.
The most striking feature of the tornadoes, though, was their intensity. The first ranked as a rare F-4 on a scale devised by Fujita — much like the Richter scale for earthquakes, it ranks tornado force and uses a scale from F-zero to F-5 — while the second topped the chart.
“Fujita has an adjective for each of the rankings,” Smith said. “His term for an F-5 is 'incredible,’ and that’s exactly what this tornado was. Incredible.”
The first tornado touched down near Burrton and killed 6-year-old Lucas Fisher, who was crushed when the chimney of his home fell into his basement hiding place. Then the storm headed toward Hesston College. Outside the city limits, however, the tornado ran into a rare microburst — a short intense storm producing winds as strong as 100 mph — that shifted the tornado’s path north toward a less densely populated part of town.
"You could call it the microburst
that saved Hesston College,” Smith said, “although it did cause the tornado to increase in strength.”
No one died in Hesston, largely because the tornado could be seen coming from far away, Smith said, and partly because the storm conformed so well to classic tornado tendencies that meteorologists could track it easily.
The second twister formed just before the first dissipated, and it killed 68-year-old Ruth Voth as it
moved northeast from Hesston through a rural area. Smith said more people undoubtedly would have died if the tornado had hit a town.
“I understand there were 12 people in Hesston who took refuge in the cooler of a Pizza Hut,” Smith said. “If it had been the F-5 tornado instead, those people almost certainly wouldn’t have survived. With an F-5, you can do everything right and still not survive.”
Intense storm tops the chart
Mike Hutmacher/The Wichita Eagle
Mike Smith of WeatherData Inc. outlines the path of a more powerful tornado that accompanied the one that hit Hesston.
University of Chicago
Aerial photographs near Goessel reveal a spiral of debris dropped by the tornado that may have been the most powerful storm ever recorded.
Tornado had a 100-mile-long path
By Sara Peterson
The Hutchinson News
The tornado was first sighted in Reno County north of Pretty Prairie, where it damaged three homes.
The storm then tracked southeast of Castleton to just west of Haven, to the west of Burrton, to Hesston, to the east of Goessel, to the south of Hillsboro and then to the west of Burdick, said Jack May, director of the National Weather Service in Topeka.
After leaving the Hillsboro area in Marion County, the tornado was last seen on the ground near Latimer in Morris County. It then lifted and was seen aloft over White City.
“This is the major one they’ll be talking about for quite a while,” May said. “It had a 100-mile-long path.”
According to observers, the tornado was as wide as a half mile at times. If the information proves true when meteorologists survey the damage today, the twister would be in the category of “violent” tornadoes. Only 2 percent of tornadoes are considered violent, yet they cause nearly 70 percent of all fatalities.
Atmospheric conditions favored tornado development nearly all day. Tornado watches were issued for Reno County beginning in the early morning and lasting until 10 p.m.
The lower level of the atmosphere contains generous portions of warm, moist air. The middle level of air is dry, while the upper level contains cold air. At the same time, there was an upper level disturbance in the jet stream.
The dynamics of Tuesday’s storms were a carbon copy of Sunday’s storm, which blew up quickly and damaged property in Reno and Rice counties.
“We knew there would be the possibility today. That’s what prompted the watch.”
Then what about today?
“The current thinking is, we should be OK (Wednesday),” Randall said Tuesday night. “This stuff will last through the night and into the morning, with the possibility (of storms). Once the mid-level dry line moves through, and hopefully does not oscillate back again, we should be OK.”
Residents displaced in Harvey and Reno counties had shelter even before the twister ended its rampage over central Kansas. The American Red Cross from Hutchinson set up shelters at South Hutchinson Methodist Church and at the grade school in Buhler. The South Hutchinson shelter was disbanded by 9 p.m. because no one was using it.
Other shelters were set up at Hesston High School and First Christian Church, McKinley
School and First Mennonite Church, all of Newton.
In addition, the Hutchinson Salvation Army was providing support for the Reno County emergency preparedness command center at Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Co. near Haven.
Reno County crews worked until late Tuesday night moving downed power lines, and removing debris and branches from the county’s roads.
All the county’s road were free of debris by the time crews stopped working, according to Larry Thode, assistant to Reno County Public Works director George Sugars.
He said county crews would return to their cleanup efforts at first light Wednesday morning.
“We’ll work until we’re finished,” Thode said.
It is uncertain where Reno County residents will be able to haul the debris left in the storm’s wake.
“We’re going to have to decide how much there is of it, and decide if we need additional places,” Thode said.
For now, he said, house debris and clean lumber can be hauled to the county burn site, west on 4th Avenue on the east side of the river over the Arkansas River bridge.
Other debris can be hauled to the county landfill on Clark Road.
Path of killer tornado
The tornado that caused the first fatality in Kansas since 1984 started near Pretty Prairie and was last sighted on the ground near Latimer in Morris County about 100 miles away| Eyewitnesses reported the tornado sometimes to be as large as a half-mile wide.

How a Tornado is Formed
A tornadic thunderstorm is usually separated from other thunderstorms or may even be isolated. This separation allows them to feed off warm, moist air from miles around. This air enters the storm at the cloud base below the main storm tower, and above the wall cloud, a lowered, rain-free accessory cloud.
Many wall clouds exhibit rapid upward motion and rotation in the same manner as a tornado, except at considerably slower speeds. As precipitation
begins to occur, downdrafts are created.
In a typical tornadic thunderstorm, a second downdraft forms on the other side of the main updraft. This is the area, near the intersection of the updraft and this "rear-flank" downdraft, where a tornado is most likely to form. Large hail is likely to fall just outside the updraft core.
Tornadoes may also form along the gust front and flanking line, though these are usually weak and short-lived.
Tornado Trail
Sara Quinn/The Wichita Eagle
They aren’t supposed to look like that
By Jim Cross________________________________
The Wichita Eagle
A tornado is not supposed to look like the one that destroyed Hesston.
From a mile away, it should appear as a narrow vortex. Winding down from the clouds to an imaginary point near the earth — where simple geometry says it must cease to exist at all
Not like the one in the picture reprinted here.
Wide as a small town. A coal-colored column on the horizon, indistinctly shaped. Violet and azure at the edges. Indescribable shades, crossing a spectrum of colors from a bruise to a rainbow.
We grow up in Kansas with the weather. No place else has skies like these. The molten, red sunsets. The fireworks of a thunderstorm over the Flint Hills, far from city lights. As children, we learn how unpredictable our weather shall always be. Four intractable seasons divide every year. They struggle among themselves. Hot. Then cold hours later. Quiet one morning. Howling that night. But never the same for long.
We talk about the weather when there is nothing else to say. But we repeat the same, simple phrases. Who can say how we really feel? Bitter about being frozen, baked, disheveled? Proud for being able to take it?
Most of us never see a tornado for ourselves.
Somebody we know did, though. The stories take time to tell They must be profound, like sworn testimony. Stripped of heroics. The speaker must say just what he saw. Exactly where he was standing. How it sounded and how long it lasted.
The forecasters, the cops, the storm-spotters and the firefighters are the experts. They can look up exactly what time the storm started. Explain the physics behind it all. Recite the names and ages of the people killed.
Facts are not what most of us are really after, though. Something is missing there. We turn to the survivors for the true story. They have been singled out As if some great force had picked them for the job. We want to see the tornado through their eyes.
In photos, the survivors are caught pointing away to something outside the picture. Not here, you fool, they seem to say — over there!
After the storm, a man and wife stand in their driveway. Their house is in ruins. He puts his arm around her, feels her shoulder against his own.
Does he whisper something to her?
National Guardsmen in camouflage uniforms seem out of place. They look alert, defensive. As if just by being there they keep the storm from coming back.
An overturned car blocks a street Children come close to look. They lose interest and turn away. They step on boards and broken glass.
The flat Kansas landscape has been made flatter by the storm, as if nothing tall were meant to last
Thursday, March 15, 1990 THE WICHITA EAGLE
Seen in this sequence of photos taken from about a mile away, Tuesday's tornado advances toward Hesston.
The southwest side of Hesston is hit by the twister, which
R. Wade Balzer/Correspondent
Spewing out debris, the tornado plows through the city before moving to the northeast and Goessel.
Kansas' Worst Twisters
May 25, 1955
"The tiny town of Udall died in its sleep last night" was the wire-service lead for the worst disaster in Kansas history. The tornado near the Sumner-Cowley county line left about 80 people dead and as many as 500 injured and inflicted $2.25 million in damage.
May 30, 1879
Irving, near the Marshall-Ottawa county line; 66 dead, 50 injured.
May 5, 1905
McPherson and Ellsworth counties; 29 dead,
May 17, 1896
Washington and
May 25, 1917
Sedgwick and Marion
June 10, 1958
A twister slammed into El Dorado's Oil Hill and nearby residential areas; 15 killed, 50 injured.
June 8, 1966
A tornado sliced through downtown Topeka, killing 12 or 13 people, injuring 600 and leaving 2,000 homeless. The $100 million damage estimate is the highest in state history. Windows in the Capitol dome and roofs at Washburn University were swept away.
Andale; 12 dead.
Nov. 11, 1917
Great Bend; 11 dead.
June 8, 1974
Emporia; six killed, 177 injured; a shopping center, 90 homes, five apartment houses and 98 mobile homes were destroyed; 135 homes were damaged.
History of Kansas tornadoes
By Sara Peterson
The Hutchinson News
As any Kansan knows, tornadoes are nothing new to the state, but that doesn’t make them any easier to predict.
In the past 40 years, 1,658 tornadoes have been spotted in the state, causing 176 deaths and 1,877 injuries, according to the National Weather Service.
While most tornadoes occur during May and June, funnels can form and strike at any time of the year.
The state averages about 42 tornadoes each year.
Tornadoes in past years have been reported as early as February, but Tuesday’s was the earliest storm in the season to have deaths linked with it.
Before that, according to weather service statistics, the earliest killer tornado was on March 15. That 1982 twister left two people dead in Cherokee and Crawford counties, in the southeast part of the state.
The last major recorded tornado to hit that corner of Kansas in March was in 1938.
On March 30, 1938, a storm cut a
swath through Labette and Chero-
kee counties in extreme southeastern Kansas, hitting the town of Columbus and leaving 10 dead and 150 injured.
Since 1916, three major tornadic storms crossed central Kansas, leaving death and destruction in their paths, according to the weather service.
On May 25, 1917, a tornado passed through the southeast corner of Harvey and Marion counties after hitting the city of Goddard in Sedgwick County. The storm left 23 dead.
Ten years later, May 7, 1927, a tornado touched down in Comanche County and then ripped a path through Barber, Kingman, Reno and McPherson counties.
The town of Kingman was in the tornado’s path. That storm left more than 10 people dead and 300 injured.
The tornado that cut one of the longest paths in Kansas history began in Rice County on Sept. 25, 1973, tearing a 150-mile northeasterly trail, striking Salina.
Before dying out in southeastern Nebraska, the tornado left three dead and 53 injured.
Before Tuesday, the state had no tornado-related deaths since Oct. 31, 1984, when a tornado hit Carbondale, a town of 1,500 directly south of Topeka.
Since 1916, there has not been a tornado-related fatality reported in Reno County, according to the weather service.
Harvey County had three recorded fatalities before Tuesday’s storm, all from the storm that hit
the county in 1917. That storm was a part of a larger system that left 250 dead in eight states.
McPherson County had only one recorded tornado-related fatality — from a June 8, 1950, storm.
The worst recorded tornado in the state’s history hit the town of Udall on May 25, 1955. The twister destroyed the small town in north east Cowley County. The storm killed 80 and left 270 injured.
counties; 23 dead.
The Hutchinson News July 21, 1990
Hesston Outbreak: a revised look
Researcher disputes twisters’ paths
Findings contradict earlier theory
By Ray Hemman
The Hutchinson News
Last March, Hesston escaped twin paths of tornado destruction by two minutes or less, according to research by a Pratt meteorologist who has spent the last four months studying the Hesston Outbreak.
Jon Davies, a former television meteorologist with a Wichita station and the Weather Channel, has mapped out the paths of the tornadoes that hit in and around Hesston on March 13. His research differs from that released shortly after the outbreak by WeatherData Inc., a private
meteorological service in Wichita.
Based on his research, Davies has concluded that a second tornado touched down just northeast of Hesston instead of east of the city. The second tornado’s touchdown was in an open field east northeast of the 1-135 interchange in Hesston. The second tornado moved along the ground about 2 miles before converging with the first tornado, the one. that had hit Hesston moments earlier.
The convergence of the two twisters created a third, much stronger tornado, said Davies, a Pratt businessman. He is president of Regional Respiratory Services Division of Davies, a firm his family owns.
Had the second tornado dropped out of the sky a minute or two earlier, it would have
blasted a path of destruction through Hesston’s north end, roughly parallel to the strip the first twister cut through the city’s center. The Hesston Corp.
facility would have taken a direct hit from the twister.
“I have some photographs of circulation in clouds that are over north Hesston,” Davies said Friday. “What that tells me is there was a good bit of circulation in the cloud over the Hesston Corp. Some of the people on the north side of Hesston might be very fortunate that it did not touch down one to two minutes earlier."
Both the tornadoes that ultimately converged to create the massive super tornado were calculated to be of F4 intensity,
Continued from Page 1
based on the seven-step Fujita
Scale. The scale was developed by University of Chicago researcher Ted Fujita.
An F4 tornado is considered “devastating,” with wind, speeds of
207 to 260 mph. When the two twisters converged to create one
tornado, the result was an F5, with winds of 261 to 318 mph that were
capable of “incredible” damage, including structural damage to steel-reinforced concrete buildings.
After extensive interviews with eyewitnesses and searching through the dozens of photographs
and videotapes of the twisters,
Davies has concluded that the tornado was an F5 for only a short
period of time — roughly 3 miles — from a point 1 1/2 miles south of Goessel to a point 1 1/2 miles east of
East of Goessel, the twister’s strength dissipated, and it was only in the F1 to F2 category by the time it lifted near Marion Lake. An
F1 tornado has winds of 73 to 112 mph, and an F2 has winds of 113 to 157 mph. A fourth tornado was spawned by the storm northeast of Marion Lake, and it lifted near Alta Vista in northeast Kansas. The storm originated near Pretty Prairie.
Davies said he met with an assistant to Fujita earlier this week.
The assistant told Davies that the tornado expert thought the Kansan’s mapping of the tornadoes was basically correct and Fujita and his assistants would update their work based on those maps.
When contacted Friday, Mike Smith, president of WeatherData Inc. said he had, not seen Davies' maps but that he stood by his company’s work. That work was based on an aerial survey, photographs and interview and was released in April.
Smith’s findings showed a second tornado touching down east of Hesston, based on striations in the ground found in a field. Smith's findings also suggested that the
paths of the two tornadoes crossed,
a theory that Davies’ findings contradict.
But Davies said videotapes from Hesston residents Nelson Dreier and Bobbie Harries showed the two
separate twisters coming together to make one large twister. A check of evidence on the ground confirms, what the eye sees in the videos, he added.
Davies also doubted a claim made by WeatherData officials that a microburst saved Hesston College
(See map pertaining to this article on next page.)
(Map pertains to article, previous page.)
Hesston, Kans. April 12, 1990
Mike Smith Channel 3 TV
I saw your explanation over TV of how the March 13 tornado was headed for Hesston College, then veered north and hit the north part of Hesston instead.
That makes an interesting story, "but it ain’t necessarily so."
It didn’t agree with what I had remembered seeing, so I went out and double checked. I went about 2 miles south west of Hesston and sighted along the storm damage due north east, and it hit Hesston between the two water towers and followed the damage to the Harvey County line.
I drew a straight red line on the enclosed maps.
I can't see how it could have gone off course. We live at Schowalter Villa, which is just south of Hesston College, and we are very thankful to God that we were spared, but how do you think it makes the residents in the middle of Hesston feel when they hear your story?
Leo H. Hostetler
A note from Mike Smith
Dear Hr, Hostetler:
Thank you for your letter and the map.
WeatherData, Inc. 825 N. Main Wichita, Kansas 67203 (316)265-9127 FAX (316)265-0371
Hesston Outbreak: a revised look
An intense tornado rips through Hesston while a second tunnel equally as strong remains in the clouds.
Northeast of Hesston the second tornado emerges from the clouds. The two powerful tornadoes travel on parallel paths for about two
In the southeast corner of McPherson County, the two tornadoes converge and create one incredibly powerful tornado.
A B C | D
202 Jantz, Wes and Phyllis 428 Erb
203 Birkey, Marlin and Cherie
204 Welton, Ray 204 Roupp Street
205 Achilles, Michael 501 Weaver
206 Boyer, Carl 101 Hess
207 Swartzendruber, Stan & Sharon
208 Janzen, Richard and Charlene
Once again, 0 God, we gather in this place as your people. But we are not the same people we were last week. We have been visited and violated by a force of nature we did not invite. A force invoked by large and unusual air masses and currents that we do not even understand. Yet it came and in a way is still here because our lives have not recovered.
Our lives feel like a photograph of scattered debris. We are here and there and even lost. Part of us is still huddled in a basement, a corner, or walk-in freezer, listening to frightening noises. Or waiting along the road outside of town watching. Or racing home in a car, trying to imagine.
Part of us is still worrying about friends and family across town. Or wandering through rubble or dirty streets not quite believing yet that this has really happened to us. Wanting, even on our way to church today, to find things the way they were last week.
Part of us still feels the relief of being alive, reassuring others over the phone, telling our story over and over.
Part of us is wondering. Why our town? Why was our home destroyed? Or, why was our home spared? Wondering at the miraculous way so many individuals survived when death was so close.
Part of us feels exposed. As a town, our roof has been lifted, our walls knocked down, our privacy gone. The hundreds of volunteers are here with desperately needed help and care. The National Guard was here. The newspeople showed our pictures and told our stories to the world around us. The onlookers came and left.
Part of us feels loss. Loss of homes, the places we always felt secure. Loss of possessions, things we were attached to, that we invested part of our lives in. Loss of memories. Loss of regular schedules and activities.
Part of us feels weariness. We are tired from cleaning up, from caring in many ways for victims and volunteers. We have felt the excitement, the adrenalin that keeps us going in times like this, but it is running out.
And so, in the midst of all our feelings of fear, anger, pain, and uncertainty, part of us is looking this morning. Looking for regularity. Looking for things that have not changed. Looking to see if you, God, are still the same.
Come and find us, God. Come to us as a gentle wind this morning. A wind that can gather together our scattered parts. That can soothe our bodies and spirits. A wind in which we can catch our breath.
Phil Harrington Whitestone Mennonite Church March 18, 1990
Fred Obold Rick Saylor Ronald Guengerich Phil Harrington Lynn Jost Keith Redding Herb Minnich Ken Strong Wes Jantz Tom Shane
Fred Obold Brenda Glanzer Gerry Sharp Ronald Guengerich Ken Livengood Keith Redding Vernon Lohrentz Tom Shane
Church there for tornado victims
Robert Carlson, D. Min. and Thomas Shane, D. Div.
March 13, 1990, at about 5:40 p.m., one of the most powerful tornadoes ever known to exist approached the town of Hesston, veered slightly, and continued through the northwest section of this small community. Many homes and businesses were destroyed or damaged. Though no lives were lost in Hesston, two
people, one in Burrton and one in Goessel, did die as a result of the storm.
The community sat stunned during most of the evening. Before darkness fell, citizens, including the local clergy, were combing the streets to make sure everyone was accounted for.
Immediately on the morning of the 14th, the Hesston clergy -Lynn Jost, Rick Saylor, Ron Guengerich, Phil Harrington, Fred Obold, Herb Minnich, Keith Redding and Ken Strong - met together in one of the churches. Tom Shane, of the Prairie View staff, who had spent most of the night with emergency and law enforcement personnel, joined the Hesston pastors in this meeting.
The pastors immediately worked at assessing problems, identifying needs, coordinating local resources and speaking in advocacy for those who might lack adequate resources.
For the next two weeks, the clergy met almost daily. This meeting was a place where the mayor, the school superintendent, EMS supervisors, police and law enforcement repre-
sentatives, representatives of Mennonite Disaster Service, Red Cross and Salvation Army could gather.
Community bondedness was strong. Long hours and little sleep typified the next few days.
Sunday, all churches held services and in each case, it was a time of special meaning, of prayers of thanksgiving, sharing of tears and telling the story.
In retrospect, what can we say has been learned from the experience of these hard-working and committed pastors?
1. The church stepped into the gap, playing a role in finding people who fell between the cracks. The pastoral task was to help coordinate the many caring resources that soon became available to the town.
2. The pastors provided inspiration and reassurance. They moved around town, shaking hands, commending people, lifting a shovel, carrying bricks, piling debris. It was everyone’s task and their participation blessed it.
3. These pastors helped congregations redefine their identity through the work of caring. The church buildings became the gathering and distribution places for food, clothing, counseling and shelter. In the first few days after the storm, the churches were genuine sanctuaries for people with physical needs and emotional exhaustion.
4. Each congregation also became a sanctuary for listening
and sharing. These pastors all had a remarkable ability to understand and celebrate the value of storytelling. Several congregations set aside time for an evening meal for people to talk about their losses, their feelings and their confusion.
5. Every congregation had its losses, but those who lost property and those who didn’t all went through an emotional crisis together. They created a fabric where giving and receiving happened and affirmed the nature of the spiritual community.
6. The church gained credibility through this event. People were impressed by the pastors’ and congregations’ ability to care for one another. But as one pastor said, "God took a beating." Any destructive event such as this creates a crisis of faith. Why were some homes destroyed and others spared? Why did the tornado veer just southwest of town, thus altering the path of its destruction? The
event became a time to reexamine beliefs, to rediscover and redefine hope, to learn about giving and receiving help, and finally, to learn about how to live with unanswered questions in the mystery of life.
And the task still goes on. By now, Hesston, Kansas, though not yet rebuilt, is well on its way to physical recovery. Like every trauma, however, it has left its mark. But it has also opened the possibility of significant learning about the nature of God and God’s work in the world.
"The churches were genuine sanctuaries for people with physical needs and emotional exhaustion. "
"The event became a time to reexamine God and nature, to rediscover and redefine hope..."
An Overview of Disaster Response for United Methodists
Disaster strikes! Newspapers and television report the event. They report the loss. Loss of lives. Loss of homes. Loss in terms of dollars. What they do not say is that disasters happen to people. Much of the loss is not measurable in terms of dollars. People suffer the loss.
Response to disaster has many actors and continues through three major stages: emergency, relief and recovery.
as United
Methodists, we are best suited to work in these areas. We have congregations in almost every county in the United States. Other denominations help with volunteers, with funding, with facilities, with pastoral care, but no other denomination has the network large enough to make sure that people suffering the trauma of disaster feel the caring presence of the church.
Summary reflections from UMCOR Disaster Response to the results of the Tornado which hit the Hesston. KS. area March 13, 1990, based on mv observations
March 21 - March 31, 1990.
Kathleen Clark Church and Community Worker
During the final 30 minutes of my drive to Hesston, KS, on Route 15, I began to search for signs of the massive tornado which had devastated that area. Sure enough, I saw trees which were broken and torn, crop land which showed definite signs of distress, smoke from the Hesston city dump/land fill and finally as I drove into the northeast part of Hesston I saw physical building destructive results of the March 13th tornado. Though the major clean -up had been done, the visible signs of empty lots which had been covered with houses and businesses, boarded up broken windows, crews working to replace roofs, battered cars, stumps of trees, all became a regular scene in my sight the next several days. Home video tapes provided actual scenes of the tornado and immediate clean up activities -- a major catastrophe.
I had been alerted by Elaine Barnes late Sunday evening, March 18th, as I returned home from a two day meeting in Washington, D.C., that there was a distinct possibility that I would be needed in UMCOR disaster response work in Hesston and she was calling to request that I clear my calendar so I could respond to the need. The days were cleared to be in Hesston until April 31st when I was scheduled to do a Rural Revitalization Workshop in Holdon, KS.
I am gratefully appreciative to United Methodist Pastor Rick Saylor and his wife, Jan for their hospitality extended to me in so many ways. Rick helped me get in touch with basic issues unique to the Hesston area both pre-and post tornado. He introduced me to the members of the Ministerial Alliance: four Mennonite pastors and three associates and Rick, the UM
pastor. That group was the one to which I was accountable; they set the agenda for the tornado disaster response services for Hesston area as designated by the city leaders; they determined my job description for the time I was there.
