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Kansas town assesses tornado damage

Damage to property is extensive in this Hoisington, Kansas neighborhood Sunday

HOISINGTON, Kansas (CNN) - The morning after a tornado tore the heart from this Kansas town, killing one man and injuring at least 26 other people, officials worked Sunday to see whether anyone was trapped in the rubble and to assess the damage.

At daybreak, three teams of rescue workers began to pick through the devastated area looking for survivors. Each team was made up of ambulance personnel, search dogs, heavy equipment operators, the Kansas Highway Patrol, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, fire and local law enforcement officials.

"Who knows what's out there," said City Manager Allen Dinkel.

The town has been declared a disaster area, and Federal Emergency Management Agency workers were offering help, he said.

Aerial views of the damage

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Amateur video from the center of town as the high winds hit (April 22, 2001)

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Residents of the rural community in central Kansas had no warning before the twister struck the town of 3,100 residents at 9:15 p.m. (10:15 p.m. EDT) Saturday, he said. The tornado "just poured out of the sky."

The town is 1.25 miles long from west to east, Dinkel said. "Basically, it just came right through the center," cutting a path 1,000 to 1,500 feet wide along Hoisington's length.

He estimated 20 percent to 25 percent of the town's houses -- about 400 homes -- were damaged or destroyed. The tornado skirted the northern part of the business section, too, damaging 10 businesses, he said.

Part of Clara Barton Hospital's roof was torn off and an operating room "is missing," Dinkel said.

Patients were taken to a nursing home or to Central Kansas Medical Center in Great Bend.

Hoisington High School's gymnasium roof also collapsed; no one was in the school at the time.

The city has quarantined severely damaged buildings. A Red Cross shelter has been set up for displaced people.

The tornado overturned a car in Hoisington, Kansas  

Power was knocked out to most of the town, though water and telephone service had largely been restored by daybreak.

Dinkel said he and his family were an hour from Hoisington at his nephew's wedding reception when they heard the news. They rushed home to find their attached garage no longer attached.

"It just makes you want to cry. It's devastating," said Dinkel.

The town's largest employer, Superior Essex, makes telephone wire. It, too, was damaged and workers were told to stay home Sunday.

A community prayer service was scheduled for 12:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m. EDT) Sunday at the City Building.

Two killed as tornadoes spread across Midwest
April 11, 2001

The National Weather Service
American Red Cross
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Kansas Highway Patrol
Kansas Bureau of Investigation

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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