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Storm results in damage citywide

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a developing story and will be updated as more details become available. 


UPDATE 9:30 a.m. Tuesday

After powerful winds ripped through Derby early Sunday morning, the National Weather Service of Wichita issued a report saying the damage was caused by straight-line wind, not a tornado.

According to the NWS, a survey team found 75 to 90 mph straight-line wind damage across southern and southeastern Sedgwick County, with most of the tree damage along a 10-mile path from northwest of Peck to Derby.

That estimate came after earlier numbers were deemed too high.

A 111-mph wind gust with sustained winds up to 76 mph was originally observed at 5:09 a.m. on the northwest side of town by a Weather Underground station, the NWS reports.

“When you see winds exceed 100 or 110 mph, you see quite a bit more structural damage,” National Weather Service forecaster Mick McGuire said. “They just didn’t see a lot of that and the damage witnessed during the survey was big, healthy trees down [and power lines].”

McGuire said despite the changes to initial wind speed and gusts, there was no questioning the atmosphere that fueled Kansas skies on Sunday morning.

The NWS forecaster said

night skies can “cap” thunderstorms and how strong they can be. However, the opposite was true over the weekend.

“Often when the sun goes down, we lose that heating and it allows the air mass near the ground to stabilize,” McGuire said. “In this case, we had a slow-moving storm system coming over the Rockies and something like that can remain present even into the overnight hours.”

McGuire even suggested the storms, which were rich in instability and moisture, strengthened as they arrived in central Kansas.

“We saw it develop in western Kansas and as it was approaching in the overnight hours, it remained in place with periodic bouts of damaging winds and large hail,” he said. “As it approached the area … we saw pockets of damaging and even extreme winds in some areas.”

Kaley Bohlen, a communications specialist with Westar, said the company saw the most damage on the south side of Derby.

At the height of the storm, Bohlen said Westar saw 14,000 outages sustained across its territory, with a “very large portion of those customers being in the south Wichita/Derby area.”

Bill Pater, deputy chief of Derby Fire and Rescue, said most of the department’s calls Sunday morning were related to power.

“Most of the calls we went on were power lines down, entries arcing, trees that were down on houses that people were wanting to check,” he said.

Pater said the fire department responded to a report of a structure fire in the 600 block of South Riverview that turned out to be fire from a tree on a power line.

“The main power line coming into the house

was arcing through the trees, and the neighbor from across the street looking over thought the house was actually on fire,” he said. “We were able to clear that and determine there wasn’t

a structure involved

there pretty quick.”

Pater said some large power poles fell just north of Wendy’s on Rock Road, where Mulvane units provided assistance. Derby Fire and Rescue was also assisted by fire units from Sedgwick County, Haysville, Rose Hill, and even Park City.

Some power lines were tangled in trees in the road at Chet Smith Avenue and Woodlawn Boulevard.

The department only responded to one medical-related call throughout the storm, Pater said.

Quik Lube on Rock Road lost part of its roof in the storm. The owner said they will be open soon and do not anticipate any delays.

Fire crews spent most of the day Sunday assisting the city’s public works department in repair and clean-up around Derby.

The city’s chip site at High Park opened Sunday morning to allow residents to dispose of debris from branches and trees. In a Facebook post, city officials estimated the site saw about 3,000 vehicle loads.


UPDATE 4:31 p.m. Sunday 

A preliminary damage report by the National Weather Service of Wichita says damage from Sunday's storm was caused by straight-line wind, not a tornado.

According to a tweet from NWS Wichita, a survey team found 75 to 90 mph straight-line wind damage across southern and southeastern Sedgwick County, with most of the tree damage along a 10-mile path from northwest of Peck to Derby. 

In another tweet, NWS Wichita said it believes the initial reports of a 111-mph wind gust were too high, as such high-speed winds would have caused "more extensive structural damage." 

As of 4:45 p.m., Westar Energy reports 46 outages in Derby, with about 1,150 customers affected. In Wichita, Westar reports 107 outages, affecting about 400 customers. 


ORIGINAL STORY

After powerful winds ripped through Derby early Sunday morning, the National Weather Service of Wichita will conduct a survey to determine if the damage was caused by a tornado or extreme straight-line winds. 

A 111-mph wind gust with sustained winds up to 76 mph was observed at 5:09 a.m. on the northwest side of town by a Weather Underground station, the NWS reports.

As of 1 p.m., Westar Energy reports 42 outages in Derby, with about 1,200 customers affected. In Wichita, Westar reports 118 outages, affecting about 850 customers. 