As an UMCOR Disaster Response team worker from the Church and Community Ministry, I was an unknown quality, but the connectional entity was evident. Based on faith, training and commitment, I felt accepted into the Hesston community to do ministry as was needed and appropriate to the occasion at that time.
Mv Role as an UMCOR Disaster Response Worker:
Analyzer of disaster efforts;
Coordinator of available resources;
Public Relations connector with agencies in Hesston & Harvey County;
Enabler to help consolidate Hesston disaster services into a central location from the original church locations;
Develop accounting procedure the Hesston Tornado Victims Fund and the local receiving bank;
Pastoral Care to victims and volunteers;
Set-up process for "Thank-You's" to 900+ who gave gifts and money;
Coordinate and set up computer financial aid spreadsheet with Dale Hochstetler, chair of Financial Aid Com. and Karen Unruh, UMC secretary;
Enable a smooth transition for a paid Disaster Center Coordinator.
Evaluation summary of daily agenda items to HMA
Support needed to do an effective job:
Welcomed and affirmed by pastors of Hesston Ministerial Alliance;
Basic understanding of my role by HMA clergy, coordinators of local disaster services, city officals, victims and volunteers, freedom to resource needs;
Good support from UMC, especially Rick Saylor, UM local pastor, Chuck Winkler, KS-W Conference Director, and Karen Unruh, local UMC secretary.
Special support from Mennonites: Pastor Fred Obold and Evelyn Rouner, the Disaster Center Coordinator who took over as I was leaving.
My Experience:
Again expanded and renewed my skills to minister to victims and workers in the tornado disaster area of Hesston, KS;
Re-enforced the value of United Methodist Church connectional system to respond to U.S. disaster with money and workers;
Past experience at Watsonville, CA earthquake disaster enabled me to interpret and analyze needs of people and conditions;
Had greater understanding of available disaster services and the uniquenesses of each;
- Accepted role as "the expert" with "authority myth" to request needed support for overworked pastors who were doing excellent ministry in caring for others though selves were victims;
I also needed and took space and time to disengage from local
Key Results:
Felt confidence in UMCOR disaster response worker role;
Concern for IA work left undone; it had to wait till my return;
I was on-site UMCOR representative so UMC could see local action;
Basic CCW disaster training was minimal but good "on-the-job" trg.;
Able to ask "hard" questions to enable effective and helpful actions;
Built a "confidant" role with pastors, victims and workers;
Heard personal tornado stories; can interpret as part of mission role of CCW/UMCOR;
In my unique role I advised church leaders of needs of pastoral care for local pastors;
Praised local pastors who did excellent leadership roles for church and community;
- Became very sensitive to anger/grief/loss process and how that affects day-to-day life for all victims and workers in time of disaster and following.
Personal Reflection:
I came as a stranger to the people of Hesston. Though they had recent numerous volunteers, they made room for me and welcomed me into their lives. That time I spent in ministering to various needs of victims and workers, I felt that renewed life which was being created would bring an acute sensitivity to the God's great gift of life in both physical and spiritual dimensions. I came away from Hesston with the belief that a community and rebuilding spirit for the future began as soon as the violent winds had subsided and the still small silence after the storm was being heard.
God's Blessings be with you all,
Kathleen Clark, Church and Community Worker The United Methodist Church, Iowa Conference
Chuck Winkler, Kansas West Conference of the United Methodist Church
I am the Director of the Annual Conference Council on Ministries and serve as the Conference Disaster Coordinator. I will share my involvement that came about as a result of the tornado of March 13.
March 14-1 went to Hesston and visited with Rick Saylor, U.M. pastor.
March 15 - The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) was called by Bishop Hicks to request someone to come and help assess the damage and direct our response.
March 16 - Sue Jones from UMCOR and I visited the Hesston Ministerial Alliance meeting and, later with Rick, talked to some city officials about what was happening and where we stood with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Sue and I were also in Burrton. I requested and received $5,000 from our Conference Disaster Fund for use by the Hesston Church. We also requested $5,000 from UMCOR and received it on Monday.
March 18 - Sue and I attended and spoke during worship at the United Methodist Church.
March 19 - Sue and I met with the Ministerial Alliance and discussed the needs. It was becoming evident that someone would be needed to help the Ministerial Alliance coordinate the ongoing work. Sue, Rick and I decided to request from UMCOR that a "Church and Community Worker" trained in disaster response come and give guidance to the ongoing relief effort. Rick had previously made this offer to the group and it was accepted. UMCOR provides these persons for up to two weeks.
March 20-1 met with the Finance Committee to discuss appropriate guidelines for their application for aid.
March 21 - Sue Jones left. Kathleen Clark, an UMCOR Church and Community Worker, arrived.
March 22-1 met with Kathleen Clark and the Ministerial Alliance to
clarify expectations. Kathleen provided guidance until she left on March 30.
March 29-1 met with Kathleen and Evelyn Rouner who was replacing Kathleen.
March 30-I met briefly with the Ministerial Alliance since Kathleen was leaving and Evelyn was coming on board.
Throughout the days listed above I was in telephone and personal contact with five pastors in other communities about damage there and how our conference might respond. Finally, on April 16, I distributed $28,000 from our funds to three communities; most of it to Burrton. Additional funds may still be made available.
Kansas Tornado Brings MDS Home
Hesston Laypeople Started Agency 40 Years Ago
By Marjorie A. Jantzen
Staff Writer
HESSTON, KAN.—Mennonite Disaster Service came home to its roots last week.
And after the tornado, some of the first MDS volunteers clutched others’ hands extended to them “in the name of Christ.”
MDS, now matured into a well-organized, widely recognized agency throughout North America, was conceived in July 1950 by people from the Hesston area. The idea was born during a Sunday school picnic held by the young married couples’ class from the Pennsylvania (now Whitestone) Mennonite Church.
The discussion that day centered on the idea of a peace-honoring way to meet need in the surrounding community. Sunday school members who had served in Civilian Public Service during World War II were convinced that such opportunities for service should be sought.
THE PENNSYLVANIA Church class shared the idea with its counterpart at Hesston Mennonite Church during a joint picnic Aug. 8. The classes met several immediate financial needs, but the group wanted a more practical means of service.
Five men—Harold Dyck, Paul Shenk, Allen Diller and teachers Daniel Kauffman and Fred S. Brenneman—were appointed to prepare a statement of purpose for their tiny new movement.
The statement was sent to Mennonite Central Committee and to the Mennonite Relief Committee of Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities. The agencies expressed little enthusiasm and directed the classes to South Central Conference (MC).
THE STATEMENT of purpose was read to the conference assembly on Aug. 17 at Pleasant Valley Church, Harper. The conference encouraged the two Sunday school classes to continue searching for a way to implement their idea during a probationary period. Some people in the conference believed (his new movement might bypass the church.
The conference asked the five-man committee to prepare a constitution and present it for consideration. The constitution was adopted in December 1950 and the fledgling organization had a name—Mennonite Service Organization.
Men interested in serving Tilled out questionnaires. John A. Diller of Hesston, wheelchair-bound due to a farm accident years earlier, was appointed coordinator.
THERE WERE NO disasters for nearly a year after the Sunday school

"More often than not the response to MDS ’ work has been expressions of appreciation for Christian principles and the love of God.

picnics. Enthusiasm ebbed. Then in May 1951 the Little Arkansas River in Wichita threatened to overflow its banks due to heavy rains.
Diller recalls: “I think Lyle Yost was chairman of MSO. About 4:30 p.m. on May 17) he called to tell me he was going to Wichita, that I should call volunteers. About 6 o’clock, he called back and said he had promised 15 men and one truck.
“I passed this information along to the Meridian Church of God in Christ; Mennonite, and to Eden Church at Moundridge. All responded and by 11 o’clock we had 45 men and four trucks in Wichita. The men’s main work was building sandbag dikes.”
ONE OF THE volunteers who drove his truck to Wichita that evening was Bob Diller, manager of Kropf Lumber Co. Last week, nearly 40 years later, men brought trucks to help him after his house was demolished by the tornado that ripped through Hesston.
MSO’s second call to service came from Great Bend on May 24 after heavy rains in the area. “I believe the men’s sandbagging efforts helped save the city,” Diller says.
On Dec. 26 representatives from Mennonite churches in a 40-mile radius of Hesston met at Hesston Manufacturing Co. to set up a list of men who could help the MCC unit in north Topeka rebuild flood-damaged houses.
In March 1952 a tornado ripped through White County, Ark. Peter J. Dyck, pastor of Eden Mennonite Church, called Diller and asked, “What are we going to do about Arkansas?”
A MEETING was held March 31 at Hesston College’s Hess Memorial Hall to organize volunteers to be sent to White County. At the meeting a Temporary Disaster Committee was appointed to represent and guide the volunteers in the work in Arkansas, to be prepared in the event of another disaster, to be composed of two men from each branch of the MCC constituent churches that wanted to cooperate and to organize
itself with a chairman and a secretary-treasurer.
Ninety-three Mennonite men helped rebuild eight homes for aged, widowed or handicapped residents in White County.
In May 1953 Mennonite volunteers from Kansas helped residents of Hebron, Neb., clean up and then rebuild after a tornado devastated that city.
“Galen Rudiger worked out plans for the total operation with the mayor of Hebron, and their plan worked well,” recalls Diller. “We had good response from our volunteers, and it was a good experience for MSO."
THE MOVEMENT in Kansas did not go unnoticed by Mennonites in other areas of the country. They also began to organize for disaster relief efforts. It soon became apparent that coordination and encouragement were necessary on a national level.
MCC called the first meeting of representatives of the various groups for March 2, 1955, at the Hotel Atlantic in Chicago. At that meeting, one representative from each of the constituent groups was recommended by MCC. This plan remains the basis for national cooperation.
At the national meeting in February 1962, MSO was reorganized as Mennonite Disaster Service under MCC, with an executive coordinator and executive committee. North America was divided into six regions comparable to the regions of the American Red Cross, with which MSO had cooperated since its early projects.
MDS “just grew,” says Diller. “We do more good to get [to a disaster area) right away and give victims support and hope than to wait for government people to come in.
“MDS HAS BEEN good for the people who served. Response from
the people who received help has been gratifying. More often than not this response has been deeper than expressions of appreciation for work done. They have been expressions of appreciation for Christian principles and (he love of God.”
After a tornado lore through a section of Wichita in 1965, Diller received this letter from a businessman: “On visiting [my neighbors’ and friends’ damaged] homes, I was amazed, gratified and thankful to find that members of your disaster service were already there and working.
“Not having been previously aware of your volunteer organization, I was considerably touched to see men and women of all ages giving so freely of themselves to help others they had never met and in all probability would never see again.
“It helped to renew a faith in human nature which has often been sorely tried. Although my proud heritage is that of Judaism, I would like for the enclosed donation to go to your church for continued good work.”
The Mennonite Disaster Service bus stands ready early in the morning on the day after the Hesston tornado. As many as 10,000 people volunteered through MDS in the week that followed the disaster.
(Review photo)
As a concerned neighbor and Kansas MDS Chairman. I immediately went to investigate the damages in Hesston. Talking to various people. I knew the damage was very severe. That same night we went to get another committee member and we set up our MDS equipment and made plans for the next morning. Throughout the time we continually checked damages and found places that needed help, not only in Hesston. but in surrounding areas as well. MDS s main job was to clean up in Hesston city as well as to walk fields in the surrounding areas. We always work together with Red Cross. Salvation Army, local churches, etc. We also worked with the finance committee and surveyed the rural areas and distributed money to victims.
Submitted by Mrs. Irvin Harms for Irvin Harms
Kansas House Commends MDS
Mennonite Weekly Review / April 26, 1990 / Page 3
Kansas Mennonite Disaster Service chairman Irvin Harms receives a resolution adopted by the Kansas House of Representatives from Rep. Ellen Samuelson of Hesston. The resolution, adopted April 6, summarizes the 40-year history of MDS and commends MDS for its response to the March 13 tornado that struck central Kansas. Rep. Thomas Walker also sponsored the resolution.
The resolution recognizes the five men who served on the original MDS committee in 1950: Harold Dyck, Paul Shenk, Allen Diller, Daniel Kauffman and Fred S. Brenneman. Dyck is a former member of the Kansas House of Representatives.
After the recent tornado, the resolution states, "Hesston citizens, some of whom were participants in the founding, growth and development of MDS, found themselves on the receiving end of the volunteer disaster service which they themselves had initiated and developed. . . . The efforts of MDS to assist disaster victims quickly, efficiently and without fanfare are the best indication of the volunteers' love of God and their strong adherence to serving their fellow beings." (Review photo)

We struggle with expressing the concept of providence.
Does God send providential circumstances like tornados?
Does he allow them in his "permissive will"? Are they the work of the devil? Are they part of the cosmic conflict between the forces of evil and the army of God?
We all have a story: a tornado-flattened home; a child lost to death; infertility; unsaved family members; a wayward child; even a change in ministry assignment.
Is this of God? Is God testing me? Am I really hearing God’s voice? What is a faithful response of growth in this test? The tests are moments preparing us for tomorrow. We are constantly in preparation for the next test of life. We are continually equipped by the present for our God-provided future.
In testing experiences God protects with eagle wings.
Parent eagles move nestlings ready to learn to fly to the edge of the precariously perched nests. As the young flutter and flounder, hurtling to the rocks below, the adult birds dive to rescue their offspring, then soar to begin the process once more.
The God who tests is the God who graciously provides. Brueggemann asserts, "In a world beset by humanism, scientism, and naturalism, the claim that God alone provides is as scandalous as the claim that he tests."
The Hebrew verb translated "provide" (ra’ah) is more often rendered "see." Not only does God provide a sacrificial ram by seeing ahead, but he provides significance by allowing Abraham to "see" his mysterious God. Through verse 10 the narrator refers to God with the more general title ("Elohim," also translated "gods" in Psalm 82). In verse 11 there is a new, personal name to refer to the Divine Person ("Jehovah," or "Yahweh").
Not only does Abraham see a ram caught in the thicket.
He has the dynamic if serendipitous experience of encountering the Provider personally.
The God Abraham discovers is a mystery. He is the God who is willing to be a risk-taker. He risks the promise on the faithfulness of humans. Yes, he risks his church by entrusting it to us. He risks the plans and programs of a congregation by allowing a tornado test. He risks his people’s loyalty by permitting the tests listed above.
He can risk those tests today because he, too, once risked a Son of promise. Like Isaac, Jesus was an only son. He also carried the wood for the sacrifice on his back. He trudged up the same hillside in the region of Moriah (Calvary was little more than a stone’s throw from the Temple built on Moriah). The God who tests/provides risked his Son through the crucifixion/resurrection.
God’s confidence of escape and growth through tests is ours through Christ. Our questions, our rebuilding, emerge in a new light when we understand that we have a God who is seen when he provides in testing times. We are transformed without consent because "God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it" (I Cor. 10:13). 44
The Salvation Army
Founded in 1865 Lt. Colonel Harry J. Smith Divisional Commander, Kansas Western Missouri
101 West Linwood Blvd. • P.O. Box 412577 • Kansas City, Mo. 64141-2577 • 516/756-1455
April 27, 1990
It has been almost a month since the terrible destruction of your lovely community, and more important, of the place you call home. Hopefully, things are more settled for you, you are putting all the pieces back into place, and life has begun again.
Perhaps, you have found that some pieces are still missing and you are finding it impossible to put them into place with your current resources. We want to help.
Funds have been made available to you through The Salvation Army from people who care and want to help you during this recovery period. We cannot, however, serve you on their behalf unless we know your needs. There is rarely a request that we are not able to meet in some way or another, until funding runs out:
new clothing/shoes beds/dressers/bedding other furniture/appliances
housing (i.e. rent, purchase or assistance with the purchase of a trailer, etc.)
car repairs (due to limited insurance, no insurance, or delays
in insurance—coupled with immediate transportation problems) equipment repair (i.e. farm machinery, other work related equipment) medical equipment necessary for family member assistance in contracting for spring planting bicycle/tricycle school equipment and supplies
We are anxious to help you make the picture complete. Don't be too proud to ask—the people of Kansas want you to have it, and so do we.
Contact The Salvation Army at 283-3190—208 W. 6th., Newton, Kansas or (816) 756-1455, extension 16, TODAY.
HESSTON DISASTER CENTER c/o Hesston Ministerial Alliance 420 W. Lincoln Blvd. Hesston, KS 67062
Dear Friends;
You should have received a letter from Salvation Army this week detailing now they can still assist you.
If you did not receive this letter pleaSe let me know.
Red Cross is no longer available. They are working only with Small Business Loans.
On May 10 we will close the Food Pantry at H.F.I.
We do have canned goods to share and will continue to serve until that supply is exhausted. PLEASE COME
If you have uninsured losses to report, please come to the office in the White Office Building and we will give you an application. Reporting your losses car. be helpful to us as we prepare our reports.
Please call if we can be of any assistance.
Evelyn Rouner 327—6441
The Salvation Army
Serving Since 1880 Kansas-Western Missouri Division
COORDINATOR May 24, 1990
FROM: Kay Sholders
The Salvation Army Service Extension Director and the Salvation Army Board responded immediately on March 13th. Within the hour, the Board members were on the scene with sandwiches, coffee, and rolls. The board members, friends, etc. (50 volunteers) gave over 00 hours to the community of Hesston.
The Salvation Army helped served the meals at the High School, Church, etc. Also helped with the canteen that took meals, fruit, snacks, etc. out to the areas for two weeks.
At the Hay & Forage Bldg. The Salvation Army was given two offices. From there we served the community with assistance. We helped with rent, trailer homes, appliances General Merchandise vouchers to each family, furniture, etc. Pizza Hut gave us vouchers for each family in the disaster for two medium pizzas, twice a week, for eight weeks. Families really appreciated this gift.
Since leaving Hesston and moving back to our office in
Newton, we have helped with some farm machinery, fence, cars, grass seed, etc. Besides the material things we gave to the community, we listened and gave encouragement to the people.
The motto of The Salvation Army is "To Save and to Serve" We plan to continue to serve the people in the disaster area while they are building back their homes and their lives.
The Salvation Army is not afraid of work but like to be recognized for what we do. I feel that The Salvation Army Service Unit from Newton has done well working with not much equipment. There was a benefit Auction June 1st with part of the proceeds given to The Salvation Army Disaster Equipment Fund. Now, we can get some of the things that we will need in the future. Personally,
I’m proud of The Salvation Army Advisory Board of Newton. It would be hard to give any statistics on how many people we helped because we are still getting requests and are still helping the people in the community.
208 West Sixth Street
P.O. Box 245
Newton, Ks. 67114
Central Kansas Tornados, DR #108 (March 13, 1990)
April 12, 1990
This past Monday—it was a dark and stormy night and...not much damage— actually we called off any disaster because no one had the energy to deal with another Hesston!
Early in the evening on March 13th, most of Wichita was listening to the many news reports of severe weather in the area. The disaster staff were also tuned in to those reports. Then there was the excited reporter describing the tornado (or tornados) on the ground and then going through Hesston. One! We knew that Hesston had been hit! Two! We still had a tornado warning in effect for the Wichita area and still there was severe weather in the area. Our Disaster Action Teams were already on alert to move into the area of damage.
Within a short time we had four vehicles and ten personnel on the way to Hesston, loaded with 120 cots and blankets, the makings for a couple 100 sandwiches and hot and cold drinks, and other necessary supplies, in order to set up a shelter. Shortly after setting up the cots in the Hesston High School we had an emergency request from several sources to send up 200 more cots and blankets. There were several hundred people at the High School— the situation was bad!
The chapter started getting calls, almost immediately, from the public wanting to help. There were offers of all kinds of help, from people to generators and food and clothes—and food and clothes.... We also started receiving requests for welfare reports on specific individuals who live in the area.
As the evening wore on, several decisions were obvious. (1) A shelter was needed; (2) A feeding operation for victims and workers would be needed; (3) Damage Assessment was necessary; 1st, a preliminary assessment that night, which should tell us the general size and scope of the disaster, and 2nd, a house by house assessment, starting at first light Wednesday morning. (4) Casework assistance to individual families would be needed; (5) More disaster staff/volunteers would be needed, including the following specialties: feeding, shelter, nursing, casework, damage assessment.
Several staff/volunteers started telephoning and lining up staff/volunteers for the following days.
Midwestern Operational Headquarters of the Red Cross in St. Louis was notified. When I got to Hesston, about 1:00 a.m., things had quieted down. There were only six people sleeping in the shelter. Friends, neighbors, relatives, and other had opened their doors to the disaster victims, giving them a place to stay. This is not unusual in the midwest, but a little surprising since several hundred people needed this. Now we were aware that the disaster situation had a lot of local support!
At the end of the first night we had sent seven vehicles and 16 staff/volunteers to Hesston.
After a long night, it was an early morning Damage Assessment group that completed the house by house survey of the damage. We had more than 300 homes affected, with more than half being destroyed or with major damage (this was unusually high).
The feeding operation was in full force, with the combined efforts of the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Southern Baptists, Mennonites, and the Methodists. A total of 14,000 meals were served at the fixed site at the
High School, and through the process of Mobile Feeding. Much of the food was donated by individuals and businesses from as far away as Arkansas.
The nurses were involved from the beginning by staffing the shelter which lasted three days, mostly used by the National Guard. In total, the nurses worked with 65 cases, including the injured and two dead.
The Casework, or as we call it, the Family Service Center opened Wednesday, also in the High School. THis is where the individual family comes in for an interview by one of our workers and, after a brief discussion, a permanent case record is completed and the family leaves with a Red Cross purchase order to the merchant of their choice for their emergency needs. The goal is to provide the basic elements necessary in order for the family to establish itself again in a home. This is all free of any charge to the family. The nurses also provide for lost eye glasses, dentures, prescriptions, and other medical needs caused by the tornado. Again, all of this is free.
The Family Service Center remained open for 17 days in Hesston, and we are still working with some of the families.
In total, to date we have 276 families registered with us, and 111 have needed our direct financial assistance for their emergency needs pending insurance or other programs such as disaster loans from the Small Business Administration. $88,120 in purchase orders has thus far been provided to these families. THe money has been used for food, clothing, rent, minor home repairs, furniture and appliances, cooking and eating utensils, linens, occupational equipment, medical needs, and other miscellaneous items.
Total cost of the operation so far has been $93,264. Contributions received will help defray the cost and what is left over will be paid for by our national office in Washington.
This was not a disaster which could be handled by only the day to day disaster staff/volunteers. This was a total chapter effort. The staff/volunteers from the other departments are given a special thank you because without them we could not have done it. It is very gratifying to see a staff person show up on her own time, read to help where needed. We also received staff/volunteer support from six other chapters; Hutchinson, McPherson, Salina, Abilene, El Dorado, and Junction City. In all there were a minimum of 39 paid staff (29 were from this chapter), and 186 volunteers. At least 4,500 hours were spent in Hesston by this group of 235 people.
I have never seen such an out-pouring of support. The many groups, including the Mennonite Disaster Service and the Seventh Day Adventists, and many, many others gave untold hours in helping the victims of not only Hesston, but those whose homes were damaged in the seven counties affected by this storm. This was truly a Kansas effort.
And the Red Cross assistance has not stopped. Along with the six cases we still have open, and after the Small Business Administration and Farm Home Administration have provided disaster loans, we may still need to assist some families, especially those not eligible for loan assistance, nor have sufficient insurance. We may be involved with some rebuilding of homes.
A special thank you to Wally Balzerick for his several days helping in Hesston with Damage and Assessment and Family Service.
Mr. Hamelau, in his remarks, will comment on the amount of financial support by way of contributions we have received.
Harvey County Emergency Preparedness
P.O. Box 687 Newton, Kansas 67114 (316) 283-6010
Lon Buller Director
316-382-2945 P. O. BOX 202 MARION, KANSAS 66861
May 21, 1990
The county tornado damage reports were slow in coming in because of loss of electrical power and disrupted telephone service.
Initial damage reports indicated one fatality, no injuries, and no tornado damage sustained to any of our municipalities. All tornado damage appeared to have occurred in the rural areas of the county.
Air and ground assessment of the tornado's path the next day disclosed tornado structural damage to thirty-one farms and/ or rural homes in the county.
We used the county's tax appraisal records as a tool to determine an estimated dollar loss to buildings damaged by the tornado.
All information for tornado victims received from your agency and the Harvey County Emergency Preparedness Office was forwarded to our tornado victims.
