The roads leading to Pinaire Mobile Home park in Southeast Wichita are now open and the clean-up and salvage effort is underway following Saturday night’s EF-3 tornado.
Yvonne Tucker’s mobile home was scooped up by the powerful 165 mph winds and tossed about 50 yards. Tucker is only alive because she heeded the warnings and left her trailer before the storm hit. She was among the 50 Pinaire Mobile Park residents who took refuge in the storm shelter.
“It saved my life,” she said. “I think if all mobile home parks don’t have a tornado shelter, they should.”
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Tucker returned to the park Monday morning and began the daunting task of searching through piles of debris for valuables.
The initial damage estimate for the Oaklawn tornado was $280 million. The figure is expected to be scaled back considerably as officials get a clearer picture over the next few days.
Sedgwick County Emergency Management Director Randy Duncan said specific criteria must be met for victims to qualify for state or federal aid. Most victims will need to rely on homeowners insurance or assistance from agencies like the American Red Cross.
“The pictures do it no justice,” said Debbie Holliday, as she searched through the debris field for pieces of her prized NASCAR memorabilia collection. Her mobile home was destroyed, along with her mother’s, brother’s, sister’s, and niece’s.
Holliday tried to keep a sense of humor as she jokingly apologized to a neighbor for all her “junk” being in his yard. Still, she understands it will be a long road.
“Everybody’s been uprooted. We have to have the strength to rebuild,” said Holliday.
Duncan said the silver lining to Saturday’s barrage of 97 twisters is that no one died in Kansas. Duncan credited news agencies and area meteorologists for quickly spreading the word. He said new stronger language techniques employed by The National Weather Service helped people understand the seriousness of the event.