Thursday, July 12, 2018

KDOT crews assisted with Eureka tornado clean up

KDOT crews assist with picking up debris left behind from a tornado that moved through Eureka. 
An EF-3 tornado hit the town of Eureka on June 26 causing damage to the high school, houses, trees, power lines and the Kansas Department of Transportation Eureka Subarea office.

KDOT Area offices in El Dorado, Iola and Independence sent numerous employees, several dump trucks, message boards, loaders, barricades, a track hoe and a skid steer to assist in the clean-up efforts.

KDOT storage buildings sustained heavy damage from the tornado. A complete renovation to these buildings is scheduled for later this year. 

After helping the citizens of Eureka with clean-up efforts KDOT employees began cleaning and clearing their subarea maintenance office at Eureka. On a hot and muggy day in early July, several crew members could be seen sweeping away debris and relocating various objects that the twister’s high winds had flung far and wide on the grounds.

Equipment Operator Senior Roy Junkersfeld (right) and Equipment Operator Billy Jones (left) pick up debris left behind at the Eureka Subarea.
This year’s tornado was the second to strike Eureka in a two-year period. Eight people were injured. Seventy-eight residences either sustained significant damage or were completely destroyed. The tornado inflicted considerable damage on the subarea’s chemical storage and equipment storage buildings, wash bay, salt dome and office. Sultry daytime temperatures in the aftermath of the tornado, combined with long hours of community clean-up and little sleep, left the crew members “just exhausted,” said Subarea Supervisor Jeff Marks. Adding more hardship to conditions was a two-day power outage in the city.

State Transportation Engineer Catherine Patrick and Operations Director Larry Thompson visit Eureka to survey the tornado damage of the cold storage building. 
Yet thanks to dedicated KDOT staff, the bruised and battered subarea continues to carry out its work. On a brighter note, a complete renovation of the subarea is scheduled for later this year. Director of Operations Larry Thompson said that he was impressed with the clean up efforts.  

"Immediately after the tornado passed, the Eureka Subarea Supervisor Jeff Marks, walked into the shop area – because he could not drive due to downed power lines and trees – and started securing the site," Thompson said.  "This included shutting off the gas supply which was leaking due to a broken pipe and dealing with an oil spill to keep it out of the local waterway. Then as the crew trickled in, the Citywide clean up efforts began. When we were there on Friday, the Eureka crew and equipment from District 4 shops and District 5 were actively clearing the streets and hauling debris. Just like that was normal business and it certainly was not normal."

KDOT crew members clean up after a tornado damaged the Eureka Subarea. 
After the tornado struck, KDOT closed a 21-mile section of U.S. 54 for several hours. With power lines down, KDOT employees couldn’t access the Eureka shop until June 28, Iola Superintendent Derrick Shannon said. 

1 comment:

  1. Brings back memories of Greensburg, even had the same highway closed. Great to hear of the teamwork and "Can do!" spirit displayed by folks whose community was impacted, and the surrounding crews that responded. Makes you proud to be a member of the KDOT team!