Mennonites render tornado aid where efforts began
By Tom Schaefer
The Wichita Eagle
It started 40 years ago with a handful of people in a Sunday school class in Hesston. It spread to become an international disaster relief program in 48 states and in Canada.
Now, Mennonite Disaster Service is both victim and helper in its own back yard.
“It’s ironic that that’s where it started and that’s where the big activity is,” spokeswoman Sandy Weaver of Mennonite Disaster Service in Akron, Pa., said. Parts of Hesston were destroyed Tuesday in a tornado.
This week, an estimated 1,000 volunteers, mostly Mennonites, have helped friends and neighbors as well as themselves clean up debris. Many have brought their trucks, trailers, tractors or other vehicles and are still on the scene.
Weaver said that Mennonites had not asked for money from the national office.
“Because of the strong concentration of Mennonites in Kansas, they’ll be able to handle it themselves,” she said. “If there is a request, we’re open to helping them.”
Herb Flickinger, a Mennonite volunteer in Hesston, said Friday that people were still arriving to help.
Russ Buller, a spokesman for the city of Hesston, said that money, dump trucks, chain
saws and volunteers with trash bags were needed.
“We’re taking names and phone numbers of people who want to donate food and clothing, but there’s not an immediate need for them,” he said. "What we don’t need are sightseers. That’s become a major problem.”
Among Mennonite volunteers was Scott Preheim, a 21-year-old senior at Bethel College in Newton. He brought four other students to Hesston this week to assist in the effort
“We’ve grown up in the Mennonite church,” Preheim explained. "Helping people is the thing to do.”
That tradition of helping became Mennonite Disaster Service after World War II, Weaver said. Mennonites, who were conscientious objectors in the war, decided during a Sunday school class in 1950 to set up a civilian program to help victims of natural disasters.
Patterned after community efforts to rebuild barns that burned, the program was born in Pennsylvania Church in Hesston, now White-stone Mennonite Church. The church was not damaged in Tuesday’s tornado.
In 1951, after heavy rains in Wichita, 45 Mennonites packed sand bags to help keep the Little Arkansas River from flooding. The following year, when a tornado struck in Arkansas. Mennonites in Kansas de-
cided to expand their efforts beyond their state.
Since then, the Mennonite Disaster Service has been set up mostly based on state boundaries in the United States and on provinces in Canada. There are an estimated 300,000 Mennonites and others related to the Anabaptist movement of 16th-century Europe.
“Kansas is one of strongest organized committees and has one of the larger concentration of Mennonites,” Weaver said.
With a network of phone callers in most areas of North America, Mennonites can quickly be at the scene of a disaster.
“When we’re in a disaster location, the Red Cross usually picks up the food and lodging for people,” Weaver said. "Our biggest part is the cleanup.”
After cleaning up, Mennonite volunteers often return to help rebuild homes of low-income people, single parents, widows and the handicapped, Weaver said.
“We can’t really understand what a person is going through,” she said. “But we can, as the Bible says, bear one another's burdens and so show the love of Christ”
Kansans just know how to pitch in when people are hurt by disaster
In Hesston, strangers thrown together ride out the killer storm together like old friends. A motel owner leads a dozen people to safe shelter.
A worker at Pizza Hut, directly in the path of the tornado, thinks fast and takes 15 customers into the store’s walk-in refrigerator. No one is hurt.
Two women, also strangers, pray together in a ditch beside the interstate.
The storm cuts directly through the heart of the town, and is gone in less than three minutes.
Truck drivers quickly become rescue workers.
Scores of people come out to survey their demolished homes and ravaged belongings, and give thanks that they and their families are still alive.
Ham radio operators begin to swarm into Hesston. They take over communications duties, so police and firemen can help the injured. Calls to the hams, offering help, are still coming in more than a day after the tornado has gone.
Most of the 550 students at Hesston College, which was spared by the storm, join the rescue and cleanup efforts.
More than 800 other volunteers pour in from around the state.
The Mennonite Disaster Service takes charge of much of the cleanup work. The organization was founded in Hesston almost four decades ago to help disaster victims around the world. Now its volunteers must salvage their own hometown.
National Guard troops set up two shelters for the hundreds of homeless, but the shel-
ters don’t fill up. People whose homes have been destroyed are taken in by friends, relatives and neighbors.
Everywhere, dozens of folks are gathering to help at such damaged homes as Milton Miller’s. Mr. Miller turns from hopelessness to optimism as friends pitch in.
In Goessel, Jim Schmidt’s dairy farm is smashed. Within minutes, friends and townspeople rush over with blowtorches and chain saws to free the dairy herd trapped in a collapsed bam, to try to save a family’s way of life. Early the next morning, more than 100 volunteers gather to help the Schmidts clean up and salvage what they can. They work until dark.
Near Burrton, dozen of friends gather at the Fisher farm south of town They are there for the cleanup. They also are there to share the numbing grief of a loss no one can understand. Six-year-old Lucas Fisher, huddled in a basement, is killed by the storm, though his family did everything right in seeking shelter. Lucas was a “great kid,” says a family friend. “The Fishers ... they’re strong, Christian people, unusual people. They will be able to go on,” says another.
This is Kansas. The bravery and self-sacrifice of the last few days ... those things happen when Kansans face disaster.
Some people cry because of what they’ve lost. Others cry because of what they’ve found in friendship and sharing. Many cry for both reasons.
Tornadoes terrify. They destroy. They kill. They also bring out the best we have.
were involved from the evening of March 13 until the last of May when the coordinating services were returned to the Hesston Ministerial Alliance. Their generosity and hospitality were exceptional. Security was provided, offices equipped and telephones were made available.
The Communication Building was used for clothing and furniture distribution and for Stress Management sessions in the evenings provided by volunteers from Prairie View. The White Office Building served as the facility for the Food Pantry and all the service offices as indicated on the layout.
Mail was delivered from the Chief Executive’s Office daily. Custodial services were provided. Storage space for furniture of tornado victims was also made available.

The location of the dept, is at the NE corner of Pit. 1 (see attached map).
An R.N./ EMT's are on duty from 6:30 AM until 12:00 midnight. A Security Officer is on duty the remainder of the night. Personnel will respond to on premise medical or security related emergencies. Other on premise medical cases can be seen in the Medical/Security Dept.
Dept, personnel handle telephone switchboard duties between 5:00 PM and 8:00 AM weekdays and 24 hrs. on the weekends. During the late night and on Sundays it may be necessary to let the phone ring about ten times as it interconnects with a portable radio. All other times it will be answered promptly.
The 911 number is not accessible through company phones - except in the Medical/Security Dept. The emergency phone number is 208.
The regular number for the Medical/Security Dept, is 261.
Emergency radio contact is possible with city/ county law enforcement, fire and ambulance services through the base station and portable units.
There are warning horns located in the Office. There are sirens in the Communications Bid. They will be activated at the same time the city sirens are activated.
There are two entrances to the basement in the Office and one in the Communication Bid. There is an underground tunnel that connects the two bui1dings.
We hope your stay with us is pleasant and productive.
The evening of the tornado, HFI provided their Communication Center as an emergency command center for the many EMT ambulance crews working in the area.
Employees were permitted to assist in the clean up efforts for the balance of the week without loss of pay.
Tractors, loaders, trucks, and dumpsters, with operators, were provided to the community for approximately 10 days following the tornado.
Provided temporary electrical service for Dr. Hall's office the day following the tornado.
Edna Yoder, seated
and Mary Zook - Volunteers
MAY 17.1990
After the tornado hit I left my house on Pheasant Run Rd. and went to the area along Meadow Lane and Park Road to help people come out of their basements and check for injured or trapped people.
At 6:00 P.M. Leslie and I went downtown to assist in whatever manner we could and after talking with Jay he suggested I coordinate the temporary housing needs for the victims. Leslie helped coordinate the efforts to locate temp, housing in the High School by the Red Cross along with Gary Price.
The balance of the evening I assisted in the command center working with the HAM Radio people and the telephone calls to identify the areas hit and the residents affected. Mostly calls for information and where aid could be given. I attempted to answer those kinds of questions including selection of staging sites for the following morning.
Some assistance was given to the National Guard when they arrived to select guard posts and work with traffic needs.
I also tried to keep Jay informed as to extent of destruction to relay to the news media.
Between midnight and morning we spent time taking calls from the news media and concerned citizens, relatives and friends. At 6:00 A.M. we surveyed the damage and made plans for the clean-up activity. I met with MDS and arranged the use of the Middle School with telephone lines. I met with Bob Prouty to assist in the coordination of the heavy equipment coming from the near-by cities. At 7:00 the poeple and equipment started arriving. The whole day was spent working with MDS in supplying answers to their question and needs and working in city hall to find answers and take telephone calls. I worked with finding boxes, plastic, and mostly determining whose house was destroyed and which house needed repair ie: roofing, trees removed etc. Most of that day was spent cleaning debris off the streets by the heavy equipment and home owners going thru their personal belongings.
The Hesston State Bank gave MANY HOURS of service receiving, accounting, and daily printing out the deposits for the Hesston Tornado Victims Fund. Julia Roupp faithfully prepared the donor list and labels for the approximately 1400 thank you letters which were sent.
The four persons who served throughout the tornado aftermath on the financial committee were Dave Anderson, Dale Hochstetler, Lynn Jost and Walt Patton. Roger Ratzlaff served the first two weeks. Dean Day served as auditor.
The committee immediately set up criteria and policy to evaluate and to disperse monies. As needed, they made revisions. Evaluations of the application forms which they prepared were carefully considered every day the first two weeks. Beginning the third week they met once a week. This was an elephantine task. After the evaluations were made, another group wrote the checks. Lu Schmidt, Irene Koehn, and Lois Hershberger served in the H.F.I. Office counselling and helping people fill out their applications. Many others helped the first two weeks. Careful records were also kept by the office staff who also wrote the checks and sent them to the recipients. Many came in and picked up their checks.
At 10:00 P.M. on the 14th was the first chance I had to get some sleep. On the 15th of March I spent most of the day-
driving the streets with my radio working with MDS to move volunteers to areas where they were most needed. I also spent time between my farm buildings and my parents farm, which was totally destroyed by the storm, and city hall working with Chief DeHook on traffic problems, security and barricades, placement of incoming food and supplies, working on the list of destroyed homes, getting approval for homes to be removed by clean-up crews, and taking telephone calls about what types of equipment and aid were needed.
On the 16th we set up a Hesston Tornado Victims Fund at the Financial Institutions to handle the incoming money.
Most of that day was spent the same as the 15th. On the 17th the Hesston Ministerial Alliance asked me to chair the Victims Fund for the allocation of money. During the week of the 18th my responsibilities has increased to the point I was having trouble meeting my obligations and Dale Hostetler assumed the leadership role. I also experienced an increase in my level of blood pressure and had to slow down my pace of activity. I continued to work with the Ministerial Alliance to set up the Disaster Center and staff it as well as working with Jay at City Hall and MDS to direct and identify needs and resources of people and equipment.
At times the staff at MDS as short handed and I filled in to assist and allocate people to different sites for cleanup. On the 14th we estimated about 1500 volunteers helped in the city proper to clean up. On the 15th and 16th perhaps as many as 1000 people each day. After that it started to taper off until the 19th when we had about 200 to 300 volunteers. The week of the 18th was spent helping the personal at city hall assemble the community audit sheets, working with the homeowners to remove property, meeting at 7:00 A.M. with the Financial Aid Committee, working with Duane Graber on housing needs and helping Red Cross answer questions about financial aid, meeting with MDS people to phase out their involvement and transfer activities to the Disaster Center.
Chuck Miller of Hesston Hay and Forage was very helpful in providing equipment for cleanup and offices for the Center as well as space for food, clothing, and furniture.
We had so much help and support it was difficult to manage it at times. Mike from the Hesston Union was also extremely helpful in helping to manage people in the west part of town during that week of cleanup. Dexter Scramble of Chicago, a Hesston Corp. employee assisted for 3 or 4 days in manning a radio and directing cleanup activities. It helped a lot when the radios arrived from Motorola and a complete network was set up between fire, police, city hall, MDS and myself. This helped us accomplish so much more in a shorter period of time. Everyone worked together so well and showed a great deal of patience even when the demands were so extreme.
I was impressed with the organization of Jay and his staff and response time to difficult questions and situations.
We only had minor injuries during cleanup and this reflected the nature of the volunteers and equipment operators in being extra careful and considerate.
Although I did not have an official role except as Director of the Disaster Center for 2 weeks I tried to fill a need as it existed at the time. I'm sure I made plenty of mistakes in trying to get the job done as quickly as possible. In spite of that I enjoyed the opportunity to share God's love with my fellow neighbors and friends in a time of desperate need and uncertainty. Although I had not worked with MDS for about 10 years it was satisfying to see their unselfish desire to help others in need in the spirit of Christian love and also to see many others including the United States Air Force wearing the familiar MDS stickers.
I thank all those many people who helped me during those 2 weeks to accomplish so many things and resolve so many situations and to smooth out all the tasks we all committed ourselves to.
Lucilc and I came out of our basement at 240 S.. Weaver and found our area untouched by the tornado. Not knowing where to look we got in the car and drove to Parkview Road. There we found the Arlan Yoder house destroyed and all alone with the three children so we went to work, moving items that remained to the basement and drying off furniture. The following day we returned and continued with clean-up. On the third day I returned to my office in Newton but came back to Hesston when I realized that the needs were great.
As Mutual Care Elder of Hesston Mennonite Church I called several members together for a meeting at the church. This group was: Lowell Roth. Arlis Swanson, Howard Brenneman and Dennis Le Fevre. This group proposed and initiated a meeting of all tornado victims for Sunday afternoon at the Inter-Mennonite Church. This informative meeting would bring City officials, Red Cross, Salvation Army, Mennonite Disaster Service, area Pastors and the Kansas Assistant Attorney General to tell of services available, answer questions and warn of people who prey on victims. (See attached program outline )
Roger Ratzlaff had opened a fund at Hesston State Bank under the name of "Hesston Tornado Victims Fund." The local Ministerial Alliance initiated a survey of all church members with losses — as well as non-members. I headed this survey for H.M.C. with help from Clyde Jantz and Howard & Anna Ruth Beck. M.D.S. did most of the rural areas. Our home became a busy headquarters for people with financial losses.
Since the City had suffered such great losses, they asked that all activity be moved from the City building. Hesston Hay & Forage opened the vacant area of the Corporate Headquarters and the Ministerial Alliance took over as coordinators. Dale was asked to chair the finance committee. Also appointed were Dave Anderson, Walt Patton and Lynn Jost as Secretary and representative of the Ministerial Alliance. This group met every morning at 7:00 a.m. for two weeks. They reviewed applications and dispersed funds. During the first week only survival needs were met. The committee continued to meet for the next two months, (see attached sheet of criteria, etc )
Applications were distributed by M.D.S. and the local churches. Victims were asked to list both insured and uninsured losses. (See attached form)
Burrton set up their own fund and assigned someone to each tornado victim. The Hesston group also dispersed funds to and through the Burrton group to use for their needs.
I cannot remember what day of the week it was when I received a call from Lucille Hochstetler asking for help at the Relief Center in the financial aid office. It seems to me that I started to help on Thursday afternoon and worked all day Friday. Anyway, it was utter chaos.
The Ministerial Alliance had made up an application form for aid to be filled out by people who needed financial assistance for uninsured losses. There was such an immediate need for money due to people having lost their mode of transportation and needing to find a vehicle wherewith they could go to work. Money was needed for other major losses. I saw that many, many, people were in shock or in a daze that they needed help in filling out these application forms. Some brought in their friends or relatives to help fill out forms or do whatever it took to get aid. Still others would simply take the applications home with them and bring them back the next day. In some instances relatives of victims would come and inquire for them about available funds and asked what avenues had to be taken to receive financial aid. A large number of the victims were shy and embarrassed and found it very difficult to cope.
Others simply could not cope and left and returned later. (I could relate to some of these situations because I, too, experienced some these emotions when I went to Whitestone to ask for food). Applications received were usually acted upon the following morning and, if possible, processed the same day.
The news of this tornado spread throughout the world. People called from Japan, Australia, Canada as well as from our own United States. The news media communicated the needs the tornado had created and so money, food, clothing, furniture, etc., was coming into Hesston from all around us.
Our office, along with everything else, had not had the time to become organized and became a frustrating business. Organization was difficult as we had no office supplies, except for some file folders left behind by a former tenant, phones were constantly ringing, people coming in and out needing direction, etc. Money started to come into our office and also at the bank. Records needed to be kept, filed and sorted. I started to feel very inefficient.
Hay and Forage Industries made the former Corporate Building available as a Relief Center. It was beneficial in that the housing office was next door to us so we sort of worked together. MDS came into the same building and later Red Cross, Salvation Army and the food center were all placed in one location.
It was time for the weekend. This gave me some space to think.
When people came into the office the following week they seemed to be in better control of their emotions. I, too, had a chance to calm down and everything seemed to go a little bit better for all of us. There still was a lot of stress, however each day things were more under control. There were exceptions, of course.
Approved by Dale Hochstetler, Roger Ratzlaff, Dave Anderson Walt Patton, Lynn Jost
Visitor: Chuck Winkler, UMC Representative, March 20, 1990 CRITERIA - Hesston Tornado Victims Fund
1. Must have loss due to the March 13 tornado.
2. Must have losses not covered by insurance (uninsured and underinsured).
3. If there are material losses, applicants will be counseled to seek assistance from volunteer labor, Red Cross, supply banks, FEMA, before financial assistance will be given. If other organizations have addressed the needs, consideration will be given.
4. Priority will be given to personal survival needs. Assistance for business losses will be considered after personal needs are met. Civic projects would follow.
5. First payment will not exceed $1000.
6. All losses not fully subscribed will be reviewed weekly as funds are available.
Other Policy
1. At least three of the four will approve.
2. Lynn Jost will be the secretary.
3. Dean Day will be the Treasurer.
4. All applications will be dated upon completion, dated upon approval, and dated upon disbursal.
Collecting/Receiving Agency: Hesston State Bank, Hesston, Kansas
*Cash from local business disaster collection boxes:
-delivered to bank;
-duplicate receipt to be given to Financial Aid Committee.
*Mail received by Hesston State Bank with donations for disaster relief:
-count money and make receipts at end of counting when mail opening completed and money deposited;
-Person to add to computer listing the names, addresses, amount of donation, entry date so that all donations will be acknowledged with a "Thank You" note on behalf of the Ministerial Alliance.
*At the close of each banking day (4-5 p.m.)
-A representative of the Financial Aid Committee will pick up the day’s report of money received (mail and hand delivered) in the Hesston Tornado Victims Fund account -total of the day’s donations with duplicate receipts,
-the accumulated total to date,
-current daily list of names, addresses, and the amount of contribution.
*The computer summary print-out will have listed all those (including anonymous donor's amounts) names, addresses, and amounts.
March 20, 1990 Policy Prepared/Approved by Committee Revision March 30, 1990
Approved by: Members of the Ministerial Alliance: Herb Minnich, Phil Harrington,
Fred Obold, Rick Saylor, and Dale Hochstetler (Coordinator of Financial Aid)
April 10, 1990
To Whom It May Concern:
The Hesston Community has been deeply touched by the generous response to our recent disaster.
We understand that there are a number of businesses that are interested in helping the victims. The bearer of this letter has had one or more vehicles destroyed in the tornado. We in the community have assessed the need and would appreciate any help that you can give.
c/o Hesston Ministerial Alliance 420 W. Lincoln Blvd. Hesston, KS 67062
April 12, 1990
Pastor Frederick J. Obold Hesston Mennonite Church 309 South Main Hesston, KS 67062
Dear Pastor Obold:
Thank you for the letter of appreciation. We at Cherry Orchard are happy we could be of help. Mr. Garci, owner of Cherry Orchard Furniture, would like me to relay to you that if any tornado victims would like to come to our warehouse and pick from what is still there, Cherry Orchard would deliver it free for them.
All that we ask is that they have some type of voucher from you telling us how much furniture they may pick out, (livingroom, bedroom, house full) and some identification. This will help us with making sure that those who are in need are the ones who will receive it. Our warehouse is located on the corner of Harry and McClean. It is open Thursday thru Monday.
Thank you and your staff for helping Cherry Orchard with the distribution of the furniture. We appreciate your help and feel good in knowing that even though it may be small, we could help in the rebuilding of Hesston and surrounding communities. Please let me know if we can be of further assistance.
To: Tornado Victims who applied for funds —
As we work to continue the distribution of financial aid, we find we need a little more information from you. We will need to know the amount of uninsured loss you had in the tornado to determine your eligibility to receive money from the fund.
Please fill out the enclosed form showing your uninsured loss and return it to our office as soon as possible.
We would like to have this information before our next meeting scheduled for Tuesday, May 1.
Thank you.
Dale Hochstetler
Chairman, Hesston Tornado Victims Fund
lh 2.
Total $
Insurance Settlement $

c/o Hesston Ministerial Alliance 420 W. Lincoln Blvd. Hesston, KS 67062
April 20, 1990
Uninsured Loss $
Tornado victims continue to need aid
Hutchinson News Sunday, May 13, 1990
By Larry Peirce
The Hutchinson News
Two months after tornadoes swept through central Kansas, relief is still needed, said Evelyn Rouner, director of the Hesston Disaster Service.
"Money is still coming in, but it’s still our greatest need,”
Ms. Rouner said. The money has flowed in from states across the country.
There have been $1,835,269 in reported uninsured losses; $288,310 has been paid to 160 family units in the 100-mile path of the tornado. Of the 160, 71 family units were in Hesston, followed by Burrton with 21; New ton, 15; Haven, 10; and Hillsboro, 10.
Ms. Rouner said the losses must be greater than have been reported.
"They have to be higher than that,” she said.
About 29.5 percent of the damaged or destroyed homes were owned by people older than 60, and some- of those homeowners have limited incomes, she said.
Ms. Rouner urged victims who still have financial needs to fill out an application at the Hesston office building at 420 West Lincoln Blvd. in Hesston. After her office’s eventual closing, application forms still will be available at local churches. Household goods and canned food are still available. The office number is 316-327-6447.
She said about 10 families recently applied for financial help, but the majority of the victims have been contacted and helped. The reason for the late applications is not known, but Ms. Rouner said some victims may have discovered that their insurance payoffs aren’t meeting current construction prices.
The community may have been holding to false hopes, she said, after early reports claimed Hesston was adequately insured.
The disaster service has run smoothly, she said, much to the credit of volunteers.
"I’ve had seven to 10 volunteers daily, without problems," she said. “Even victims have
come up and been volunteers.”
* * *
The Hesston Public Library has been designated as the collection point for recorded and written material about the tornado and the cleanup.
Video and audio tapes, and newspaper and magazine accounts of the disaster, can be taken to the library, at 110 East Smith, in Hesston, or mailed to P.O. Box 640, Hesston, Kan., 67062. For information about the archives, call 316-327-4666.
The library also will accept personal accounts or journals or materials deemed appropriate for collection.
MAY 3, 1990
Evelyn I. Rouner, Coordinator for Ministerial Alliance of Hesston
MAY 1990
Map courtesy of Feist Publications Inc. Spearville, Kansas 67876
Prepared by Karen Unruh and Evelyn I. Rouner
Tornado tapes raise nearly $23,000 for relief fund
KAKE, Ch. 10, and KFDI Radio have raised nearly $23,000 for disaster aid through the sale of keepsake video and audio tapes of their coverage of the devastating March 13 tornadoes.
And about 20 seconds of the radio’s coverage with reporter John Wright’s eyewitness description of the tornado sweeping into Hesston will be heard nationally (and eventually internationally) when the movie “Mr. and Mrs. Bridge’’ is released in August
The period 1920s film, with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in the title roles as heads of a wealthy family in Kansas City, was being made on location when producers heard of the Wichita tornado coverage, They wanted to use the radio description for a tornado scene in the story.
“At first they wanted to rewrite it and have somebody else read it” noted KFDI news director Dan Dillon. “But then they heard John and they decided to use 20 seconds of the real thing.”
In exchange, Dillon said, KFDI
will get a credit in the film and Wright and his wife, Karen, have been invited to attend the film’s world premiere this summer in
The funds raised by KFDI from the audiotape were channeled to the American Red Cross as they arrived, Dillon said. So far, the total is more than $2,000 based on a minimum donation of $5 per tape. Some have given as much as $50, he added, and requests averaging about 15 per day are still coming in.
