Andover Kansas tornado: Dozens of buildings leveled after a powerful tornado rips through the Wichita area

The twister landed in Sedgewick County, Kansas before traveling to Andover, Butler County, the city’s fire chief Chad Russell said during a news conference. More than 950 buildings were in the way of the tornado, he said.

“We caused a lot of buildings in Andover to take very hard damage,” Russell said, adding that some homes were “completely blown together.”

The recovery will take years, Russell said. “Unfortunately, we’ve been through this before,” he added, alluding to the devastation caused by an F-5 tornado that struck Andover on April 26, 1991. Seventeen people died in the wake of that tornado.

Andover, a town of about 15,000 people, is located about 14 miles east of Wichita, Kansas.

Some of the damage caused by the tornado in Andover, Kansas.

Resident Alaina Adkins told CNN she was seeking shelter in her neighbor’s basement across the street from her apartment complex as the tornado swept past.

“I just could not believe it. It just did not look right,” the 26-year-old said. “We stepped out of our front door and it came right to our place,” she said.

The tornado missed her home by a block, but the power in her neighborhood was cut off, Adkins added.

More than 20,000 homes and businesses in Kansas were without power immediately after. By 4 am ET, that number had dropped to about 8,500, according to poweroutage.us.

Videos and photos showed tidy homes, overturned cars and storm debris decaying streets and front gardens.

In an early estimate, Jim Jonas, Wichita’s communications director, said between 50 and 100 structures were damaged by the tornado.

One of those buildings was a YMCA community center in Andover, which suffered significant damage, said City Administrator Jennifer McCausland.

14 tornadoes reported in Kansas or Nebraska

The Wichita National Weather Service said it would send teams out Saturday to conduct damage investigations. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by the tornadoes tonight,” it said.

Several tornadoes struck Friday in Kansas, according to Gov. Laura Kelly, who declared a state of emergency.

“We’ve learned from past experience that we can’t wait for the storm to hit until we respond,” Kelly said. “By taking these steps early, we are able to respond more quickly when counties ask for help.”

Over 40 million people are under serious storm threat this weekend

A total of 15 tornadoes – 14 of which were across Kansas or Nebraska – were reported Friday, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center. The second tornado was in Florida, the center said.

In addition, there have been more than 70 reports of wind damage and over 50 reports of hail.

In Enterprise, Kansas, there was hail up to four inches in diameter.

On Saturday, the storm is expected to move east, where more than 40 million people are under the overall threat of violent storms.

A level 2 out of 5 risk of severe storms has been issued and includes Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis and Little Rock.

“Severe thunderstorms associated with a threat of wind damage and heavy hail are possible on Saturday from the lower Mississippi Valley north into the western Great Lakes,” the Storm Prediction Center said, “A few tornadoes may also occur.”

CNN’s Paradise Afshar, Andy Rose, Taylor Ward, Allison Chinchar and Sharif Paget contributed to this report.

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