Kaley Bohlen, a communications specialist with Westar, said the company has seen the most damage on the south side of Derby. The energy provider is not providing an estimated restoration time as it is still in "storm mode." 

Bill Pater, deputy chief of Derby Fire and Rescue, said most of the department's calls Sunday morning were related to power. 

"Most of the calls we went on were power lines down, entries arching, trees that were down on houses that people were wanting to check," he said. 

Pater said the fire department responded to a report of a structure fire in the 600 block of South Riverview that turned out to be fire from a tree on a power line. 

"The main power line coming into the house was arching through the trees, and the neighbor from across the street looking over thought the house was actually on fire," he said. "We were able to clear that and determine there wasn't a structure involved there pretty quick." 

Pater said some large power poles fell just north of Wendy's on Rock Road, where Mulvane units provided assistance. Derby Fire and Rescue was also assisted by fire units from Sedgwick County, Haysville, Rose Hill, and even Park City. 

Some power lines were tangled in trees in the road at Chet Smith Avenue and Woodlawn Boulevard. 

The department only responded to one medical-related call throughout the storm Sunday morning, Pater said.

Quik Lube on Rock Road lost part of its roof in the storm. The owner said they will be open soon and do not anticipate any delays.

JEFF COTT/INFORMER  

Derby's Quik Lube on Rock Road lost part of its roof during Sunday's storms. The owner says they do not expect any delays in business. 

Fire crews are now assisting the city's public works department in clean-up and repair around Derby. Pater said between six and eight firefighters responded to an early-morning call for staffing.

"Fortunately we are able to staff units that we typically don't have staffing for," he said. 

The weather service forecast for Derby says there is a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly after 3 p.m. The storms could produce heavy rain. Derby is under a flash flood watch until 1 a.m. Monday.  

The city's chip site at High Park opened at 8:30 a.m. Sunday to allow residents to dispose of debris from branches and trees. It will remain open until 5 p.m. 

Photos and videos of damage or storms can be submitted to the Informer at https://www.derbyinformer.com/site/forms/online_services/submit_photo/


News
Debris cleanup: Derby’s response and what citizens can do

As Sunday morning’s storms hit at approximately 5:05 a.m., Derby’s public works staff assembled for what became a 12-plus hour day.

Public works director Robert Mendoza said half of the department’s staff were sent to assess city streets by 5:30 a.m., allowing emergency services and citizens to move through and see property damage, service 911 calls, and begin cleanup.

Mendoza said streets were clear and accessible by 11:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. They then sent all active staff to assist with the High Park chip site.

“One of the things that works well in Derby is our public works, police and fire department work very close together,” he said. “We are in constant communication and even as emergency calls start coming in from 4:00 a.m. with initial winds and concerns, we were already communicating.”

A gazebo in Zollinger Park was hit by a falling tree, while a picnic structure in English Park received minor roof damage. Mendoza said parks will be secondary in cleanup, making sure that all streets are taken care of first.

The city also announced that Hand and Crane Park are closed temporarily due to storm damage.

The chip site opened at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday and Mendoza said it serviced approximately 3,000 loads by the time it closed at 5:00 p.m. As of 5:00 p.m. on Monday, the chip site had served an additional 1,426 loads.

Regular hours are set for the chip site, however, they are now letting anyone from Sedgwick County use the drop off until the end of Saturday’s opening at 12:00 p.m.

“Thank you to Sedgwick County Public Works for providing its grinder equipment and staff to help the city with storm recovery efforts,” Derby city manager Kathy Sexton said in a city news release.

Mendoza said they’d make public announcements for any additional changes.

Mendoza said that no public works staff will remove debris from homes and they are only monitoring public roads, parks and facilities.

“We understand there is a lot out there and it’s not something we’re used to doing, but the city personnel is there to maintain access for emergency services and access to properties on streets only,” he added.

Waste Connections offers services for curbside pickup, allowing members of the community to utilize that service instead of waiting in line at the chip site. Citizens need to contact the company directly for instructions on special pickup. They also have a transfer station available at 4300 W. 37th Street in Wichita. 

For anyone who doesn’t have the means to remove debris and get it to the chip site or a waste removal site, Mendoza said they can call 211 for the United Way or contact a local church or volunteer group to see if they can assist.

Mendoza also offered thanks for eight citizens who offered their services at the chip site.

“They came to our site and started helping direct cars, unload cars and participate with our staff,” he said. “We just adopted them, put them in vests and away we went.”