KAKE has raised about $20,800 for the Salvation Army relief fund from 1,600 tapes so far, according to marketing director Mark Chamberlin. The unexpected demand allowed lowering of production costs, so that about $13 of the $20 tape
cost could be given to tornado relief. The original estimate was to be about $10 of the $20.
Funds from the video will be presented to the Salvation Army in Good Friday ceremonies in McPherson and will be carried live during Channel 10’s midday news at 11:30 a.m. Chamberlin said Friday’s presentation will mark the cutoff of tape requests.
Lions Club International
Representatives of the Lions Club International presented the Hesston Lions Club Monday night with a check for $5,000 for disaster relief.
Making the presentation were District Gov. Leland Rice of Wichita and a member of the West Lions Club of Wichita and Past District Governor Byron Blue of the South East Lions Club of Wichita and chairman of Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) of District 17SE.
The check was from the Lions International Foundation.
Stipulations for the Disaster Fund of LCIF is that the money can be spent only for food, clothing, bedding and medical supplies, including eye glasses.
Applications for assistance must be directed to Past District Gov. Ed
Colby, representing Lions Clubs International, Cecil Doty, Region chairman representing District 17SE District Lions, or Alvin Frie-sen president of the Hesston Lions Club or any Lions Club member.
Several Lions Clubs from around the state and nation arc sending contributions. One club from California is sending a shipment of stuffed animals which they collected after the earthquake, for children, which they said were -being overlooked.
The Lions will be working with -the city, Chamber of Commerce, Ministerial Alliance, Salvation Army and anyone working with disaster relief.
“Lions Clubs arc continually working to make life a little easier for someone less fortunate than ourselves,” said Colby.
Record Photo/BOB LATTA
Hesstonians Ed Colby, left, and Alvin Friesen, center, receive a $5,000 check from Lions District Gov. Leland Rice to be used for tornado disaster relief.
Student funds to aid recovery of King Park
“I’m extremely proud of the young people here in Hesston,” said city administrator Jay Wieland. “That just shows the quality of young people here. This is great.”
Wieland had just been presented with a check for $1,000 to help with the continued recovery of Hesston and King Park following the March 13 tornado. The funds were the result of an area dance
May 12 sponsored by the Hesston High Student Council.
According to StuCo president Corey Quiring, many of the students had grown up playing in the park, which took a direct hit from the tornado.
Because not all of the city’s losses were covered, the students wanted the funds to go toward a restoration project of the park.
StuCo had planned before the
tornado to have a dance, but afterwards decided to broaden the base and make it an areawide event.
Quiring said students from 18 area schools were invited to attend, and about 330 students did turn out to hear music by Wichita radio station KICT and their deejays, Danny Seville and Phil Thompson.
The Wichita station donated the services of the deejays to aid the cause.
Members of the Hesston High Student Council present city administrator day Wieland. third from left, with a check for tor-
Phone employees give $5000 to relief fund
The Hesston Record, Thursday, April 19, 1990,
United Telephone employees and retirees made a $5,000 donation to the relief fund for victims of the tornado that struck south central Kansas March 13.
Seven communities served by United Telephone were damaged in the storm: Hesston, Burrton, Hillsboro, Buhler, Inman, Haven and Pretty Prairie.
United Telephone Community Relations teams as well as the Independent Telephone Pioneer Association sponsored the fund drive in six states.
“We are so gratified by the donations and other forms of assistance given by our employees and others in United Telephone-Midwest Group,” said Maxine Coffey, public relations manager for United Telephone in Kansas.
“Telephone employees traditionally give back to the communities where they work, but the Midwest Group employees always come through in a big way.
“For example, in the recent past, United Telephone raised thousands of dollars for victims of the San Francisco earthquake and Hurricane Hugo.
“The March 13 tornado struck even closer to home, and we’re glad to be in a position to help out.” Contributions were also received from hundreds of the company’s retirees and from members of the Independent Telephone Pioneers
United Telephone companies along with US Sprint are subsidiaries of United Telecom, a diversified telecommunications company providing global voice, data and video services and related products.
Hesston city administrator Jay Wieland, second from right, receives a check from United Telephone representatives. From left are Greg Simmons, customer relations manager; Jim Fagan, district manager, and Alan Prieb, service supervisor.
The Hesston Record, Thursday, April 19, 1990, P
ceive a $150 check from police chief Mickey DeHook. The money was a contribution form Wichita police officers. The Niemezvks lost a lot of their personal belongings in the recent tornado.
More than $175,000 dispersed
to tornado victims
The Hesston Record, Thursday, April 19, 1990,
Roughly $175,000 to-date has been distributed to those in need because of the destruction of the March 13 tornado, according to Lynn Jost, chairman of the Hesston Ministerial Alliance and secretary of the Hesston Tornado Victims Fund.
That compares to about $211,000 brought in so far in donations to the fund.
Money has come from close and afar, Jost noted. Friends and relatives as far away as the west coast have contributed various sums. And even a South Carolina supplier of Hay & Forage.
This may sound like a lot of money, Jost commented, but consider that benefactors include victims all along the tornado’s path -from Yoder to Burrton, Halstead, Hillsboro, to Pretty Prairie, Haven, Inman and Goessel.
All money collected goes to the victims fund. There are no administrative fees involved with the program, according to Jost.
Victims seeking money are asked to fill out a financial loss statement to claim assistance. From that point, Jost said that money is then dispersed based on need and uninsured loss basis.
For example, perhaps a person needs his car repaired so he can return to work; money is given for the repair to get the person back in a functioning state.
Meanwhile, a farmer outside of town has lost $250,000 in cattle due to the storm’s devastation.
Maybe $5,000-6,000 can be given to the farmer to help in recovering from such an enormous loss.
Priority is given to personal losses, said Jost.
There have been lots of vehicle repair requests, along with calls for help in replacing basic personal efifects not covered by the Salvation Army or Red Cross, such as cooking utensils.
Donations are beginning to taper off now, Jost said - although $40,000 was received this past week in lump sum donations.
Jost urges that anyone with an uninsured or personal loss due to the tornado who hasn’t requested assistance yet do so before funds are given away.
The Hesston Tornado Victims Fund will remain open until all donations are dispersed, he concluded.
John Baldwin, second from right, Dillon’s president, presents a certificate for 1,000 shares of stock to the Hesston tornado fund. Looking on, from left, are Ron Kelley of Dillon’s, and Dale Hochstetler and Lynn Jost, members of the tornado fund committee.
Irvin Harms, right, presents a check to Lynn Jost for $28,588.50 for the local tornado fund. Harms is state chairman of the Men-nonite Disaster Service. Looking on, from left, are members of the fund’s financial committee, Walt Patton, Dale Hochstetler and Dave Anderson.
HFI, corporate partners give boost to Hesston area tornado fund
The Hesston Record, Thursday, May 3, 1990,.
Hay & Forage Industries and their corporate partners, JI Case and Hesston Corporation, have given the Hesston Tornado Disaster Fund a sizeable boost.
A combined cash gift of more than $52,000 was presented recently to representatives of the Hesston Ministerial Alliance, which is overseeing the tornado fund.
A total of $50,000 came from HFI and JI Case. Another $1,150 was collected by the Case parts depot in Kansas City, and $969 was given by a Case manufacturing group in Fargo, N.D.
According to Chuck Miller, HFI general manager, “This gift recognizes the continuing need for assistance among the many victims of the March 13 tornado that ravaged Hesston and the surrounding area.”
“JI Case is a subsidiary of Tenneco Inc. of Houston, Texas, and Hesston Corporation is a subsidi-
ary of FiatGeotech of Modena, Italy.
In addition to these funds. HFI has made office and storage space available to the various disaster agencies that have been operating in the community since March 13, as well as a number of businesses and individuals that were affected by the storm.
The Rev. Ron Guengerich, representing the Ministerial Alliance, commented:
“We as the Hesston Ministerial Alliance want to state our appreciation for the tremendous support which HFI and Tenneco have given during this time of crisis.
“As we have helped to coordinate the relief effort, the support and cooperation of HFI has been noteworthy — first for the use of offices for the disaster relief center and now for this very generous check which will benefit families in the communities affected by the tornado,” said Guengerich.
Record Photo/BOB LATTA
HFI general manager Chuck Miller presents a check to Rev. Ron Guengerich. From left are Gary Van Dolah, director of personnel; Don Schmidt, controller; Walt Patton; Miller; Evelyn Rouner, relief coordinator; Guengerich; and Dale Hochstetler and Dave Anderson, who along with Patton are members of the tornado fund committee.
APRIL 25, 1990
The Hesston Tornado Disaster Fund was the recipient today of a combined cash gift totaling $50,000 from Hay & Forage Industries and their corporate partners, JI Case and Hesston Corporation. This gift recognizes the continuing need for assistance among the many victims of the March 13th tornado that ravaged Hesston, Kansas and surrounding area. JI Case is a subsidiary of Tenneco Inc. of Houston, Texas and Hesston Corporation is a subsidiary of FiatGeotech of Modena, Italy. In addition to these funds, Hay & Forage Industries has made office and storage space available to the various disaster agencies that have been operating in the community since the evening of March 13th, as well as a number of businesses and individuals that were affected by the storm.
Biggest Need is Money In Kansas Disaster Aid
Wednesday, May 9, 1990 Newton, Kansas 67114
By Paul SchrAG
Assistant Editor
HESSTON, KAN.—As the Hesston Disaster Center continues to give material aid to victims of last month’s tornado, the greatest need is for gifts of money, the center’s coordinator says.
The center’s finance committee has disbursed $95,000 to people with uninsured losses, coordinator Evelyn Rouner said April 6. But that’s only a small fraction of the need.
The latest estimate of people’s uninsured losses was $750,000. That figure was established in late March and is sure to go higher,
Rouner said.
"People have given well, but we just can’t meet all the needs,” she said. Donations may be sent to the HesstoN State Bank Tornado Victims Fund.
ROUNER, AN adjunct professor at Hesston College and a former faculty member at Goshen (Ind.) College, is coordinating the tornado relief work at the request of the Hesston Ministerial Alliance. The alliance pays the center’s administrative expenses, so all donations go entirely to help the disaster victims.
‘‘This center is for the whole 100-mile stretch of people,” Rouner said, referring to the long path of destruction the tornado left behind in Kansas on March 13. “It’s not just for Hesston.”
The center is involved in providing financial aid, housing and storage, counseling, a food pantry, a lost and found, and distribution of clothing and furniture.
For people with counseling needs, Rouner encourages participation in Prairie View’s Tornado Support Groups on Tuesday nights this month in Hesston, Burrton, Inman and Goessel.
EVERY DAY, people with disaster-related needs are coming to
the center, in the Hay and Forage Industries white office building in Hesston. Some people come in just to talk about how the tornado has affected them.
Though material needs are being met adequately now, Rouner said many people don’t know all their needs yet. When people move from their temporary housing into rebuilt homes, more needs will become apparent and more donations may be called for.
Requests directed to Mennonite Disaster Service also are received at the center. MDS workers gave about 60,000 hours of volunteer labor after the tornado. The nature of ongoing MDS work in the area will be discussed soon, Rouner said.
The center, staffed by volunteers, is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturdays.
ROUNER, WHO lives in Colwich, is serving her second term on the Hesston College faculty. From 1950 to 1956 she taught economics and sociology at Hesston. Now she teaches a course on ministry with the aging.
From 1981 to 1983 she was at Goshen College as a professor and director of continuing education. Then she served Greencroft Inc. in Goshen as a researcher, consultant and public relations representative. She moved to Colwich in 1985.
Rouner comes to her disaster relief role with firsthand experience. She was in Hesston when the tornado ripped through the town March 13.
She gives credit to Kathleen Clark, a disaster assessment specialist with the United Methodist Committee on Relief, for coordinating disaster aid during the first two weeks after the tornado. UMCOR is the Methodist equivalent of Mennonite Central Committee.
Cash needed for tornado victims
HESSTON — The Hesston Tornado Victims Fund still is seeking cash donations in care of the Hesston State Bank to try to make up the difference between the nearly $273,000 given out so far and the $1.8-million in uninsured losses that have been reported from the March 13 storms.
However, Evelyn I. Rouner of the Ministerial Alliance of Hesston, which is operating the disaster relief effort out of the Hay and Forage office building in Hesston, said no more food, clothing or furniture is needed.
Already, she said, a community garage sale has been held to get rid of some excess items, with the proceeds going to the relief fund, and the Salvation Army is working to help those still in need of food or clothing.
In all, the storm did an estimated $25.5-million in a path from southwest of Burrton all the way into Marion County, with other funnels created by the storm doing damage in towns and rural areas near the main path of the Hesston tornado.
Source: Ministerial Alliance of Hesston
Kansan Graphic/Matt Bartel-Mark Schnabel
Family Units Receiving Assistance From The Hesston Tornado Victims Fund
Twister totals —
Nearly $273,000 has been given to victims of the March 13 tornadoes that struck Hesston and southcentral Kansas but much more still is needed, says Evelyn I. Rouner, coordinator for the Ministerial Alliance of Hesston. Rouner said this morning that more than $1.8-million in uninsured losses had been reported along the entire 100-mile path of the storm from Pretty Prairie to Dwight, which spawned as many as two-dozen tornadoes. “That figure represents only those families that have applied for assis-
tance,” Rouner said. “Obviously, if you look at the total damage estimates ($25.5-million) you can see that a great many have not come into our office.” The alliance on Monday released a map showing the towns where assistance has been distributed and the number of family units in each town and its surrounding rural area totaling 160 that received aid. Assistance is being meted out in the form of food, clothing and cash, Rouner said, but donations still are needed.
The Hesston Record, Thursday, May 31, 1990,
Lynn Jost, second from right, receives a check from Gary Hall, second from left, for $2,500 for the Hesston tornado fund. Hall, of Indiana Lumber-maen’s Mutual Insurance Co., made the presentation in appreciation of the hundreds of volunteers who helped clean up after the March 13 tornado. His client, Kropf Lumber, re4ceived $1.3 million in damage, but Kropf was back in business within days, helping tornado victims with repair supplies. Local representative for the insurance company is Don Typer of Janzen-Ruth-Typer. Others from left are Typer, Kerry Krehbiel, Mel Diller and Dale Hochstetler.
The Hesston Record, Thursday, May 10,1990,
Tornado support group meeting set for May 15
The next scheduled meeting of the ongoing tornado information/ support group, sponsored by Prairie View, is Tuesday, May 15.
The session will be in the Communications Building at Hay &
Forage from 7:30-9 p.m.
Persons may join the group for a single session or for all sessions.
There is no charge and no pre-enrollment. Three additional meetings will be held, at times to be announced.
Participation has been active in the four meetings held to this date. Interested persons are invited to join the group for the remaining meetings.
Dr. Daniel Heinrichs, medical director of Prairie View, will be the leader.
Topics of discussion will include the concerns of the persons present, as well as such issues as: dealing with the fears of small children, barriers to decision making, “survivor’s guilt” (feelings close neighbors and near victims may have about their good fortune in being missed by the tornado), dealing with the losses involved, coping with depression when it hits and Finding constructive ways of dealing with the anger over having had so little control over what happened to them.
Prairie View is offering a series of FREE informational/support group meetings at various locations throughout the counties in response to repeated requests from persons who were affected by the recent tornado. Topics of discussion will depend on the concerns of the persons present but will include some of the following: 1)
dealing with fears of small children; 2) barriers to decision-making; 3) survivor’s guilt"; 4) dealing with loss; 5) coping with depression when it hits; 6) finding constructive ways to deal with anger.
These groups will be available at the following locations on Tuesdays, April 3-24, from 7:30-9:00 p.m.:
Hesston - Hay and Forage Communications Building
Goessel - Goessel High School Library
Burrton - Burrton City Hall
Inman - Inman Senior Center
These groups are free and persons are welcome to attend a single session or all the sessions. No pre-enrollment is required.
Prairie View Counseling Support
Monday 9:00 a.m. -12:00 noon & 2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Thursday 9:00 a.m. -12:00 noon & 2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
at the Hesston Disaster Center HFI-White Building Suite 107
Thank you for volunteering time out of your busy schedule to spend a few hours at Hesston. Your willingness to spend time listening to stories of pain and despair is very much appreciated by Hesston, the Hesston Ministerial Alliance, and Prairie View.
The Hesston Disaster Center, where you will be housed, is located in a two-story white building at the Hay and Forage entrance just off of Lincoln (sometimes known as Dutch Avenue). The office where you will be staying is in Suite #107. The number for the Hesston Disaster Center is 327-6464. Rev. Rick Saylor, United Methodist pastor in Hesston, is the official contact from the Hesston Ministerial Alliance and would be able to answer any questions you might have (327-4305, church number). It is usually not a steady flow of people so it would be a good idea to take something to work on.
Several green forms, entitled "Tornado Assistance Call," are attached to this memo and act as a sort of inquiry sheet (they were originally made for the tornado hotline, which no longer exists;. Please route green sheet to me if you gathered information from someone. It is important to note on the green, sheet if the person would like an appointment made for them. Also attached are some helpful facts on critical incident stress which car be distributed as needed.
We would like to keep track of the time that is spent volunteering so please use account number 730 and project number 652 when recording your time on your SAL (include time on Saturdays, too).
Let me know if you have any Questions (ext. 561). Again, thank you for your help in this effort!
people are available to talk to you over the phone at the
following number

Plant a seed of hope for tomorrow
A half-dozen firefighters sat around the coffee table with me in a small room behind the fire engine. Outside, the north wind blew sharply and a light rain dampened our spirits as well as the ground.
Barely 24 hours after the tornado and with only a few hours of sleep stolen from our work to give enough respite to carry on, the firefighters and I melted into the silence of the night as each of us listened to the whisper of our thoughts and the splatter of the rain outside.
1 looked about the room and felt the weight of all our sadness. It’s after the drama, when the adrenalin rush fades and the energy bom of search and rescue work is depleted, that one is able to sit with one’s own thoughts and listen to the secret memories one has not yet had time to craft into words. These are lonely times. It’s the time to taste one’s own rancid memories of what you’ve seen and heard and done.
“You know, I watch the troopers as they work,” said one. “They’re all strong and professional. Their uniforms are crisp and they look like nothing bothers them. But I’ll bet there’s a soft spot inside them just like inside me. I’ve never seen this kind of horror before. I mean, it hurts me down deep inside.”
Indeed it does.
“When the warning came,” he continued, “I knew something had to be done, so I took the fire truck and drove up and down the street with the siren screaming and me yell-
ing over the speaker to take cover. And you know what? I didn’t think anything about it at all until I drove by my own house.”
“My own house,” he said again. And with that the room grew still. The firefighter looked down at the floor while the others looked away from him to respect the crack in his voice and the tears which slipped from the edges of his deep-set, sleep-starved eyes and melted into the bristles of his thick brown beard. And for a long time it was quiet. Each one of us remembered those who we also loved and left.
I watched, though, as the big burly firefighter clenched his fist as if to hold in all the hurt he felt and while he swallowed his tears.
“The hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life was to drive right on by my house where my family was, knowing all the while that a tornado was on its way and they might be blown away without me there and they might be killed because I wasn’t with them. I was so scared for them. I knew if I stopped to be with them,
I’d feel guilty, but if I drove on and did my job I’d feel guilty for that too. I decided to drive on, but I wanted so much to be
with them.
The stillness of the room was broken again when another firefighter said, “I felt the same way, Chuck. Only thing was, when I got home, I knew how much I had upset my family. When I went to bed my little girl left me a note on my pillow. “Dear Daddy. I’m glad you’re back. You had me so scared and worried. Love, Sally.”
With such massive losses all about and so many hurt so deeply, it is likely that such private acts by ordinary people will never be known. Sometimes it’s enough to know in your heart that what you did in private helped strangers whom you don’t know and who will never know how you helped. I think of them as ordinary heroes.
As I drove home late that night, I stopped at a darkened place on the edge of the road. Overhead the clouds began to give way to a sprinkling of stars making the chaos seem a little clearer. Bits and pieces of promises littered the fields: Everyday items from ordinary folks lay scattered across the countryside like so many broken dreams. I remembered my favorite nursery rhyme and felt again its primitive power: Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall; Humpty Dumpty had a great fall; and all the King's horses and all the King's men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again. Indeed, we are a broken people. So much hurt. So much loss. So many little pieces of dreams-all shattered into jagged fragments and carted off in dump trucks
to be burned and buried. How could we know our dreams would die so soon? If we could have just touched them one' more time. Or saved just one picture.
It’s enough that we close our eyes and wander through our memories and smile at those once-upon-a-time treasures as come to us around the corners of our mind. And maybe that’s where one begins, with little pieces of hope and nothing else. Just pieces.
It’s hard not to ask the question even if it’s pointless: how can such good people know so much sorrow in such a short time? Life seems more a mystery than a certainty; but as forme, when I listen to the silence of all this chaos, deeper than the stillness of my own thoughts and underneath the crying of those I hear who weep, I hear the agony of God.
Perhaps creation itself is like all of us: inherently good but capable of fits of fury which result in such awful chaos.
If you can, pick up even a little piece of hope and give it away. A smile, perhaps; or a tear you share with a stranger because for a moment more than anything else, they need to know that even strangers care for them. Let someone hold you while you remember how your dreams flew away too. And in so doing, you will surely plant a seed of hope for someone’s tomorrow.
Thomas W. Shane, D. Div.,
is chaplain supervisor at Prairie View Inc.
Critical Incident Dr. Thomas Shane March 21, 1990 student: Steve Stone
I was working in the CPE room at Prairie View when the secretary announced that a tornado had been spotted. As I began to sense that serious tornado activity was occurring, I began to listen to the police ban radio in my supervisor's office. The first report that caught my attention was that a tornado was headed toward Burden. The officer that I heard on the radio indicated that he thought the tornado was going to miss Burden. Then the tornado caught the corner of town and two houses and a motel were reported as being leveled. The reporting officer then headed for another area and the next report that I heard was that it was headed for his house and he was afraid that he was going to loose it.
Prairie View began to respond immediately. Tom Shane cancelled an evening lecture and began to respond to reported police needs. The hospital began to move patients into the psychodrama room. Several people asked if I was going to a designated area. I chose instead to remain close the police radio where I could hear where tornadoes were being spotted.
It now was about 5:20. Tom Shane suggested that it was time to now head for McPherson. I had no idea where the tornado was headed and accepted his direction about heading toward McPherson. As I drove onto highway 135 to sky looked dark, black, and erie. There was an overhanging cloud cover. The drivers on the road looked cautious. Some began to pull over toward the side of 135. I had the McPherson Radio Station on and I bedgan to hear sightings of tornadoes in the Hesston area and in Southern McPherson County. I began to develop the feeling that I was heading directly into the tornado area. I was not overly concerned. I could see for miles across the Kansas Plains and with the combination of my radio reports and my vision, I thought that I could spot a tornado well in advance and head for cover. I was not overly concerned for my family. K.MGL was reporting tornado spottings in Southern McPherson County and not in McPherson proper.
Somewhere beyond North Newton I developed an even stronger sense that I was heading toward the tornado. Emergency vehicles with flashing red lights and flashing blue lights began to emerge. I also began to see news trucks. Cars were more frequently pulled over at the side of the road. There was an overcast sky. At one point there was a broad drapery of wind that stretched from the cloud ceiling to the ground. I did not know whether this was a tornado or not. The drapery of wind seemed to be much broader than any tornado picture that I had seen.
I pulled over to the side of the road several times, but as cars passed me I continued to pull out and travel toward McPherson. As I approached the Hesston exit, I was getting close to this peculiar cloud formation. The radio reported that it was a dangerous tornado and that it was going through Hesston and off toward Gossel and Marion. Since the tornado was moving perpendicular to me and I did not believe that iw would head directly down the highway, I continued to drive toward this peculiar cloud formation.
As I passed the overpass by Hesston, I looked toward my right and saw debris scattered all over a farm field. I looked toward my left and I saw a truck stop flattened , many houses demolished, and Pizza Hut on the ground. The sight and feeling shocked me. This was the most destruction that I had seen since working in Laos and traveling over Laos, "Thailand and VietNam in the late 60's ana early 70's. I then became more afraid. Now 1 was heading into southern McPherson County. Tornado sightings had been reported in southern McPherson County.
