"Everything was absolutely crushed here," said Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel, reporting from Linwood Wednesday morning.
Up to 30 homes and a business were destroyed or damaged, Leavenworth County Undersheriff Jim Sherley said, adding that first responders had gone door to door searching homes that dot the rural area. Trees and power lines were downed, while vehicles including big rigs were tossed like toys.
Kansas Tornadoes Prompt Emergency, Flatten Homes and Injure at Least a Dozen People
Sherley told weather.com there were several injuries, both from the tornado and the cleanup, but he was not aware of any that were life-threatening.
"The sirens started going off at about 6:25 p.m. and we've been dealing with it ever since," Sherley said in a phone interview five hours after the tornado hit.
1 dead, 130 injured as twisters rip through Ohio and Indiana
"We have downed power lines, multiple downed trees," he said. "It left a swath of damage across there."
Resident Mark Duffin, 48, told the Kansas City Star he learned from his wife that a tornado was headed toward their home. As the walls of his home began to come down, he grabbed his 13-year-old child and headed to the basement with a mattress to protect them.
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"I'm just glad I found my two dogs alive," he told the newspaper as he later surveyed the damage to his home. "Wife's alive, family's alive, I'm alive. So, that's it."
A large tornado — possibly the same one that affected the Linwood area — was reported at the western edge of Kansas City, home to 2.1 million people, near the Kansas Speedway and the popular Legends shopping and dining area.
As the tornado-warned storm continued to the northeast, Kansas City International Airport was evacuated and passengers were moved into the parking tunnels for their safety. The airport remained closed to flights until around midnight, as staff worked to clear large amounts of debris that fell onto airport runways.
In a tweet late Tuesday, the airport said that crews were working "feverishly" to clear the runways and airfield of "thousands of pieces" of debris over millions of square feet. "One piece in an engine can be catastrophic. Safety first," said the tweet.
At least a dozen people were admitted to the hospital in Lawrence, 40 miles west of downtown Kansas City, Missouri, the Associated Press reported.
An apparent tornado from the same storm produced tree and roof damage in the Excelsior Springs area northeast of Kansas City, according to reports from Clay County law enforcement officers.
There were several tornado warnings and reports of tornadoes in the Lawrence area. Damage was reported to several buildings in Pleasant Grove and other areas south of Lawrence in Douglas County.
Tornado warnings Tuesday night were issued as far east as New York City in what has become the most active stretch for tornadoes in the U.S. in eight years.
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