Category Archives: Disasters

President declares disaster area for 34 Kansas counties

President Obama today declared a major disaster exists in the state of Kansas and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in a 34-county area struck by severe storms, flooding, and tornadoes during the period between June 7 and July 21.

The counties included in the declaration are Atchison, Brown, Butler, Chase, Clay, Cloud, Comanche, Doniphan, Ellis, Franklin, Greenwood, Harvey, Jewell, Kiowa, Lyon, Marion, Marshall, Miami, Mitchell, Morris, Norton, Osage, Osborne, Pawnee, Phillips, Pottawatomie, Republic, Riley, Rooks, Rush, Smith, Wabaunsee, Washington, and Woodson.

Federal funding is now available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storms, flooding, and tornadoes.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Fall back……and gear up for storms

Daylight Savings Time ends early Sunday morning, so don’t forget to set your clocks back an hour.

While you’re at it, change the batteries in your smoke detectors and weather radios. It’s also a good time to create or refine your emergency plan, as well as check emergency kits.

Among the items you should include in an emergency kit are:

One gallon of water per person, per day
Canned goods
Canned juices, milk and soup
High-energy foods such as peanut butter, jelly, granola bars, trail mix, and crackers
Comfort foods such as cookies, hard candy, cereal, instant coffee and tea bags
Clothing and Bedding
Sturdy shoes or work boots
Rain gear
Blankets and sleeping bags
A hat and gloves

Tools and Supplies
A battery-operated television or radio
Extra batteries
Flashlight and batteries
Cash or traveler’s checks and change
Manual can opener
Utility knife
Matches in a waterproof container
Paper or plastic eating utensils
Soap and other personal hygiene items

First Aid Kit
Sterile adhesive bandages
Sterile gauze pads
Adhesive tape
Scissors, tweezers, needles and safety pins
Antiseptic spray

For a complete list of items to include in your kit, visit Sedgwick County Emergency Management at

The weather matters even after storms – or tragedies – end

Scott Curl, a meteorologist with the Norman office of the National Weather Service, had a compelling — and achingly accurate — comment about weather’s impact on our lives during a presentation at the National Press Foundation’s “Understanding Violent Weather” conference this week.

Severe weather typically makes the news when a tornado or flood strikes a community, he said. But weather also plays a significant role in rescue or clean-up efforts.

Firefighters trying to bring a grass fire under control in 2001 in western Oklahoma had to abandon their positions because a wind shift turned the fire their direction, he said.

A strong thunderstorm rolled through Oklahoma City even as rescuers were combing through the rubble of the Murrah federal building in 1995, he said, forcing teams to evacuate the building and bring the rescue attempts to a halt.

As he spoke, I remembered how Greensburg was still picking up the pieces in 2007 when more strong storms rolled through the area – sending residents and officials alike scurrying for shelter.

Disasters in Kenya offer perspective on being prepared for emergencies

Kansans spend a lot of time planning and preparing for emergencies, which seems wise given the state’s location in Tornado Alley and its penchant for severe weather of all types.

But a story from Reuters about a couple of disasters in Kenya reminded me of the price that can be paid when preparations are poor or non-existent. It can be tough to prepare for something that hasn’t happened yet, but as that story shows, the potential price for not doing it can be prohibitive.