The road was wet. It appeared that there had been large sized hail. Cars were continuing to stop under overpasses. I saw one and possibly two cars that had skidded on the highway and ended up in the ditch at the side of the road. I chose not to stop, but continued driving toward McPherson where my wife and two children were at home. I arrived at home and the three of them were huddled in the basement. My wife was upset to hear me come into the house. She asked why I had driven to McPherson rather than remain at Newton during this tornado activity. Soon the tornado activity was over, the tornado warning was lifted, and the sky lightened up. Since nobody had fixed supper, we decided to go to McDonalds.
When I arrived at McDonalds, the McDonalds Manager who is also the secretary of the district minister of the Church of the Brethren came over to me. She turned to her staff and said that they were safe now because a minister was in their presence. I told her what I had seen at Hesston. She told me that she had heard that the staff at Pizza Hut had all gotten into the industrial refrigerator and had survived the tornado. She was concerned how she would protect her staff if the tornado hit. Then she told me that she was scarred for her small dog in her mobile home. She could not leave work to go for a dog, but that dog was her family and that she was worried. As we ate supper, Jane and the children went back to Alta and promised her that we would get her dog.
We drove back from McDonalds and toward the middle school. I felt torn. This was the night of the parent-teachers conferences at McPherson Middle School. The sky by this time however was blackening again.
Jane said that she would not go to the middle school and that we would pick up Galen's report card tomorrow. We headed for home.
Jane and the children went into the basement again. I started out the door for Alta's dog. When 1 walked out the door, the tornado warning was blaring, the sky was black in the west, and the winds were blowing strong. The radio was reporting tornado spottings around Buhler and headed toward McPherson, I went back into the house defeated. I felt that I was letting Alta down, but it seemed foolish to venture out across town in this dangerous weather for a dog. I went back downstairs. The tornado reports indicated scattered spottings. Some farm houses, out buildings, and barns were being lost. A tornado watch was in affect until 7:45.
The T. V. reports of houses at Hesston indicated that the number of damaged and flattened homes climbed from 15 to 100. That seemed move in congruence with what I had seen. No Tornados came and the radio began to talk about a lull between the second and third round of tornadoes. Shortly before 7:45 I jumped in my car and headed for Alta's mobile home.
I found the trailor without incident. Alta's dog looked scared but he did not warm up to me. He retreated under a chair and no matter how much I begged I could not get him to come out unless I headed for the door. Then He would follow me until I turned toward him and he retreated once again to the chair. I finally caught him and returned toward my home. The third round of tornadoes never materialized.
I called Tom Shane and offered to return toward Hesston and help with disaster relief. That phone call was not returned and assumed that he was too busy to deal with me, help was not needed at that point, or the state police and national guard had sealed off Hesston, and it was not possible to get into town.
I returned to Newton the next day. I stopped at the Hesston exit and took a couple of pictures of the destruction. I told Carla Stucky that I would be happy to respond to any special needs and resumed my work.
The opportunity for disaster relief work came about 3:00, Wednesday. Bob Carlson walked into the CPE room and reported that Tom Shane had called with a request for counseling assistance. I agreed to go immediatley and my peers offered to make themselves available Thursday.
I explained to the National Guard that my supervisor who was the state police chaplain had sent a request to Prarie View for counseling assistance. I was a student of his and that I had been instructed to report to the command post and to the college Mennonite Church. The National Guard let me through the road block. Tom Shane was not at the Command Post and I reported to the College Mennonite Church.
There I found a church piled high with disaster clothing. The church secretary was expecting 5 CPE students for orientation with the expectation that we all would be available for counseling on Thursday. I was in the process of calling Prairie View to report the misunderstanding when Tom Shane and fellow student Dale Pracht who lives in Hesston, and Larry Powers, National Guard Chaplain walked in.
We reorganized our efforts and Dale and I took off to his house to work on signs announcing that crisis counseling would be available at the Whitestone Mennonite Church and the Hesston College Mennonite Church. Dale and his wife had been helping to serve meals at the childcare center where she works. A large kettle of chili was cooking on the stove.
The destruction in Hesston was more awesome than the view from the highway. Homes, businesses, cars, trucks, utilities, and other debris lay sprawled all over town like a room when a spoiled child had just thrown a temper tantrum. It really rattled my psyche just to drive through town.
Dale and I delivered the chili to the child care center. Then we took our signs to the Command Center and to the high school. We returned to the child care center. Two gas men came into light the gas. One was from Kansas City. The other was from Billings Oklahoma. People talked in subdued tones of their tornado experiences. A teacher shared her grief experience of a maintenance man dying and a pupil dying and how she had processed the grief with her students.
I returned to McPherson with the hope that I could in some small way be helpful in Hesston on the following day.
i went to the college church. Two colleagues were there and informed me that I was to go to the Whitestone Mennonite Church. I arrived and found Dale Pracht. A Methodist Pastor arrived and brought with him a counselee. Dale visited with him. The pastor reported that 6 of his parishoners had lost everything.
I began th help unload food since this church was also a food distribution center.
We went to a two hour Hesston Ministerial Association meeting. The pastors reported on damage to their churches and parishoners homes. Reports came in from Mennonite Disaster Relief Services, the bank, city hall, the newspaper, and other emergency services. The town began to organize its communication network, food and clothing distribution system, inventory and check on buildings destroyed and damaged and the current location of people, the use of volunteer labor, counseling services, money receiving and distribution, and the coordination of earth moving equiptment.
I retreated to the basement to help unpack canned goods and help organize the distribution system in the fellowship hall. This was the primary activity that my
colleagues and I who were assigned to the Whitestone Church engaged in during the next two days. I did no formal counseling, but as we worked together at the church the church women shared how their neighbors, families, and fellow church members were struggling to cope with the disaster that had just hit their town.
Thursday in some ways felt like a carnival day. Many onlookers came to the town to view the disaster. It also was a productive day. Mennonite Disaster relief reported that 600 volunteers had reported for assistance. The paper reported that 100-150 dump and farm trucks had assisted with the removing of debris. The Salvation Army, American Red Cross, and the Seventh Day Adventist were set up at the high school gynasium.
I saw men from the McPherson Church of the Brethren out with their farm trucks picking up and hauling their debris to the landfill.
As we unboxed foe we did not see much response. We debated about whether this was because not enough time has passed or whether it was not the nature of these people to seek assistance. We discussed the possibility of taking the food to the people if the people did not come to the food distribution center.
I sensed that our work for church and community and the sharing of tornado experiences was therapeutic to us all.
Friday was similar. In pastors meeting on Friday there was thought given to treatment for trauma and stress. Prairie View was seeking ways to work through the school system, churches, and CPF students to make counseling available. Pastors were seeking psalms that highlight both praise and lamantations.
Following the ministerial association meeting, I drove to the high school. Church of the Brethren members were cleaning up once again and I took their pictures of them cleaning up. I then went to the gymnasium. American Red Cross reported that business had been slow. They had only had 11 inquiries all day. The Seventh Day Adventist had had 5 inquiries and this was not cost effective. They were heading to do disaster work in Nebraska. The contrast between their experience and that of Mennonite Disaster Relief was a clear indication of how Hesston was working within their own natural networks and heritage groups.
I had several pastor visits at the dinner table.
I talked to the owners of the motel that had been demolished by the highway at 135. They had 50 people huddled in a lower hallway. The owner reported that when he was a young boy, he had been up asleep in his bed when the house was lifted off its foundation. The house had been set down in a field some distance away.
One man who I talked to had been returning from work. The state police had stopped him at the exit ramp. He had watched as his house did blow up. He had a wife and two babies at home. He said that he had
been a basket case. He had been interviewed on the evening news the evening before. He said that the next time that he heard about a disaster that he would respond. Obviously he felt strongly about all the disaster relief that Hesston was receiving.
Three Menonite workers came to the table. They had been working for Mennonite Disaster Relief. They had been helping to clean up the Mennonite Brethren Church. They seemed happy to be able to respond during this time of intense need. One man was from Nebraska and had tornadoes hit closer to where he lived, but he had a daughter living in Hesston.
I returned to the Whitestone Mennonite Church and continued to process food. I was surprised how close I had come to feel to the women of this church during the two short days that I was there.
During this short, intense time period I learned much about disaster intervention. Pain is real. All though much of the talk is about response, gratitude, rebuilding, and community; the losses of household goods, pictures, home, car, furniture, and employment are real. Financial losses are real. Few Hesston residents can exerge from this disaster in as strong a financial position as they were before the disaster hit. Much work in some sectors of the economy such as food service, building, furniture manufacture, and insurance sales will provide some work for many people.
National agencies are needed. The Red Cross,
the Salvation Army, and Mennonite Disaster Relief were in position to respond immediately and their services were needed and appreciated.
People have a lot of empathy. As I unloaded the fifth truck load of food from Salina, I realized the thinking and effort that was generating this disaster relief. I witnessed the same kind of response at the clothing distribution center. Monetary response and building material donations were almost immediate.
People find it difficult to verbalize their trauma and fear while they are still in shock. Although counseling services were on line almost immediately, few people chose to avail themselves of these services. It is not clear that a significant number will seek out services over the long run. This will become more clear to Prarie View in the month ahead.
The National Guard provides a vital service. There would have been some looting without the services of the National Guard. It is also true that curiosity seekers would have hampered work to an even greater degree than they did. Many people were flooding into the area for the simple reason of seeing the destruction.
Good ecumenical cooperation serves the whole community. Good ecumenical cooperation Hesston meant
availability of food and clothing to all, an inventory of homes lost and the current addresses of people who were no longer able to live in their homes, detraumatization of people was more possible because of close ecumenical cooperation. Pastors knew quickly the losses and psychological condition of their parishioners.
People trained in disaster relief are in a better position to meet thier own needs during a crisis. Mennonite disaster services were organized in the Hesston area. When disaster hit in that area, the response was immediate, well organized, and large in numbers of people and resources.
Healing takes time. It will take time to rebuild lives and homes. Losses don't go away quickly. Memories will not fade. I expect that in the way that war memories last for long periods of time that Hesstonites will have tornado memories for years to come.
Good radio communications saves lives. Emergency personnel , the news media, state police, and the local police cooperated quickly to keep people in the tornado area informed. The ratio of property loss/injury and death loss is so astounding that it' is frightful to think of how many lives would have been lost without modern communication and excellent cooperation.
People take advantage of losses. There was much talk about dishonest contractors and looters. There was fear that insurance settlements would not be fair. It appears that Mennonite philosophy, small town cooperation, good police service ,and much family connectedness will keep this to a minimum.
Much peace of mind comes through keeping people informed. People need to learn rather quickly where they can go for a wide range of human and material resources. Community leaders need to cooperate and learn the location of securing resources needed to be immediately available.
People need to be provided individual and corporate opportunities to share their experiences and express their feelings.
Prairie View Response
Prairie View's response was fast and sound. Tom Shane is experienced in this type of work and Richard Gist had helped all Prarie View think through disaster response earlier in the year. Two chaplains were involved as soon as the tornado hit. Four others were sent in within 48 hours. These six people were sufficiently flexiable to respond to community needs. Soon Prairie View developed a plan of working through the school system, area churches, and providing one on one counseling. The response was undoubtedly stimulated by close proximity, family connections, and
staff connections. A plan soon evolved that included working through the chaplaincy department, the public school system, patients helping in clean up and mental health providers bveing available in the evening hours. I do not see how Prairie View could have responded much more quickly. I think that Prairie View is to be commended for their efforts.
Theological Reflection
The Lenten Season is the season of pain and suffering. Jesus suffered intense suffering during the end of his ministry. The psychological suffering of a civil trial, a heresy trial, the hearing of a guilty verdict, a death sentenance, rejection by a crowd, betrayal in his discipleship band, physical pain and suffering and death on a cross. That was a time of extreme pain, physical torture, psychological pain, and death.
Hesston has suffered similiar pain. Two human lives in south central Kansas were lost. The pain of families who lost their homes, furniture, household goods, pictures, farm bui1 dings, businesses, clothing, mode of transportation, and cars and trucks has been deep and real. The price tag of 33 million is only a factual indicator of the extend of the loss that perplexes hundreds of people. Fear, concern for family members, abandonment by God, and desolation of the landscape have been both psychologically and psysically tormenting for many during the past week and one half.
The hope and joy. of the the Christian life Is that the story did not end here. Jesus was risen from the dead and an empty tomb was discovered on Easter Sunday morning. During his time of pain and suffering Jesus was able to cry "My God, My God , why has thou forsaken me." During his resurrection He was able to transcend the cross and return to earth to bring salvation and hope to many generations of people who would ask for the help of a Risen Christ.
Hesston began immediately to rise above the pain and suffering. The people of Hesston have a unique opportunity to build community, strengthen family ties, teach p3eople the importance of outreach and missions as they respond with time, talent, money, building materials, earth moving equipment, clothes, and canned goods. The Christian fellowship can become stronger as people share their pain, work intimately together, and worship together. The ministry of the people of Hesston can gain a new level of commitment and quality as they minister in meaningful and sensitive ways. Lives of wounded people have the possibility of healing as imperfect people help clean up and build anew neighborhoods, farms, and sections of a community that has suffered the crucifixion. There can be an empty
tomb experience following the March 13th tornado.
It is my firm belief that like Jesus Christ experienced the joy of the resurrect ion, the people of south central Kansas will have a new birth as hundreds have and continue to come together to rebuild their farms and communities.
Clothes started coming in almost immediately. Hesston Mennonite Church was the center for clothes and kitchen items. The different rooms in the fellowship hall were marked for various items. One room for women's clothes, one for men, one for children, kitchen items, and etc. By Wednesday afternoon the was church nearly full with more clothes and things coming in by the truck loads. A large flatbed trailer pulled by a pick-up truck arrived from Texas. The trailer was about three feet deep and full of loose clothes and covered with a tarp. The man, who drove the truck, had only slept three hours in two days. He represented Project Pearl, an organization of six churches in Ledbetter, Texas. None of the clothes were in boxes so to unload we had to put them in boxes and carry them into the church. The driver went to the MDS center to get help but by the time he got back with help we had the trailer unloaded. The driver headed back to Texas.
The TV kept saying we had enough items and please not send anymore but they kept coming. Thursday afternoon the flow seemed to slow down and we felt we were getting organized and on top of things and hoped no more items would come in. I left to babysit at 6:30 and Ruth Obold took over, when I returned at 8:00 o'clock she meet me with the news that (5) five trucks had come in the one and half hours I was gone, so we were back to sorting again. Thursday, Salvation Army officials informed me that Cherry Orchard Furniture Store wanted to empty their warehouse and bring it to Hesston for the Tornado Victims. I thanked them but said "NO" we had no place for a warehouse of furniture and the victims has no room to store furniture as most were staying with friends and relatives in temporary quarters. Another incident that happened on Thursday a large huge semi-trailer truck pulled up. The driver informed us it was from Love Box Co. of Wichita and was full of new flat cartons or boxes. We asked how many cartons were on the truck. The driver's answer was, 168,000 and another semi-load was coming tomorrow. After we recovered, We canceled the truck for the next day and said we would take 5 bales of cartons, their were 100 in each bale. They then took some to the Middle School and High School for the MDS and Red Cross to use or give to Victims who needed boxes for storage. As clothes were coming in. many were on hangers so we hung them on the racks in the hallway of the fellowship hall. The rack on one side of the hallway got so full it broke in the middle, and fell to the floor, clothes and all. We were so busy we didn't have time to remove the clothes from the broken rack for seven days. Bristal-Meyers located in Indiana called to say 60 cases of baby formula were on the way. Their was no way we could stop the truck so our one baby affected by the storm had lots of formula. (Their were also baby bottles on the truck.) The rumor was that the water in town was polluted so Dillons sent 3.000 jugs of distilled water. We had lots of jugs of water around for a long time. 80
Their were so many caring and loving people and interesting deeds. Some entire families with each family member carrying an item or two would come in. You knew that children and adults alike had sorted through their personal things to share with Hesston victims. An older couple brought a pick-up truck load of items they had bought and collected over the years at garage sales and etc. They kept them on hand to share in cases of need, They said if we needed more they would go home and get another load for us. Many people, after they had unloaded their items, would come to me and hug me, some made special bags for children with kind and loving notes in the bag along with crayons, coloring books, books, pudding, pajama's, cardboard drinks, a cuddly toy and etc. Some interesting items we received were two nice fake fur coats, several string bikinis, a large black Witches hat, about (3 ft. to the tip), pretty, sexy night gowns and lots and lots of junk. Three women from Peabody, la grandma, mom, and daughter) came with about a dozen plastic bags full. The grandma did most of the work, unloading and etc. Her knee s would constantly give out and she would fall. I was alarmed and tried to help her but she wanted no help, and would pull herself back up on her feet and go her way.
Many women or serving groups met and made and knotted new comforters for us. Probably, at least, around 100. Many people cleaned closets and cupboards and brought us the castoffs. Finally by Friday, some groups called before they came and we said no please we can't handle any more items. McPherson Methodist Church called said they were full of items for us but we said no. Their were times when we were concerned about the structural safety of the church from all of the weight of the clothes. Especially in the fellowship hall with a basement underneath. We were afraid we might end up in the basement with the floor breaking through.
New items came to us from Alco Wal-Mart, Sears and K-Mart. We really appreciated K-Mart. They came and talked to us and got a list of items people could really use such as can-openers, garbage cans, coffee pots and toasters and etc. Many of the clothes we received were out-dated or polyester or so worn no one could use them. We also received many nice and new clothes, bedding, and kitchen items. We had to do something with all the clothes, so many of them were boxed and sent to MCC warehouse in Newton. We sent them approximately two semi-loads or 40 tons. We also gave Share and Care from Mulvane, Kansas about ten tons of items. That community helps an Indian Reservation and others charitable organizations and said they would make good use of the things. As well as tornado victims we gave items to CASA students and pastoral students of Hesston College. On March 22, we moved everything to the HFI facility to get the church back to normal. There were so many, good and willing workers at HMC. The college students that helped were just wonderful. They worked long, hard hours and still came back to help some more. Many MDS workers from Goessel, Newton. North Newton and other areas worked hours and hours. I had several 4th & 3th graders that helped. They
sharing your pictures of the first Clothing Depot at Hesston Mennonite Church
worked as hard as anyone sorting toys and etc. Many people from HMC worked untold, long hours. Leonard Schmucker put together a lifetime of boxes for us. The Praire View Counselors who were stationed at HMC, gave us a hand when they weren’t busy counseling victims. They worked as long and hard as anyone. Mary Ann Short, a counselor trainee, even came on Saturday when she could of had a day off. She also attended our church service on Sunday. One counselor trainee was working with a gentleman. They were packing and sorting boxes and loading them on the truck. I thought it was her husband so I thanked her and her husband for all their good and diligent work and she said, "Oh, he's not my husband, he's one of our doctors at Praire View. I can't even begin to estimate the thousands and thousands of hours that were put in at HMC. There were so many good, caring and wonderful workers, I can't begin to name them, but they were all very special. In all I estimate we received about 50 to 60 tons of kitchen items, clothing, and bedding. The church fellowship hall certainly looked different and took on many new and different odors. Nelson Hostetler, a good friend and former National Director of MDS, told me one of his first duties at a disaster was to get the word out No Used Clothes. He said this helps some. Hal Salvation Army told us it is not unusual to receive an over abundance of castoffs and used items.
The eight days following the March 13, tornado were interesting and challenging days for me. I’m glad I could serve in this way. Some things were frustrating but the love, kindness, and genuine caring of so many people was so very evident. I’ll never forget it.
Submitted by Ruth Mason Coordinator at Hesston Mennonite Church Clothing & Bedding, Distribution Center
Some places items came from States - Texas, Nebraska, Colorado
Towns in Kansas - Udall, Dodge City, Yates Center, El Dorado, Protection, Severy, Hays, Lindsberg, Peabody, Derby, Andover, Andale, Wichita, Newton, North Newton, Salina, McPherson, Cheney
Toys: From WaKeeney, With Love
By Kathleen Fabrizius
Goodwill Ambassador would be a very appropriate title for Freda Spena of WaKeeney.
As was mentioned two weeks ago in an article in the World. Spena has been collecting new toys for Hesston kids in an attempt to reach out to the people of Hesston from WaKeeney.
Spena said she had no friends or relatives in Hesston, but her heart went out to those children in need after the devastating tornado that hit that city.
The project has done very well according to Spena. “When I got to
300 toys I stopped counting,” Spena said. “I have a little of everything, stuffed toys, a wagon, Barbie dolls, tractors, trucks, basketballs and even a bicycle.”
Spena put a box marked “toys” on her porch for people to leave toys in if she wasn’t there. She always checks the box when she’s outside and usually finds more gifts.
Another way she managed to collect toys was through hosting coffees. “I had eight coffees and each person who attended had to bring a toy. the toys was really what I was after.”
Spena said that several people were upset because all she was accepting was new toys. However, when Spena contacted a Hesston representative they were very glad to have new toys as they had been given many, many used items.
Besides toys, Spena has also received cash donations and with that she bought some things for babies and some small toys.
The toys will be taken down on April 3, according to Spena. “Several people have offered to help take the toys down, but I’d like to do it myself.”
"They are sending me a letter telling me where to take the toys," Spena said. ‘This is my missionary work.”
The World office salutes Freda Spena and the love she is expressing from our community to Hesston, and a special recognition goes to each of every person who gave so willingly of your money and your love for the people of Hesston. I’m sure Freda will bring many tales of wide smiles as the children of Hesston receive those toys that are given in love, hope and faith from the people of WaKeeney.
By Cathy Millard
Nearly 40 years ago when a tornado struck WaKeeney reeking havoc and leaving behind shambles and destruction, the community was touched by the outpouring of concern and assistance expressed by various groups who came to WaKeeney and helped clean up the extensive damage done by the storm.
One such group was the Mennonite Christian Welfare Workers. The newly organized support group, originally founded in Hesston, Kansas, was later to become an international disaster relief service devoted to the concept of “coming to the aid of their brethren” and “helping bear one anothers burdens.” A group of these Mennonites consisting of 40 men, with trucks, wrenches and tools arrived in WaKeeney shortly after the storm and jumped into the task of clearing the rubble and helping restore order. The following week another 12 men arrived to add to the number of workers. These workers were from Copeland and Montezuma, Kansas and were a direct branch of the original Hesston group.
Tragically, last week the place where it started became the place where the activity was and the place where assistance was needed. An estimated 1,000 volunteers, mostly
Mennonites, have helped friends and neighbors as well as themselves clean up debris. Many brought their trucks, trailers, tractors or other vehicles to help restore the town of Hesston.
But the people of WaKeeney have not forgotten the kindness shown to them so many years ago. Mayor Kenneth Deutscher made contact
with Hesston officials early this week to see what was needed and to offer a truck and a member of the city crew from WaKeeney to help with the clean up at Hesston.
The Hesston official expressed gratitude for the gesture and was quick to recall the WaKeeney tornado and the part the Mennonite Support Group had to play in that
clean up. Because of the outpouring of support from the Mennonite brethren, however, the assistance was not needed. One week from the date of the tornado, the work was in hand and ready to be turned over to private contractors.
Freda Spena. in an effort to reach out to the Hesston people, has organized “Project New' Toys”. For
Photo Courtesy of Wichita Eagle
the next couple of weeks she will be gathering new toys which she will deliver to Hesston the first week of April. Anyone wishing to contribute can leave the unwrapped toys at Freda’s home at 424 N. Main, before April 1st. Freda represents the whole community in desire to reach out in love and appreciation to those who were there for us so many years ago.
It was Freda's turn to come to the rescue
The Hesston Record, Thursday, April 26, 1990, Page 24
The address is different — WaKeeney, Ks., versus the North Pole.
And the name is different as well - Freda Spena rather than Ole St. Nick.
But the intent is about the same.
Gifts to brighten little ones’ hearts.
Baby dolls, wagons, model planes and favorite nighttime teddy bears.
In the wake of the March 13 tornado, some Hesston children were in need of a little heartwarming help to mend their broken hearts.
Hearts that were broken when the tornado sucked up their favorite toys - tricycles, bats and balls, Barbie pom pons. Pogo sticks. Puzzles. Or maybe dress up clothes and makeup from Mommy’s play drawer.
Many of the cherished possessions are simply memories for those in the direct path of the storm.
Favorite cuddles, gone. Along with bedtime story books learned by heart, or glow-in-the-dark inch worms. Raggedy Anns, Ninja Mutant stuffed turtles. All of it. Gone.
But not for long with Freda Spena around.
