Just over a week ago, on Wednesday, June 11th, around 11:00 pm, an estimated EF-3 or 4 tornado hit Manhattan, KS. It first hit the residential areas of Miller Ranch and the Amherst neighborhood, damaging or destroying around 45 homes. The images that we’ve seen in the news coverage are pretty intense. Many of the homes were leveled to the ground. The tornado then hit a small business area, damaging many businesses. Little Apple Toyota was particularly hard hit, and the True Value Hardware store, which I think was only about a year old, was completely destroyed. The tornado may have lifted for a bit, then came back down as the storm neared Kansas State University, where I teach. It damaged a number of buildings, including the one housing K-State’s nuclear reactor (What?! We have a nuclear reactor on campus?) and one of the buildings I teach in, along with a fraternity house just off campus. A temporary building, the Wind Erosion Lab, was a total loss, an irony that has been lost on no one (UPDATE: a commenter below has some corrective information below about the Wind Erosion Lab that you would probably find useful).
Last week, we went out to Salina, passing Chapman, KS along the way. Chapman was fairly severely hit by the same tornado; some estimates I’ve read put the damage in the town at 80% damaged or destroyed. One person was even killed there, along with one other person who was killed to the northeast of us in another small town, Soldier, KS. Other than that, from what I understand, the number of other injuries was rather low.
As we got back to Manhattan to pick up my car, we decided to drive by and see as much of the damaged areas as we could. I didn’t have my camera with me, but Michelle had hers, and took a few pictures as we drove around. It was an incredible, humbling sight.
This is Little Apple Toyota. Despite appearances, it was actually a thriving dealership before the storm. No, there are not any windows left in the building.
This is all that’s left of the True Value Hardware store. You can kind of tell from the trees which way the tornado went after destroying the building. Just follow the leafless trees.
We went on campus after that and took a look at a couple of the damaged buildings, whatever we could see from the car.
Yesterday, we were finally able to go back to our class that was in a damaged building. Some of the building is still blocked off, so my students have to walk all the way around it to find the one door that allows them access to our classroom. As I walked up to the building, uncertain of what it would look like inside (just the same, as it turned out, except for the three guys sweeping up a lot of dust in the entryway), my attention was drawn to the exterior of the building. There was an incredible amount of junk absolutely glued to the windows outside: insulation, leaves, bits of paper, a pamphlet of some kind…it was amazing. All of that done with just wind and water.
It was a wild time, to say the least. Everyone around here is still talking about it. Like a massive group therapy session.
I wonder who picks up the bill for that one?
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