The WaKeeney woman remembered some four decades ago when
a devastating tornado wiped out a large segment of her own community — and how members of the Hesston-based Mennonite Disaster Service provided clean-up and rebuilding assistance in the town’s time of need.
Spena saw her chance to return the favor.
And return the favor she did, with scores upon scores of toys for the Hesston area youngsters.
In the weeks following the tornado Spena coordinated a goodwill toy drive in her hometown of WaKeeney. Residents were asked to donate new toys or cash to buy them. And the 79-year-old grandmother held a series of coffees in her home, where attending patrons were asked to bring new toys.
Her car laden with more than 300 gifts, Spena made her delivery
to the relief center based at Hay & Forage Industries April 3.
From there, it was up to the disaster volunteers to disperse their gifts to area children who suffered losses in the storm.
Hesston relief coordinator Evelyn Rouner recalled that after hearing of the Hesston tragedy, Spena originally sought to handcraft Barbie outfits to give to the children of Hesston.
But word got out, and little by little the entire community got with the program of giving.
Then Spena made the 170-mile trip to deliver her wares to the community of Hesston.
“This was a beautiful thing for this woman to do,” Rouner said of Spena. “Absolutely beautiful.”
“The children of Hesston are very appreciative.”
Wakeeney resident Freda Spena brought a carload of toys for Hesston youngsters.
Record Photo/BOB LATTA
MEMO TO: Persons Distributing Toys from Wakeeney
FROM: Evelyn Rouner, Coordinator
Hesston Disaster Center
Freda Spena 424 Main
Wakeeney, Kansas 67672
A 79 year old grandmother gathered toys through a project entitled "Project Toys for Hesston Children."
She requested they be given as Easter toys. This is a thank you for the help Wakeeney received in 1951 when they experienced a devastating tornado. Mennonite Disaster Service provided help in 1951, so 39 years later Wakeeney citizens are sending a thank you to children of Hesston.
The Ministerial Alliance of Hesston has agreed to have each church send a representative to HFI building Saturday, April 15 at 10:00 a.m. to select toys for the children in their church who sustained severe tornado damage. If there are enough toys, we will give to all children whose homes sustained minor damage.


On the morning of March 15, 1990, Esther Schrag and Edna Willems called to see where they could best be used to help their friends and neighbors hit by the March 13 tornado. We were told to go to Whitestone Mennonite Church and help in the food pantry to distribute food to the disaster victims. When we arrived, we were met by our pastor and he asked that we get things organized. Little did we realize how big a job this was going to become and for how long.
The groceries came in by truck and car loads from all over Kansas, some from Nebraska, Texas and many caring individuals. With help from our community and Mennonite Disaster Volunteers, we unloaded, started and displayed many miscellaneous items. We had everything from liverwurst spread to toothpaste. It would have been nice to have a way to measure how many pounds or tons (?) of groceries we had. The church basement resembled a small food market, with shopping carts loaned to us from the Hesston Food Market.
On Monday, March 24. were moved everything from the church to the Disaster Center in the White Building at Hay and Forage inc. With a good response from all the churches in town, everything was moved over in one hour.
This is so hard, this just doesn't feel right, we don't want to take too much, others need it more than we. are some phrases we heard over and over. Our prayer is that we made it easier by being a friend and helping them with their shopping, listening to their story, crying with them and giving a hug. It was neat to see friends coming with friend, loving and supporting them at this difficult time.
This experience we will not ever forget and what we are writing doesn't begin to say it all. We made many new friends and we were able to work together with people from our great community. The caring, loving, reaching out and supporting of our friends and neighbors, can t help but to make for a more united Hesston. A great and rewarding experience!
Edna and Esther
Outside first Food Pantry (Whitestone Mennonite Church).
First Food Pantry (Inside).
The Food Pantry moved to HFI Office building.
L-R: Duane Graber, Edna Willems, Evelyn Rouner, Kathleen Clark
Gifts move in and out of relief clearinghouses
TUESDAY March 27, 1990
By Nickie Flynn_____________________
The Wichita Eagle
Edna Willems did not know what life as a grocer was like until after a tornado hit Hesston on March 13.
A Hesston resident, she has spent almost every day since March 13 organizing and distributing tons of emergency food donations from the Hesston Tornado Victims Fund. The group, organized by the Hesston Ministerial Alliance, is helping people in Hesston and other towns hit by the tornado.
“We have just gotten everything,” Willems said Monday. "Thursday, we had everything from liverwurst spread to toothpaste.”
Donations have come from all over the state. Floor-to-ceiling shelves in a 14-by-l8-foot room are filled with canned goods. Tables are piled with donations of food, and a supermarket donated grocery carts so volunteers could roll donations to people’s cars.
“We have loaded up and sent out 10 times as much food as we have here now,” Willems said during a break.
She could not say how many pounds of food were donated, but five single-spaced pages of a yellow legal pad contained the names of
See HESSTON, Page 4D
From Page ID
donors — one individual in Mount Hope, for instance, donated 300 pounds of hamburger. The names of people in Hesston, Burrton, Hillsboro, Goessel, Inman and McPherson who had received the donations filled 10 pages of a legal pad.
Cash donations to the Hesston Tornado Victims Fund have been made by 700 people throughout Kansas and totaled $78,000 as of Monday.
The money will be given to families to help cover uninsured losses, which are estimated at $750,000, said Dale Hochstetler, chairman of the fund’s financial committee.
Those financial donations are in addition to what the Red Cross and Salvation Army have collected.
Donations to the Midway Kansas chapter of the Red Cross totaled $45,864 by Monday. The largest corporate donation was $5,000. Individuals made most of the donations, and the cash has not covered the amount the Red Cross has spent to assist tornado victims, said Bill Hamelau. chief executive officer.
“Not including today, we had spent $73,000 for emergency needs — food, clothing, shelter, medical and household furnishings,” Hamelau said. “It’s hard to project, but a best estimate might be another $20 (thousand) to $30,000 will be spent on top of that”
The Salvation Army had received $51,200 earmarked for tornado relief as of Monday, said Bill Hinkle, business manager for the army’s Wichita branch.
"Lots of these are 10-, 15- and 20-
dollar checks,” Hinkle said.
The Salvation Army also has sent three 20-foot trucks of food, clothing and blankets to Hesston and has 3,600 pounds of food waiting to be sent
More than 23,000 pounds of food for tornado victims has been donated to the Kansas Foodbank Warehouse in Wichita, which supplies more than 160 Kansas food pantries and soup kitchens. Harvest Foods, a grocery chain, gave 15,000 pounds to the food bank, said Virginia White Bell, executive director.
Not all donations to the food bank have been distributed. A third of the food has been sent to Hesston; the rest will be distributed later, Bell said.
“About a month from now, a lot of those people are still going to need help,” she said.
Number of people who came to the food pantry to pick up food:
First five days 130
Second five days 118
Third five days 74
Fourth five days 30
Fifth five days 43
Sixth five days 22
Seventh five days 32
Eighth five days 22*
*four day span
People came to receive food 433 separate times. Some picked up food for more than one family.
Number of times a family came: 1-23 range.
On Thursday after the tornado, Ron Guengerich asked me
if I would go inside the front door of the Whitestone Church to welcome people as they came to bring food or pick up food at the Food Bank. I'm not sure how many days I did this, but at least most of the time for the next two weeks. I kept track of names of people and communities who brought food-from Lincoln, NB. to Dentin, TX. and all over this state.
I also met all recipients. Some cried as they came as it was so hard to take things. It is so much easier to give!
Most of them had someone with them those first few times they came. Later they were able to come alone.
One day I also helped prepare lunch for about 75 people at the Methodist Church. This was a good time of working together with Methodists, Catholics, and Mennonites.
I went through a time of feeling guilty because our house was spared. Helping in this was was very therapeutic to me.
Bertha Selzer
The Food Pantry not only provided more than just food for the body. It provided a time and place for sharing of stories and feelings.
Suggested foods to donate in disaster based on experience and observation by coordinator:
*Fruit juices and canned fruit (all kinds)
*Sugar—flour—salt Soups—creamed and other Mixes: cake—muffin—pancake *Breakfast Cereals—cold and to be cooked Vegetables: Canned—fresh—dry Tuna Fish *Canned Meat *Powdered Milk *Soaps: laundry—dish—hand Noodles—spaghetti—macaroni Pork & Beans—tomato sauces *Toilet Tissue—paper towels Mustard—Ketchup Potato chips—popcorn Potatoes—onions Shortening—oleo Jello—regular and sugar free Fresh Eggs (One farmer faithfully brought eggs)
Macaroni and Cheese
The Lions Club asked for list of groceries that were needed. Their $649.90 contribution was much needed and appreciated.
The seven items marked (*) disappeared as soon as they arrived. They were much needed items and more could have been used.
This is a partial listing—some preferred anonymity. Groups:
Russell, Kansas 4H Hesston Lions
Hutchinson UPS Employees Sylvia, Kansas Girl Scouts
McPherson NCRA Wichita SW Bell
Salina J.C.' s Mt. Hope Cub Scouts
ElDorado Girl Scouts Colby High School FHA
Salvation Army Red Cross
Marion Ks Telephone Pioneers Hodgeman County 4H
Harp Sons of American Legion Valley Center J.C.’s
Cheney Citizens and Emergency Food Fund Schools:
Wichita Elementary and Middle School
Douglas—Leonard Teal Elementary and Junior High
Goddard Junior High and Elementary
Bennington Grade School
Great Bend—all public schools and two parochial Santa Fe 5th Grade and Middle School
Mary Zook and Edna Willems sort the potatoes!
Bethany College
Wichita 2nd Grade Christian Challenge Maize Elementary
Companies Dillons
Braums, McPherson Domino Pizza, Derby Sirloin Stockade Harper—Larry’s IGA Sears, Hutchinson Hudson, KS—Stafford Flour Mill
Bristol Myers
J.P. Wieland Realtors & Sons Buhler: Cal-Maine Foods Pizza Hut, Hesston Denton, TX—Pillsbury Co.
Cities Lyons, KS Sedgwick, KS Delphos, KS Burrton, KS
Wichita, KS Ulysses, KS Minneapolis, KS Dodge City, KS
Garden City, KS Kiowa, KS Andover, KS Salina, KS
Ness City First Baptist Wichita Southern Baptist Eureka Christian Church Hope Community Church Winfield United Methodist Fowler Catholic Church Russell United Emmanuel Lutheran Wichita Trinity Assembly of God Whitestone SOS Sunday Class, Hesston
Andover United Methodist Tabor Mennonite Inter-Mennonite, Hesston Galatia St. Paul Lutheran Harper United Methodist
Thank you to Bud Laughlin for donating sacks and grocery carts for the Food Pantry!_____________
My Story
Immediately after the tornado I was displace from my home, only because there was no electricity, gas or telephone for a couple of days. My home was about 2 blocks north of the devastated area, and for several days after, I worked through feelings of grief and sadness for all who had lost their homes and possessions, and felt guilty that I had no damage! I shed lots of tears for and with victims of the tornado.
I volunteered to answer the telephone in the Housing Office located at HFI. Duane Graber had set up the office very efficiently, and we worked from lists of people needing homes, as well as lists of places available to live. Needs were met in a very orderly and compassionate manner.
I also volunteered help in the office under Evelyn Rouner, Coordinator.
I answered the telephone, and did projects for her as needed for several hours a day, on a scheduled basis throughout the weeks that the office was open. I enjoyed very much helping in this small way. and appreciated Evelyn's good work and compassionate manner to all.
Edna Yoder Housing Volunteer
March 29, 1990 Duane Graber
On March 17, 1990, I was asked to coordinate the housing for the victims of the March 13 tornado, commonly called the Hesston Tornado. By this time, four days after the tornado, people were temporarily housed with friends, family and neighbors. City hall gave me a list of housing that was available. This list consisted mainly of people who called in and offered their homes for the night of the tornado and a day or two following, very temporary.
I had heard that Red Cross had a list of housing available also, and I knew of a list which was started at Whitestone in the Food Pantry. I consolidated these lists into one list and began adding as people called in to make housing available. To date about 60 people have called and informed me that they had housing available. This list included mobile homes, cabins, campers, apartments, duplexes and homes.
My second task was to get a list of all the homes which were destroyed by the tornado and find out which families would need possible longer term housing.
Task three was to find out where these families were staying and find out what their housing needs were if any. I got this information from the surveys which the local churches conducted and from visiting with friends, relatives and the victims themselves. From this, I made a list of people who were in need of more temporary/permanent housing. In all, I worked with about 25 families who either inquired or requested help in finding housing. To date everyone has been satisfactorily housed except for seven families. Five of these families are living with friends, relatives or in apartments outside of Hesston. One family is living at Red Coach. They would all like to find housing in Hesston, and some are willing to wait.
Most of the families are Hesston families, however, I did work with a family from the Inman area, one from the Goessel area and one from the Hillsboro area. I did spend time talking with apartment owners in Hesston to see what their future plans would be and to see how many apartments would be opening up in the near future. All but Mr. Roupp indicated that they would probably rebuild. The apartments by the Pizza Hut are to be ready between 4-6 weeks.
The biggest need right now for housing is apartments in Hesston. The families want to come back and live in our community, however, they need affordable housing.
In summary, as I look back I believe we were in information dissemination office matching people with housing that was available. I spend a lot of time telephoning people to let them know what was available and talking with people about the housing they were offering.
There were many people who helped in this venture and I really do appreciate the time and patience people had with me. Following is a list of the people who are still looking for housing and a little about their needs.
by Evelyn Rouner
The Ministerial Alliance is a group of ministers and associate ministers from the five Hesston churches. Early in the aftermath of the tornado (within the first week) the city asked this group to assume the responsibility of doing a complete audit of the city and its destruction. This effort revealed needs and losses. Many persons helped gain this information.
HFI graciously offered the use of two of their buildings. The Alliance then became facilitator of the gifts which poured into Hesston. This group organized and set into motion the following plan for distribution:
1. Food Bank
2. Clothing Bank
3. Tornado Victim Fund Bank
4. Two offices - Housing and Counseling
The need for a coordinator became evident and on March 26, Evelyn Rouner assumed that role. A volunteer staff of 7-10 persons daily have worked since April 2 to answer the telephone, attend to the food and clothing distribution, and assist in the financial reporting and writing of checks.
The tasks of the coordinator is serving as an advocate for the people who need assistance of any kind, Iistening to stories, being sensitive to needs and finding proper resources, keeping the people updated on available resources, assisting in gaining needed information from governmental offices and agencies, persuading corporations to give their donations to the Hesston Tornado Victim Fund, keeping all segments of people-helpers informed of what is happening and what is needed, seeking ways to restore good and better beginnings to the people and City of Hesston, writing letters, attending meetings, making all kinds of decisions about a myriad of questions and problems, finding persons who have not availed themselves of resources we offer, keeping in touch with the other areas in the 100-mile strip affected by the tornado, networking the various groups working with needs, etc., etc.
We are open Monday through Friday, 9-5:30, and Saturday 8:30-12 noon.
The Ministerial Alliance was an active group before the March 13 event, having worked together over a long period of time. Together, they have assumed a major role in the city’s recovery. At first they met every day. This responsibility proved exhausting, but they were tireless. They have assumed all administrative costs; all monies given to the Tornado Victims Fund are distributed to the people. Truly they are and have been servants rising to the causes when presented.
The Harvey County Emergency Preparedness officer who stopped in last week said, "I thought the first two weeks were demanding and they were, but these weeks are even harder." No one can properly assess how much work was involved to gain government assistance through SBA and FHA loans. A lot of discernment, persistence, patience, know-how, and love of people was exercised in these kinds of 'doings."
April 28 we will close down the Furniture and Clothing Resource Center, and consolidate everything in the White Office Building of HFI. Here is a list of continuing assistance:
1. Cherry Orchard vouchers may be picked up for selection of used furniture at their used furniture warehouse in Wichita.
2. The Food Bank will continue as will the bedding.
3. Red Cross is still serving us. They may be called collect in Wichita.
4. Salvation Army is also available by calling their Newton number.
5. Pizza Hut has by now given many pizzas to those who suffered damage.
6. The Tornado Victim Fund has already distributed $160,000+ and continues.
7. Prairie View continues to serve people. Their 800 number is available.
8. Call our office - 327-6441. We will do our best for you.
It’s a privilege to be one of the many people-helpers. It has been our joy to help find solutions and ways to better meet needs. The volunteers are exceptional. Thank you for the many hours you have given cheerfully! Hundreds of persons have served this community out of caring and with love. What greater joy is there than to serve one another?
We’re here to help’
By Dennis Darrow
The Hutchinson News
HESSTON — Toni Lamonte, a national American Red Cross supervisor from San Antonio, Texas, did not want to sound like a complainer.
But, after arriving Wednesday at a near-empty disaster service center, she said, “We’d sure feel a lot better if we were busy. We’re here to help.”
Massive community, state and national relief continued to pour into Hesston the second day after a tornado smashed through about 20 percent of the city’s homes and businesses.
Under sunny skies that turned cloudy by afternoon, hundreds of volunteers and public agency workers stayed busy helping the city of about 3,000 people get back on its feet.
The effort was making an impact:
• The Kansas Army National Guard pulled its last 50 troops from the area Wednesday morning. Lt. Col. Lyn Smith, the senior officer in the area, applauded the work of the Harvey County emergency preparedness team.
“Their reaction was great,” Smith said. “There was never a problem. It was very well organized. They knew what they had to do and did it.”
• Electrical power was returned to about 80 or 85 percent of the city as of 5 p.m. Wednesday. Telephone service continued to improve, but many phones remained inoperable. Water and sewer service was never interrupted.
• Rubble from many of the 35 destroyed homes — reduced in number from an estimated 50 homes Wednesday — was taken to a makeshift dump outside the city. Roofing and other repairs were under way on a small number of the 100 homes damaged.
• Ample food and adult-sized clothing remained stockpiled at the high school, the disaster relief center for the city. Items in lesser supply included diapers, children’s clothes and bedding material.
Mayor John Waltner said he toured the city Thursday morning and noticed a stark difference from the day before.
“Yesterday (Wednesday), the visual impact was just incred-
ible,” the mayor said. “Today, there’s just a real change. Maybe the sunshine had something to do with that.”
There’s much yet to do, however.
A large amount of debris remained in the tornado's two-block-wide path through the city. Further, concerns existed about the lack of available temporary housing for those displaced by the storm.
No one was without some form of shelter. Families and friends took in those displaced by the storm. As an extra precaution, the shelter also remained available at the high school.
The city estimated that the storm caused $9 million worth of damage to real estate, Waltner said. The figure does not include damage to automobiles or personal property, he said.
The latest tally showed 35 homes destroyed, 51 with major damage, 51 with minor to moderate damage; 12 businesses either destroyed or heavily damaged; and seven apartment buildings damaged or destroyed.
Rebuilding will take months, or a year or longer.
Waltner said he was hopeful most would rebuild.
“I have not heard anything at all about people planning to leave over this,” he said. "I’m very encouraged by what I see as the community’s response. We can grow as a community. (This) can make us stronger as a community over time.”
Hundreds of volunteers, ranging from church members and students to private citizens, aided clean-up efforts. Relief agencies, including Mennonite Disaster Services and the Salvation Army, remained active.
The American Red Cross opened a full-service disaster center at Hesston High School. But, as of mid-afternoon, not enough victims took advantage of the free services offered, said Ms. Lamonte.
The agency provides immediate help with food, clothing, rent, urgent household needs, medical and hospital care, temporary home repairs, and work supplies and equipment.
Ms. Lamonte said victims should use the services.
She said that, upon her arrival Wednesday, she expected to see a large number of people. Instead, the center was near empty. "I’m just disappointed for people,” she said. “I saw the degree of destruction that’s here.”
One reason that more people had not visited the 30 Red Cross workers at the center was the enormous amount of disaster relief provided by other agencies.
The close ties among residents also may have lessened the need for outside assistance, as victims turned to families and friends for help.
Some victims also may still be confused and upset by the storm.
“They’re still in shock,” said the Rev. Bob Attebury, a Seventh-day Adventist pastor from Hutchinson who helped hand out clothes to storm victims. “They don’t even know what they need until you ask them.”
Residents showed a wide variety of emotions.
Pat McElmurry said she noticed a more optimistic tone about the town. “It’s a lot better. People are moving at a much better pace. They’re not wandering around with glassy eyes," she said.
Ms. McElmurry made the remark while standing in the shell of a structure that once was her 79-year-old mother’s house. Her mother, Elsie, suffered only minor injuries by standing in an interior section of the one-story home.
Royce Saltzman was subdued as he stood outside a vacant lot where once stood a building that housed an auto parts store he co-owned. “It was finally starting to do something,” he said of the 3-year-old store. “It’s the pits. But that’s the way it goes.”
Marcella Diller, 64, whose house was destroyed by the tornado, said she was still in awe of the support from volunteers. “I couldn’t believe how they flooded in to help. People we didn’t even know.”
Reinhard Regier, 55, may have had the most unusual viewpoint.
“The city of Hesston is going to be burned right there,” Regier said, as he looked across from his house to the makeshift dump where the rubble from the city was taken.
A large fire was burning the debris.
The tornado left the Hesston city limits at the northeast edge of town fust 2 1/2 minutes after it had entered. Hesston High School student Ryan Stauffer was standing inside the Heritage Inn, a business owned by his parents, when he saw the tornado destroy his home across the street.
“Ten seconds and it was gone,” he said. “Everything.”
Mike Hutmacher/TheWichita Eagle
National Guardsmen Roy Driskill, Anthony Brown and Eddie Stauffer patrol the streets of Hesston before sunrise the morning after the devastation occurred.
Matt Bartel/Newton Kansan
Making plans —
Gov. Mike Hayden, right, listens as a roundtable of area disaster and emergency officials discuss the extent of the damage and their strategy for dealing with it at Hesston City Hall Tuesday night as Sheriffs Detective Byron Motter, left, and county Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Lon Buller look on. Hayden, who was in Wichita for a dinner, drove to Hesston as soon as the all-clear was sounded, taking a driving tour to survey the damage. Hayden was expected to discuss measures to deal with tornado damage during an afternoon tele-conference.
mation AND YOUR support
Disaster relief groups now at one location
The Hesston Record, Thursday, March 22, 1990, Page 16
It’s hard enough keeping track of your belongings as a victim of a tornado, much less the temporary tent set-ups of groups that want to offer their assistance as you rebuild your life.
Groups involved in disaster relief efforts took a major step forward this week in consolidating their efforts to one handy location - at the white office building at 420 W. Lincoln Boulevard in the Hay & Forage Industries main building.
For instance, tornado victims with housing shelter needs - be them temporary or long-term -can go to suite No. 101, phone 327-6441, for assistance.
Or any victims suffering from uninsured losses can apply for financial aid in suite No. 105, phone 327-6464. Funds availability depends upon contributions received, according to disaster relief coordinator Roger Ratzlaff, and certain criteria have to be met for aid.
Canned foods, fresh produce, kitchen and paper supplies, basic household commodities and baby supplies are being moved from Whitestone Mennonite Church to suite No. 109, phone 327-6442.
Red Cross efforts - which include medical services and cloth-
ing, assistance in applying for loans, assistance in handling insurance claims and counseling support -- are in suite No. 117, phone 327-6485.
Need help in clean-up and rebuilding your home? Mennonite Disaster Service volunteers are available at suite No. 111, phone 327-6466.
And storage needs can be addressed by stopping in at suite 101, phone 327-6441.
Finally, coordinators have set up a lost and found in suite No. 109, phone 327-6465.
Ratzlaff noted that area churches have a ministerial alliance which can also offer help in seeking assistance. Individuals in need should call 327-6441.
One final reminder. Before any repairs or rebuilding are conducted as a result of the March 13 tornado, city administrator Jay Wieland asks that home and business owners apply for a building permit, free of charge, at the former KG&E building at 112 E. Smith, across from City Hall.
Questions can be directed to a building representative there at 327-4599 or at City Hall, 327-4412.
The Salvation Army is available
to provide emergency assistance to families affected by the tornado. This assistance can be provided through the Newton Salvation Army located at 208 W. 6th.
“We can help you with such things as appliances, furniture, bedding, clothing and some unusual needs such as an alarm clock, radio, glasses, dentures, toiletries, children’s toys and bikes,” said Salvation Army representative Kay Sholders.
Trucks loaded with debris drop their contents at the Hesston City dump after Tuesday night's tornado
Relief agencies ask for cash, housewares
By Hurst Laviana
The Wichita Eagle
Several disaster-relief organizations are well into the process of collecting food, supplies and cash for Hesston residents.
The American Red Cross has begun distributing vouchers for food and clothing for residents whose homes were devastated by Tuesday’s tornado.
Kalen Larson, a spokeswoman for the Wichita Red Cross office, said fewer than 20 Hesston residents had applied for Red Cross disaster assistance by noon Friday. But she said federal assistance is available to those who apply for it at the Red Cross’ headquarters at Hesston High School.
“It’s obvious from being up there that a lot of people need a lot of things, but they’re not coming in yet,” she said.
Larson said vouchers can be distributed to buy anything from shoes to beds, but the vouchers must be used in Hesston. The Red Cross also has assumed responsibilities for feeding as many as 2,000 residents and volunteers a day.
From Page ID
Wichita Salvation Army workers, meanwhile, already have taken three truckloads of goods to Hesston, where they are being distributed through church volunteers.
Salvation Army Capt Beverly Gates said tornado victims already have enough clothing but are still looking for dishes, kitchen utensils and cleaning supplies. She said the most pressing need was cash.
The Newton Ministerial Alliance also has begun collecting cash for Hesston residents, and alliance vice president Michael Fibranz said the group hoped to begin distributing the donations this weekend. The Mennonite Disaster Relief Services, which has been coordinating cleanup efforts for the past three days, will continue deploying trucks and workers until the cleanup is finished.
Many private businesses are collecting items to help the victims.
Mark Gale/The Wichita Eagle
Volunteers sign up to help at the Mennonite Disaster Relief headquarters at Hesston Middle School on Friday.
Crisis plan finished just in time to help students with tornado
By Jennifer Comes__________________
The Wichita Eagle
HESSTON — Gary Price was under the pool table in his basement when Tuesday’s tornado hit
Within 30 minutes, the superintendent of schools in Hesston was assessing damage to district buildings.
Hesston High School and Hesston Middle School were unharmed, but Hesston Elementary School sustained approximately $175,000 in damage, officials said. The district he said, was “really, really fortunate.”
But what Price can’t estimate — and what worries him still — is the psychological and emotional damage the storm inflicted on Hesston’s students.
“The physical problems (damage to buildings and homes) are pretty well solved,” Price said, “and for the children, there was no loss of life. I haven’t even heard of a pet. But when
you lose your things, you also have a grieving time, and kids need to deal with that.”
A “support and share” meeting for the district staff Tuesday afternoon, a faculty breakfast Wednesday and a Friday meeting for parents of Hesston students should help relieve some of the anxiety, Price said. And when classes resume Wednesday, a team of crisis-intervention counselors will be available at all three schools to help students deal with their individual traumas.
“There are going to be a lot of kids
who come back here who feel uprooted and insecure because they don’t have their regular home to go to,” Price said.
Hesston teachers also suffered personal loss from the tornado, Price said. One teacher was related to Ruth Voth, who died near Goessel. Four or five teachers’ homes sustained extensive damage, he said, and the homes of a couple of teachers were destroyed.
“They need support as well as the kids,” Price said.
The ink was barely dry on a crisis-intervention manual compiled by the Hesston, Halstead and Newton school districts, Price said, when the damage caused by the twister demanded he use it. One element of the plan was handouts for parents and teachers, to help children deal with disaster.
From Page ID
"It tells parents what to say to a child after a disaster, what to expect, dreams, what to do in the case of bad weather,” Price explained. “The team of counselors also suggested for the first few days that we go light on homework and let the kids do a lot of talking about it”
Price said relocated families should notify the school district office of their new residences. The number to call is 327-4931. If transportation is needed, it can be arranged.
Students who are missing books, lunch tickets or other school supplies should not worry about the items, he said. The district will replace them, Price said.
The Kansas Insurance Department estimated Friday that the tornado caused $15 million to $20 million in damage in Hesston alone — an estimate based on the number of homes and business destroyed.
Mark Gale/The Wichita Eagle
Red Cross volunteer Bob Marchand moves boxes at the Red Cross center at the Hesston High School.
Thank you Annie Sieber for sharing pictures of the tornado aftermath.

Visual, audio tapes of tornado
Tuesday’s devastating tornadoes have barely blown themselves out, but already there are two keepsake tapes — one from radio and one from television — available to Kansans to purchase and pass on to future generations.
It’s almost instant history. And it shows that Wichita broadcasters are abreast of the trend toward souvenir videos that began in earnest last year with East Coast hurricane coverage and solidified with the San Francisco earthquake last October.
Funds from the local tapes will benefit victims of this week’s severe weather that wreaked considerable havoc on Burrton, Hesston and rural areas surrounding them.
“Tornado: Two Hours of Terror” put together by KAKE, Ch. 10, and aired as an hour-long local news special Wednesday night, is available for $19.95 by mailing a check to KAKE, P.O. Box 10, Wichita, Kan. 67201.
Videotapes will be mailed di-
rectly from the company contracted to do the dubbing, said KAKE spokesman Mark Chamberlin. No tapes will be available directly from the station.
Proceeds above costs, which Chamberlin estimated to be about half, will be delivered to the Salvation Army for disaster relief.
The audio tape from radio KFDI is about half an hour of highlights gleaned from about six hours of on-the-spot coverage Tuesday, including reporter John Wright’s riveting eyewitness description of the tornado demolishing the Hesston Pizza Hut
On the cassette tape unit, KFDI will use the photo that was on the cover of The Wichita Eagle and
which was taken by staff photographer Dave Williams.
KFDI news director Dan Dillon said the tapes are available for a donation of $5 or more to the American Red Cross. Checks should be made payable to the Red Cross but mailed to KFDI News Department, P.O. Box 1402, Wichita, Kan. 67201.
The station will absorb the cost of sending out the tapes, Dillon said.
The audio tapes also will be available at the KFDI studios and at upcoming on-location broadcasts, such as at this weekend’s lawn and garden show at Century II, Dillon said.
While KAKE’s Chamberlin and KFDI’s Dillon said they have no
idea how many tapes their stations may eventually circulate, they both said there has been considerable interest from listeners and viewers.
Chamberlin said that a similar videotape overseen by former KAKE honcho Ron Loewen, who is now with a television station in Lake Charles, La., netted $25,000 for disaster relief of hurricane victims last year.
Vern Koch grills hamburger* at a free lunch for victim* of Tuesday’s tornado and those helping with the cleanup.
Ham-radio buffs became the voice for a silent town
By Dan Close
The Wichita Eagle
HESSTON — The tornado was long gone but calls offering and asking for help were still coming in over the airwaves Wednesday.
People were anxious to locate silent relatives. Folks were wondering whether their homes were still standing. Volunteers were offering food and clothing and shelter.
Sorting out the logistical logjam was a task taken on by more than two dozen area ham-radio buffs, who jury-rigged an emergency communications network in City Hall minutes before Tuesday night’s tornado wiped out the town's power and phone service.
"We were the only communications they had from the time of the tornado until the phones finally came on,” said Steve Fletcher of rural Hesston, taking a turn behind the mike. "We were about the only way people could talk to each other after this thing hit.
“We’ve handled literally hundreds of calls,” he said. "We were here all night and it looks like we’re going to be here for another couple of days.”
As Fletcher spoke, another call came in to the command center:
“We’ve got an offer of three to five beds in a house three-quarters of a mile south of Zimmerdale,”
came the report over a speaker.
Fletcher took the address, phone and name of the benefactor. "OK,” he answered. "I'll pass that along. We still have quite a few people needing shelter and nourishment”
Even after normal communications were restored, the hams stayed on duty to handle many details of the relief effort freeing authorities to worry about the big picture.
"Early on we were bringing up volunteer help and doing a lot of health and welfare calls, which involves helping people find other people,” said Marion Ford, a veteran Hesston ham buff who helped coordinate the radio arrangements. “It’s a matter of taking over most of the radio traffic so the police and fire and everybody don’t have to worry about it. It’s the kind of public service we train for.”
The kind of public service for which Lon Buller, the Harvey County emergency preparedness coordinator, was grateful. In his eyes, the hams were a tower of strength after the storm.
“We couldn’t have done it without them,” said Buller, himself nearing exhaustion from the ordeal. “We had them stationed all over town, feeding information from site to site. They were our basic phone system.”
For Hesston, the real work
pour in to help
By Hurst Laviana
and Guy Boulton_____________________
The Wichita Eagle
The city of Hesston wasted no time digging out from under the rubble left by a tornado that devastated 15 percent of the community’s homes and dealt a stunning blow to local businesses and utilities.
The tornado, which struck Tuesday, March 13, cut a 100-yard-wide path through the heart of the Harvey County town of 3,000, injured 14 in Hesston and killed two people in surrounding communities, authorities said.
Gov. Mike Hayden, who toured the area, declared Harvey and seven other counties disaster areas after the storm system rained 25 tornadoes on the state.
In Hesston, which bore the brunt of the storm, insurance adjusters said the damage total could exceed $22 million.
“It came so slow, it seemed like it just took forever,” said Kirk Alli-man, whose house was among the first hit by the tornado. “I remember wondering if it was going to bounce, and I never did see it bounce. ... It was just the nastiest thing I’ve ever seen.”
Alliman, president of Hesston College, took refuge in the basement Like his neighbors in west Hesston, he stayed upstairs long enough to see the huge, black, boiling cloud roll across a muddy field toward the western edge of town.
A block away, Bob Good was lying with his family on the floor of a split-level house he’d finished building in November.
"Something big — it must’ve been a two-by-four — went through the storage room wall. We heard this big thud, then the windows started going. ... I’ve seen ’em and been around ’em and really didn’t have any big fear of ’em — up to that point,” Good said.'
The day after the storm, his new house was scattered across several acres of land. His parents’ home a block away also was destroyed.
About 50 Kansas National Guards- men enforced a 9 p.m. curfew Wednesday as city officials began working on applications that could turn Hayden’s declaration into federal disaster-relief assistance.
Hesston Mayor John Waltner said the town was fortunate that the tornado passed between two anchors of
the community — Hay and Forage Industries, the town’s largest employer, and Hesston College, a private two-year college owned by the Mennonite Church.
Most of the 550 students at the college joined 800 other volunteers from around the state who helped families pack what few possessions they could salvage into donated cardboard boxes, then hauled them in grain trucks and pickups to friends and relatives whose homes had survived the storm.
Much of the cleanup work was coordinated by the Mennonite Disaster Service, an organization founded in Hesston 38 years ago that now assists disaster victims around the world.
Evelyn Harms, a Disaster Service volunteer who was helping match truckloads of volunteers with home-owners needing assistance, said the agency was founded by a Sunday school class that wanted to help flood victims in Newton.
Cleanup operations, for the most
part, went smoothly.
"Some of these people are veterans at it,” she said.
Lon Buller, Harvey County’s emergency preparedness coordinator, said many Hesston residents were home watching television when the tornado warning was sounded and had plenty of advance notice.
That early warning may have saved lives, but nothing could be done to protect property. Buller said 35 homes in Hesston were destroyed, suffered significant structural damage, and 51 others
suffered minor damage. Officials said six apartment buildings and at least a dozen businesses were damaged.
Buller said the first day of cleanup had the town back on its feet
“We can’t replace anything here,” said Hugie, a geneticist who spent much of the day searching for packages of seeds — some that had been in development for 10 years. One block away, Hugie’s home was destroyed.
At Kropf Lumber Co., one of the city’s most heavily damaged businesses, vice president Kerry Krehbiel said the storm caused $1.5 million to $2 million in damage.
"The eye of the storm came right through here,” he said.
At the northeast edge of town, the tornado left the Hesston city limits just 2 1/2 minutes after it had entered. Hesston High School student Ryan Stauffer was standing inside the Heritage Inn, a business owned by his parents, when he saw the tornado destroy his home across the street.
“Ten seconds and it was gone,” he said. “Everything”
In downtown Hesston on Wednesday, Vicki Enns Webb at Hesston Insurance Agency was fielding calls from home and car owners.
“I’ve been doing this for 10 years, and we’ve never had claims like this before,” she said. "The easiest claims to adjust unfortunately, are the ones that are totaled, because it is cut and dry. The ones that are half destroyed are real tough.”
At the high school cafeteria, where the Red Cross served lunch, residents talked about those who had been lucky and those who had not
“I own a business and a home, and the twister went between them,” said Edna Decker, one of the lucky ones, who owns a floral shop called Country Gardens.
Andrea Sanborn, one of the unlucky, said she would not take her three children back to their destroyed apartment until the family had been safely relocated in a new home.
Sanborn, a lifelong Kansan, said she’d seen her share of tornadoes but never expected to become a victim of one.
“They’ve gone around me all my life,” she said. “They’ve hit towns all around us. It always happened to someone else. I called my parents in Indiana and told them, ‘Today, we are someone else.’”
"I think it went very well, considering the utter chaos we had when we started,” he said.
Mayor Waltner agreed: “The streets have been cleared. Water, electricity and gas service have been restored to a good part of city. Now the real work begins.”
Waltner estimated it would be three to six months before the city would start seeing families moving into new homes.
Most utility service had been restored by late Wednesday, the mayor said. Dump trucks would continue hauling rubble to a landfill a mile north of town, he said.
Although the National Weather Service said a typical Kansas tornado stays on the ground for just a few minutes, forecasters said the storm that ravaged Hesston stayed on the ground 2 1/2 hours as it crossed much of central Kansas. Hesston was near the halfway point on the tornado’s 100-mile trip.
Many witnesses in Hesston said the tornado slammed into the west edge of town just as they had settled into chairs to watch the evening news — news punctuated with talk of potentially deadly tornadoes. On Wednesday, just up the street from where Bob Good’s house once stood, Jerry Troyer was sorting through the remains of his furniture refinishing business. He said he was inside listening to the radio when a tornado was coming “There used to be houses out there, and trees, so you couldn’t see it coming” he said, pointing to the west
Troyer said that when he ran into an open field and saw the black funnel roaring closer, he ran to a nearby home and took shelter.
“It was just a-brewin’,” he said. Bill Hugie stood Wednesday where the Delta and Pine Land Co. research building used to be. The research facility developed special strains of sorghum before it was destroyed by the tornado.
Thousands Aid Stricken City After Tornado

By Paul Schrag
Assistant Editor
HESSTON, KAN.—The disaster happened with shocking suddenness. Almost as quickly, it seemed, the people of Hesston pulled together, picked up the pieces and made a new beginning.
With an outpouring of help from thousands of volunteers—including one of the largest Mennonite Disaster Service efforts ever—Hesston last week went from a town in shambles to a town starting to rebuild.
As many as 10,000 MDS volunteers helped clean up in Hesston and rural areas in the tornado’s path, Kansas MDS chairman Irvin Harms said March 19.
In the week after the March 13 tornado, Hesston residents experienced-shock, sorrow and hope.
“I’m optimistic that this community is going to rebuild better than ever,” said Conrad Miles as he raked debris in front of what little was left of his home. “That’s just the way you have to look at it.”
AMID THE LOSS of homes, businesses and possessions, there was reason to be thankful: Miraculously, no one in Hesston was killed, and only about a dozen people were injured.
“I’ve heard this story over and over,” said Herb Minnich, pastor of Hesston Inter-Mennonite Fellowship. “When I saw it coming I prayed, 'Lord, save our lives.' " I believe God heard those prayers.” Said Donna Koehn, secretary at Whitestone Mennonite Church: "We shed a few tears, but we’re so lucky we’re all alive.”
The tornado’s toll of destruction was heavy in this mostly Mennonite town of 3,000 people. Eighty-four homes were destroyed, 37 were so badly damaged they had to be torn down, and 98 were damaged but repairable. About a dozen businesses were heavily damaged or destroyed.
Damage in Hesston was estimated to be $21 million. That accounted for most of the $25 million total damage in Harvey, Marion and Reno counties.
IN THE STRICKEN parts of town, the crushed homes, broken trees and scattered wreckage presented a huge task for clean-up workers. Those areas were filled with a flurry of activity as masses of volunteers began arriving the day after the disaster.
Miles was one of many residents
deeply thankful for the help. “We had so many people here. It was fantastic,” he said. “There were people who I didn’t even know.”
Minnich summed up Hesston residents’ gratitude for the volunteer workers and many donations of food, clothing and other goods: "We are inundated with compassion here,” he said.
Already by the morning of March 15, workers toiling in the cold wind had made lots of progress. Piled-up debris was being loaded into trucks, and a steady stream of traffic was hauling rubble to a dump site outside of town.
“IT’S AMAZING what progress they’ve made since yesterday,” said MDS worker Dwayne Abrahams of rural Newton. He said the disaster created a unique opportunity for central Kansas Mennonites to help disaster victims in the local area.
It also created some unusual alliances of workers. The MDS crew at the destroyed Sav-A-Trip truck stop at the north edge of town was working alongside military personnel from McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita.
Students from Mennonite colleges turned out in large numbers to work. Virtually the entire Hesston College community helped out when classes were canceled March 14. The tornado missed Hesston College.
About 350 Bethel College students and other staff came from North Newton to work March 14. About 70 Tabor College students and faculty

We shed a few tears, but we’re so lucky we’re all alive.

made the longer trip from Hillsboro to do their part.
A group of volunteers came from Udall, a town that received MDS aid after it was ravaged by one of the deadliest tornados in Kansas history in 1955.
MDS WORKERS came by the busload from across Kansas, and some came from other states. The largest number of MDSers came the day after the tornado and on Saturday. With such a huge influx of workers, MDS leaders had their hands full dispatching all the volunteers to the work sites.
“We just about ran the wheels off some of our pickups,” Harms said. “The response has been terrific. MDS thanks everybody.”
Harms said that in more than 20 years with MDS he had never seen so many volunteers in such a short time.
By March 19, MDS work in Hesston was winding down. The clean-up in town had been pretty much completed, and some MDSers were doing repair work on homes, Harms said. Of the 200 to 300 MDSers at work March 19, many had been sent to rural areas to pick up debris in fields.
OF THE FOUR Mennonite churches in town, the only one that sustained damage was Hesston Mennonite Brethren Church. The roof of the church’s foyer section was destroyed, and part of the roof over the sanctuary was blown off.
Windows were broken, and a lot of insulation, milo-field stubble and mud blew in. Clean-up and shortterm repair work was done in time for the Sunday service, but complete repairs will take months.
The tornado- barely missed the church. “It was very near,” said Bruce Hofer, chairman of the congregation’s board of Financial ministries. “If it had swung a couple of hundred feet over, I’m not sure if we’d have much left.”
Mennonite churches in Hesston helped collect relief supplies for tornado victims. Koehn said there had been a terrific response from surrounding communities for the food pantry at the Whitestone Church. Many who needed food were having a hard time accepting such charity.
“We’re all learning a lot about giving and receiving,” she said. “There are a lot of good people in the world.”
IN ADDITION to the organized efforts of volunteers and collection of supplies, there were countless examples of neighbors helping neighbors.-Minnich said he was amazed at how quickly everyone was taken care of by friends and neighbors the night after the storm.
Hesston residents told of the awesome sight of the twister approaching the town. “It just kept coming and it looked so horrible,” said Kirk Alli-man, president of Hesston College. In the basement with his Wife, Jean, and daughter Sarah, 8, “we just started praying and hugging,” he said.
After it passed over, “we poked our heads out of the basement and looked around to see what was left,” he said. The roof had been blown off, and the ceiling had collapsed in the room that served as an office.
A few minutes later he heard a phone ring amid the wreckage. It was the phone on the desk in the office, underneath the fallen ceiling. “I crawled on my hands and knees and groped for the receiver, forced it off and put it to my ear,” he said.
AFTER ALLIMAN said “hello,” the caller said, “Hi, Kirk, this is your
mother. How are things?” She was calling from her home in Iowa City, Iowa, having heard there were tornados in central Kansas.
“It was an amazing moment,” Al-liman said.
The next day, students from Hess-
4 4
We just about ran the wheels off some of our pickups. The response has been terrific. MDS thanks everybody.

ton, Bethel and Tabor colleges helped clean up the rubble of the Al-limans’ destroyed house—an example of inter-Mennonite cooperation, Alliman said.
Bob Latta, editor of The Hesston Record, described the tornado’s path through Hesston:
“Clocks in Hesston stopped about 5:40 p.m. as the twister . . . roared into the western part of the city along Erb and Roupp streets and moved northeast across Knott. The tornado ripped apart the businesses in Ole Town Square and headed for the sprawling regional lumber facility of Kropf Lumber on North Lancaster.
"THE DEADLY storm then apparently veered to the east and tore through the area just north of the main downtown business block. After that, it ripped into the residential area east of Main Street, heavily damaging parts of it, and moved northeast to the eastern edge of Hesston, where it destroyed or heavily damaged businesses near the entrance to 1-135.”
Businesses that were damaged or destroyed, according to the Record, were Delta and Pineland seed research facility, Troyer’s Furniture and Restoration, Hesston Machine and Welding, Hesston Decorating Center, The Photographer, Ole Town Cleaners, Hesston Veterinary Clinic, Kropf Lumber Co., Paul’s Inc., Hesston Concrete, Reimer Plumbing and Heating, The Source, Hesston Electric, Hair Designs, Pizza Hut, Sav-A-Trip and a car-and-truck wash.
Thirteen households of Hesston College faculty, staff or married students had significant damage or property loss.
Among members of Whitestone Mennonite Church, about 15 families’ homes were damaged or destroyed. Thirty-five families of Hesston Mennonite Church had property damage. The homes of two Hesston Inter-Mennonite Fellowship families were destroyed, and six homes were damaged severely. At Hesston Mennonite Brethren Church, five or six families lost their homes.
March 22, 1990 / Mennonite Weekly Review
Calling card left
MANHATTAN (AP) - The powerful tornado that devastated Hesston Tuesday night left its calling card 80 miles away in Manhattan.
Checks from Reimer Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning Co. of Hesston were found behind Manhattan’s Memorial Hospital and Municipal Airport on Wednesday morning.
The Hesston business was destroyed by a tornado that stayed on the ground for more than two hours Tuesday evening. The checks — one of them from 1973 — were thought to have been carried by the strong wind to Manhattan.
College offers aid
GOSHEN, Ind, (AP) - Students and faculty at Goshen College held a special chapel service Wednesday and offered aid to another Mennonite Church school damaged during a tornado in Kansas.
Lois Kurowski, a spokeswoman for the college, said several of the Goshen College students are from Hesston, which sustained extensive damage Tuesday night in a tornado.
Hesston College, a two-year liberal-arts college, was not damaged; however, a home owned by the college was destroyed, and others owned by faculty were damaged.
'The ones that didn't get hurt are helping the ones who did'
Despite massive devastation in Hesston, scattered bits of humor are helping many residents cope with the disaster. The sign
Photo by Monty Davis
and American flag above adorn the remains of a business that once was part of a mini-mall in the southwest part of the city.
Dick and Margaret Dwyer, left, look at the remains of their mobile home, which took them 12 years to build at the Hutchinson Water Sports Club near Burrton. 'We do have some insurance, but it won't cover it all,' Mrs. Dwyer said. 'Dick told me just the other day that this year we could sit back and enjoy all the hard work we had put into our favorite summertime spot.' One of the Dwyer's boats was found in a tree; a sailboat and dock they made have yet to be found.
Photo by Sandra Watts
Insurance adjusters flock to damaged areas
By Sara Peterson
The Hutchinson News
In the wake of Tuesday night’s devastating storm, insurance agents and adjusters spent Wednesday surveying the damage left behind.
Insurance claims representatives spent the day talking with policyholders, as well as inspecting the damage done to homes, businesses and automobiles. They also tried to find accomodations and trans-portaton for those hardest hit by the storm.
In some cases, insurance agents handed out cash advances to help families in dire straits.
"You go up and you see the people,” said Brady Krueger, a partner in Krueger Insurance Management Inc. of Newton. "This is the time they want to see you. After all these years of paying in, this is when it comes home. I owe them that allegiance. I need to be there to explain the policy or just give them a shoulder to cry on.”
Krueger said he spent the morning in Hesston visiting policyholders.
Krueger agency represents about 30 Hesston and two Burrton homeowners. Although there was some damage to his policyholder’s homes, most escaped serious damage.
Insurance companies didn’t have a firm dollar figure on the damage wrought by the estimated 25 tornadoes that hit central Kansas Tuesday night. That figure, they said would not be available until
late Wednesday night or Thursday morning.
“Right now we’re taking care of people’s immediate needs,” said Bruce Hull, resident claims superintendent State Farm Insurance in Salina. “We’re making advances to people in dire need. It’s a trying time.”
Six State Farm representatives, Hull said, including Hutchinson’s area superintendent, three claims representatives and two agents were out surveying damage in Hesston and throughout Harvey and Reno counties Wednesday.
After making an initial damage survey and helping policyholders, insurance company representatives said they would decide how many additional claims adjusters would be needed to expedite claims. If need be, others will brought in from other parts of the state and the nation.
Preliminary figures, Hull said, showed that 25 percent of the homes in Hesston were insured by his company. Of the estimated 100 homes that were either destroyed or badly damaged in that city, he estimates 25 were insured by State Farm.
At least six homes were confirmed destroyed, Hull said.
“We’re getting the losses reported as soon as we can,” said Doyle Morton, supervisor of adjusters for Farm Bureau Insurance in Manhattan. “We will certainly look at the worst ones first, then work through the rest. We will eventually inspect a large share of
the homes we insure (for damage).”
Farm Bureau had claim representatives driving throughout Reno, Harvey and McPherson counties getting leads on new claims by mobile phone, Doyle said.
Farm Bureau has written 7,000 homeowners, auto and property policies in Harvey County alone. While there is no firm number on how many of those policy owners will have claims, the company plans to set up a mobile storm claims office in Hesston during the next week.
Wednesday the company had four claim representatives out in Reno and Harvey counties, Morton
said that number could increase to 15 to 20 as claims begin to be settled.
The Overland Park-based Insurance Information Institute issued a bulletin Wednesday urging tornado victims to contact their agents immediately when they find damage.
Since not all the damage done by the storm will be found immediately, Mick Childs, a Hutchinson State Farm claims superintendent, said it could be months before all the claims are made, especially on automobiles.
“You always get a few stragglers,” he said.
Photo by Chris Ochsner
A farmhouse southwest of Hesston was knocked off its foundation by Tuesday's tornado. Insurance adjusters are flocking to central Kansas to help tornado victims deal with the devastation.
Hutch chiropractor offers a helping hand — literally
Hutchinson chiropractor Doug Holtz has decided it’s time to pay some people back.
Holtz is offering free chiropractic treatment to Mennonite and Amish volunteers who have been helping the victims of Tuesday’s tornado in Harvey, Reno and McPherson counties.
The gesture, Holtz said, seemed like a natural way to thank the group’s members for the help they gave his parents and their neighbors after a tornado ripped through their hometown of Clay Center in
September 1973.
“The Mennonites and the Amish came in to help after the tornado,” Holtz said. “Here’s something I can do to pay them back."
The tornado that hit Clay Center, a town of nearly 5,000 about 40 miles south of the Nebraska border, was part of a tornadic storm system that cut a 150-mile-long swath through central and north central Kansas.
Before the storm died out in southeastern Nebraska, it killed three people and injured 53.
Cleanup begins as Reno recovers
By Dennis Darrow
The Hutchinson News
Cleanup efforts began, and the city of Haven remained without power at dawn Wednesday in southern Reno County, the area first hit by a major tornado that later inflicted heavy damage on Harvey County.
Electrical service resumed in Haven in the afternoon.
The twister and high winds damaged more Reno County farm homes than initially thought, said Reno County emergency preparedness director Bill Walker.
The latest count showed six houses destroyed and five heavily damaged — three more than reported late Tuesday, he said. Sixteen more suffered light damage, he said.
Reno County Red Cross director Patty Biehler estimated 20 people were left homeless by the tornado. All found places to stay with either family or friends, she said.
None took advantage of disaster shelters set up at Buhler Grade School and South Hutchinson Methodist Church, she said.
The destruction occurred between 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesday in a 2 1/2-mile-wide path in a southeast section of the county.
In addition to wrecking houses, the tornado toppled numerous farm buildings, automobiles, farm machines, trees and power poles. An unknown number of farm animals died.
No people reported receiving injuries.
Heavier damage was averted because the twister raced through only sparsely populated areas in Reno County. It swept just north of Haven, a city of 1,200 about 14 miles southeast of Hutchinson.
Haven remained without electricity until 2:15 p.m. Wednesday.
Electrical service to the city quit when the tornado knocked down a line of electrical poles north of the
city. Water service remained in operation.
Haven maintenance supervisor Don Huston said the electrical outage virtually shut down the city. “Everything’s closed down,” he said Wednesday morning. “The grocery store is putting dry ice on everything.”
Haven residents never complained about the power outage, said city clerk Vera R. Hiett.
“Everybody seems to be taking it real well because most of them have been out and seen the farm families,” she said.
Kansas National Guardsmen late Wednesday morning brought in generators to restore full power to the city’s Life Care Training Center, a care facility for 69 mentally retarded people. The center operated on only partial power — supplied by a small generator — until
the arrival of the larger generators.
A church outside the city, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, which receives electricity from a different power company, began serving meals and drinks to area residents and cleanup crews about 11:30 a.m.
"The entire community has just opened their hearts and pantries and brought an abundance of food,” said Lois Schlickau of Haven, a member of the church who also is a state Board of Agriculture member.
Hundreds visited the church over the lunch hour. The church planned to stay open as long as necessary, Mrs. Schlickau said.
Haven Post Office clerk Gordon Flickinger was among those who visited the church after helping with cleanup operations in the morning. The entire community had joined in the cleanup, he said.
“Everybody just kind of went around looking for places to help. The one’s that didn’t get hurt are helping the one’s who did,” Flickinger said.
Lynn Giffert welcomed the volunteers.
At about 10:30 a.m., Giffert stood in front of his family’s ruined two-story farm home north of Haven while about two dozen people* helped clean the area. The twister tore away the front wall of the house.
Giffert said he tried to remain upbeat.
“Somebody asked me about 6:30 (this morning) how I could laugh about it,” said Giffert. “What else
you going to do? We’re just thankful no one was hurt.”
Connie Brauer was also optimistic.
“It could have been worse. It could have hit Haven like it did Hesston,” she said, as she stood in the doorway of her family’s single story home north of Haven. The right side of the home was destroyed.
The majority of farm houses destroyed or damaged in Reno County were in two places: Southeast of Castleton, a small city about 13 miles south of Hutchinson where the twister first struck; and between Haven and Yoder.
The damage was caused by the same tornado.
Two other tornadoes touched down near Buhler about two hours after the first tornado, but neither caused much damage in Reno County. One was suspected of causing extensive damage in southern McPherson County.
Reno County Red Cross officials began assessing damage in the county about 7 a.m. Volunteer teams scoured the southern and eastern sections of the county, looking for damage and visiting with residents.
“Most people are just really trying to get their belongings restored before it starts snowing or raining,” said one disaster volunteer. Rain clouds threatened the area all day Wednesday.
Reno County sheriffs officers patrolled the damaged areas to maintain order.
The tornado's first serious damage occurred at this farm northeast of Pretty Prairie. The tornado first touched down a
few miles north of Pretty Prairie and continued on a northeasterly path while growing in size.
Photo by Chris Ochsner
Rural Neighbors Help Each Other Through Crisis in Storm's Wake
March 22, 1990 / Mennonite Weekly Review
By Paul Schrag and Marjorie A. Jantzen
Of the Review staff
THE SCENE will be forever etched in memory: a vicious black cloud reaching down from the boiling sky, flattening trees and swirling dust, advancing toward an isolated and defenseless farmhouse.
It is a sight central Kansas farmers pray they’ll never see again.
On the evening of March 13, Ella Flickinger and her son Larry watched the twister approach across the fields about six miles northeast of Burrton until it was a mile or half a mile from their place.
Ella and her late husband, Jake, had moved to the farm in 1936. They brought up seven children there. Now Larry and his wife lived in another house on the same place. “Everything we did, we did together,” Ella said of the family’s closeness.
AS THE TORNADO came nearer, they decided to get away in Larry’s pickup. When they returned after the storm had passed, state patrol cars were waiting. The two houses were badly damaged, and all the outbuildings were gone.
Larry got out to look at the sad scene. He came back and leaned on the passenger door, Ella remembered two days later.
“Mom, we don’t have anything,” he had told her.
She recalled, "I reached out and hugged him and said, ‘We’re still alive.’ ”
The Flickingers’ story was one of many terrifying experiences that unfolded during a fateful 2 1/2 hours along a 100-mile stretch of Kansas prairie March 13. When it was over, two people were dead: Ruth Voth, 67, of rural Goessel, and Lucas Fisher, 6, of rural Burrton.
THE HUGE twister passed northeast of Pretty Prairie, west of Burrton, through Hesston, east of Goessel, south of Hillsboro and into Morris County, leaving a trail of destruction (see map on page 2). Another tornado cut a four-mile path north of Inman.
The storm damaged or destroyed 65 rural homes in Harvey County, 11 in Reno County and 21 in Marion County. Many other farm buildings were hit.
In the countryside all along the tornado’s line, the disaster brought examples of how neighbors, friends, church members and other volunteers can care for each other in a time of crisis.
It was reported that people surveying the damage from airplanes could see 10 or more vehicles parked at every rural farmstead as people turned out to help in any way they could.
One such place was the farm of Jim and Diana Schmidt south of Goessel. Neighbors arrived within minutes after the tornado passed and helped remove the herd of cows from the destroyed dairy barn. Most of the animals were all right. Before dark, the damaged farmhouse was boarded up, Jim said.
THE NEXT DAY, more than 100 Goessel area people and others came to clean up the Schmidts’ house and clear away the rubble. “It was monumental what they did yesterday,” Jim said March 15. “What they did ... it just says it all.”
He is the Mennonite Disaster Service contact person for Tabor Mennonite Church near Goessel. That position usually would involve organizing efforts to help others. “The shoe’s on the other foot now,” he said.
Farther along the tornado’s trail, the storm claimed the life of Ruth Voth, a member of Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church near Goessel. She was at home alone when the tornado hit her house directly.
Voth had just returned from Newton Medical Center, where her husband, Harold, was in for surgery. She was found beside the road and apparently had died instantly.
FIVE OTHER Alexanderwohl Church families had tornado damage to their property. At the other Goessel area churches, six Tabor Mennonite Church families experienced losses and no Goessel Mennonite Church members were affected.
Between Highway 50 and Hesston were many tornado-stricken residences. Eli and Opal Bontrager’s fruit-and-vegetable farm took a direct hit. All their buildings were reduced to rubble.
The Bontragers left by vehicle as the tornado approached. They have an old-fashioned storm cellar but would have been trapped in it if they had used it. It was covered with a heap of rubble.
At Stan and Sharon Swartzendru-ber’s place west of Hesston, the cattle lot was empty of animals. About 20 head of beef cattle were lost. The rest were found running down the road after the tornado.
members of Whitestone Mennonite Church in Hesston, lost everything. Hesston Machine and Welding, where Stan worked with his father, was heavily damaged. “No house, no job,” Stan said of his situation.
Among the hardest-hit farms in Marion County was the dairy operation of James Thiessen. It was reported that the home was unlikely to be salvagable.
In addition to damaged property and homes, debris in fields was a concern for farmers. Some MDS volunteers were sent into the muddy fields to gather debris. The scattered wreckage will be a hazard for farm machinery if it is not picked up before crops grow tall enough to hide it.
After four days of working to undo the tornado’s damage, the storm victims and those who had helped them gathered in their churches on a cold, rainy Sunday. There were hugs, tears and words of comfort and hope.
rural congregation whose members found strength in their fellowship on Sunday. Even the children had an opportunity to tell how the tornado had affected them.
Co-pastor Ray Hurst told the children, “Today I am very grateful to God. Some of us lost our homes, some of us lost our businesses, but God has saved our lives. We are very grateful for God’s protection.”
Cleanup begins on the morning after the tornado in the northern end of downtown Hesston. Most of this area is commercial; a small housing complex is at upper right. The largest business shown in this area is
Kropf Lumber Co., with its main retail building at the upper left. About a dozen businesses in Hesston were heavily damaged or destroyed.
(Photo by Ken Mantyla of The Wichita Eagle)
Volunteers load debris on a truck near Highway I-135 north of Hesston. On March 16, a steady stream of trucks brought about 80 loads of rubble per hour for 10 hours to the nearby landfill —one load every 45 seconds. (Review photo)
Vol. 58. No. 15 50 Thursday, April 12, 1990 24 Pages
SBA to open Hesston field office
The Small Business Administration (SBA) will be opening a field office in Hesston this week, after declaring Harvey, Butler, Marion, McPherson, Reno and Sedgwick counties a disaster area as a result of the March 13 tornado.
According to word from U.S. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum’s office Wednesday morning, the SBA will open an office Friday, April 13, in the former KG&E building, 112 E. Smith, across the street from city hall.
The office will be open from 8 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturdays.
The office will be open until Friday, May 4, so persons should make contact right away, said Brad Traverse, of Kassebaum’s office.
According to the SBA, as a result of the declaration persons are eligible for physical and economic injury loan assistance.
Farmers and ranchers, however, are not eligible to apply for the SBA business or economic injury loans.
SBA physical disaster loans are to assist homeowners, renters, businesses and nonprofit organizations in repairing or replacing property damaged in the March tornado.
In addition to physical loss loans, SBA makes economic injury disaster loans for business and small agricultural cooperatives which have experienced substantial financial losses as a result of the tornados.
If a small business in any of the listed counties was normally able to meet its bills and pay operating expenses, but cannot do so now as a direct result of the disaster declared, it may be eligible.
The economic injury loan program is available only to small busi-
nesses which are able to meet SBA size standards and which do not have credit available elsewhere.
Interest rates for homes and businesses are 4 or 8 percent; for nonprofit organizations, 4 and 9.25 percent, and for economic injury loans, 4 percent.
The deadline for filing for physical loss loans is June 8, 1990. The deadline for economic injury loans is Jan. 9, 1991.
SBA loans approved for tornado damage
By Alissa Rubin________________
Eagle Washington bureau
WASHINGTON — The Small Business Administration will be authorized to make at least $2 million in loans to homeowners and businesses whose property was damaged by tornadoes on March 12 and 13, Sen Bob Dole’s office said Monday.
In an order stemming from an assessment of damage to uninsured and underinsured homes and businesses, the SBA declared Harvey, McPherson, Reno, Sedgwick and Marion counties disaster areas.
Property owners will be able to apply for the SBA loans at a field office that will be set up in Hesston or through the Kansas City regional office of the SBA.
The SBA estimated that damage to uninsured or underinsured homes in Harvey County totaled
$1.6 million. Damage to uninsured or underinsured businesses totaled $1.2 million.
Under the SBA order, loans for physical damage to homes and businesses that have credit available elsewhere will carry interest rates of 8 percent; those that have no credit available will be eligible for loans at a 4 percent interest rate.
Businesses and agricultural cooperatives also will be eligible for loans for economic injury — losses resulting from the interruption of business. Those loans will carry a 4 percent interest rate.
Earlier this month, the SBA had surveyed Hesston and other areas hit by tornadoes in mid-March and decided that so much of the property was insured that SBA loans were not warranted.
Disaster loan deadline is approaching
WICHITA - The filing deadline is rapidly approaching for certain disaster loans resulting from physical damage caused by the March 12 and 13 tornadoes in Kansas.
Applications for U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Natural Disaster Loans will be accepted until June 8, according to district director Clayton Hunter.
Counties eligible for these loans are Harvey, Butler, Marion, McPherson. Reno and Sedgwick. These disaster loans are not grants; they must be repaid.
Interested victims can receive information and applications by calling a toll-free number, 1-800-527-7735.
Completed applications can be mailed to the SBA Area Disaster Office, 4400 Amon Carter Boulevard. Fort Worth. Tx. 76155.
Applications must be postmarked no later than June 8. 1990.
The Wichita Eagle
SUNDAY March 25, 1990
Fernando Salazar/The Wichita Eagle
Inman High School juniors scrape mud off their shoes after helping clean up farms in the Inman area. The students are, from left. Audrey Horton. Annel Stephens, Natalie Nickel, Kathy Estep and Jenny Peters.
SATURDAY May 26, 1990
With Dole on lookout, Hesston lands funds
By Alissa-Rubin
Eagle Washington bureau WASHINGTON — The small town of Hesston and surrounding Harvey County, which were ravaged by tornadoes in March, are lucky to have Sen. Bob Dole in Washington looking out for them.
Hesston never applied for federal disaster assistance — in part, because more than 80 percent of the damage was insured — so the federal bureaucrats did not know that a twister had torn up parts of the town.
Technically, only the president and the Federal Emergency Management Agency can declare disasters and tap the treasury for aid.
But because Dole is a senior Republican senator, he was able to persuade Congress that Hesston was a disaster area and needed $2.5 million to get back on its feet Congress included the $2.5 million
in a $4 billion emergency spending bill sent to President Bush early Friday after the House gave it final, approval. The Senate had already passed the measure.
If you are in Hesston, the senator’s clout and the money is: “Exciting,” said Hesston Mayor John Waldner. “It will be a tax savings to people in our community." If you are an anonymous bureaucrat at the Office of Management and Budget who refused to be quoted by name, it is:
“A sheer political move. It’s never happened before, or if so, not in a very long time.”
The way Dole did it — with money from the Federal Emergency Management Administration not available — was to turn to the Economic Development Administration. Usually the EDA gives grants
See HESSTON, Page 3D
From Page ID
when a manufacturing plant is closing and the workers need help finding new jobs, or the owners need a loan to keep the plant going. They also get involved when there is damage on the scale of Hurricane Hugo or last fall’s earthquake in San Francisco to business areas.
There were no manufacturing plants at issue in Hesston, and, in contrast to Hurricane Hugo and the San Francisco earthquake, Hesston had done a good job of cleaning up, federal officials said.
The city will pay for the rest of the cleanup and be able to upgrade their streets and city park as well, projects that otherwise would require a tax hike, said Waldner.
Ken Zender who administers the regional EDA office in Denver said he could not remember a similar
situation but had come to Hesston at the request of Dole’s staff.
"Normally it does require that it be a presidentially declared disaster but in some cases like this one we make an exception,” said Ken Zender, the regional representative of the EDA in Denver.
“The very fact that Sen. Dole is working on it may have something to do with the attention it’s getting,” he said.
The same tornado system dropped a little money — $2.5 million —on Nebraska at the behest of Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., who said this was a similar case in which it was right to bend the rules and give money to insured property.
Most of the damage in Nebraska was to heavily insured telephone lines, said Carl Suchoski, a spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Administration.
Contributing: Associated Press
SBA closes office, but help still available
The Small Business Administration field office which opened recently in Hesston closed last week, a week earlier than planned, but that doesn’t mean help isn’t available.
SBA officials say that anyone with uninsured losses from the tornado who hasn’t made contact with the SBA can still do so by calling toll free 1-800-527-7735.
Loan officers at this phone number can assist in filling out forms by telephone. Then after the formal paperwork is completed, a representative will come to Hesston and help with the paperwork processing in person.
That’s according to Charlotte Hartwell, a loan officer contacted through the SBA toll free office.
Originally, SBA intended to staff
an office at the KG&E building at 112 E. Smith in Hesston from Friday, April 13, through Friday, May 4.
The office closed, though, Thursday, April 26, for lack of processing activity, according to Hartwell.
By April 25, a total of 38 individuals had been served as claimants with uninsured home or personal property losses, and 23 of those had brought the paperwork back, completed.
And 15 business owners had been contacted for discussions concerning their uninsured physical damages. Four of these business owners had returned paperwork completed.
Finally, four business owners were contacted for claiming economic financial losses. None had returned their paperwork by April
25 when the office closed, Hartwell said.
Hartwell noted that county and state officials were said to have personally contacted each individual and business listed on disaster relief surveys to remind them that the SBA was in Hesston to help.
“I believe we helped 75 percent or more of those intending to file for relief (while the office was open in Hesston),” Hartwell said.
SBA physical disaster loans are available to assist homeowners, renters, businesses and nonprofit organizations in repairing or replacing property damaged in the March tornado.
In addition to physical loss loans, SBA makes economic injury disaster loans for business and small agricultural cooperatives which have experienced substantial financial losses as a result of the tornados.
If a small business in Harvey, Butler, Marion, McPherson, Reno or Sedgwick counties was normally
able to meet its bills and pay operating expenses, but cannot do so now as a direct result of the disaster declared, it may be eligible.
The economic injury' loan program is available only to small businesses which are able to meet SBA size standards and which do not have credit available elsewhere.
Farmers and ranchers, however, are not eligible to apply for SBA business or economic injury' loans.
Interest rates for homes and businesses are 4 or 8 percent; for nonprofit organizations, 4 and 9.25 percent, and for economic injury' loans, 4 percent.
The deadline for filing for physical loss loans is June 8, 1990. The deadline for economic injury loans is Jan. 9, 1991.
VOLUNTEERS (Partial List)
Many, many persons volunteered hours and are unknown to us. We thank you—you know who you are. Those who did the house to house checking—shut off gas valves— did the community audit—took people into their homes— listened to needs—telephoned—loaned equipment—walked the fields—prayed—provided transportation, etc. THANK YOU!
So many people joined the Mennonite Disaster Service and assisted in the clean-up of our community. The local churches gave liberally of their personnel and time. The city employees gave of their time and expertise in many ways. Outlying organizations and people from many places from miles away came and assisted in a myriad of ways.
Thank you for caring!
Housing Volunteers Eleanor Hackenberg Jeannie Dreier Lois Hershberger Edna Yoder Louise Krehbiel Joan Dreier Jody Schwanke
Volunteer Chairpeople Verna Shoemaker Wilma Friesen
at HFI Office Building Mary Erb Roberta Nikkei Arlene Doty Susie Hartman Shirley Minnich Kathy Woosley
Middle School Volunteers
for Toy Distribution Freda Spena Tonya Keim Jodi Rempel Carla Sheats Megan Goering Donna Schaddler Kermit Gingerich Gary Carson
Setting up for Inventory of Toys Arliss Swartzendruber Carol Swartzendruber and son-in-law
Financial Aid Volunteer Lu Schmidt Irene Koehn Lois Hershberger
Volunteers for Clothing/Furniture— Communication Building HFI Alvin & Gertrude Blough Ernest & Ella Schmidt Bill & Liz Barge Clyde & Anna Jantz Clarence Sommerfeld Ruth Mason Lela Stutzman Katie Ropp
Leonard & Lucille Schmucker
Lillian Claassen
Vernon & Lois Roth
Grace Augsburger
Chester & Leona Miller
John Detwiler
Lois Zehr
Floris Miller
Ida Horst
Erma Henard
Alice Reschley
Jeannene Mast
Alta Hostetler
Mervin & Dorothy Troyer
Willard Brunk
Arnold & Wilmetta Dietzel
Jody Schwanke
Coordinator Office
Volunteers—White Office
Building HFI
Elizabeth Barge
Doris Diller
Pauline Diller
Arlene Doty
Joan Dreier
Mary Erb
Ev Godshall
Erma Henard
Ida Horst
Louise Krehbiel
Ethel Lind
Alice Martin
Alice Reschley
Lois Roth
Jody Schwanke
Verna Stucky
Edna Yoder
Hazel Yoder
Naomi Weaver
Lois Hershberger
Irene Koehn
Verna Shoemaker
Thank-you Note Volunteers
(Hickory Homes & Villa)
Ethel Lind
Inez Diener
Katie Ropp
Lois Hershberger
Irene Johnson
Garage Sale Volunteers Cashiers:
Edna Yoder Lois Hershberger Lu Schmidt
Pauline & Allen Diller Clerks:
Verna Shoemaker
Mervin & Dorothy Troyer
Alice Reschly
Amy Sommerfeld
Arnold & Wilmetta Dietze]
Clyde & Anna Jantz
Willard Brunk
John Detwiler
Food Pantry Elvin & Bertha Selzer Edna Willems Esther Schrag Naomi Weaver Elda Roupp Era June Colby Dale & Alice Pracht Many other volunteers
Prairie View Staff Volunteers:
Tom Shane Bob Carlson Mary Ann Short Nancy Blaine Steve Stone Phil Lamar Dale Pracht Mary Carman Linda Loraine Paul Unruh Pam Burns Ruth Proisch Larry Clark Richard Archer James Moore Harry Neufeld Vernon Yoder Armin Samuelson Arlys Schwabauer A1 Schmidt Marie Maugans Larry Hays Orlyn Zehr Walt Thiessen Rog Rogers Carol Abrahams Marjean Harris Carla A. Stucky -Secretary

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