arious spots throughout Platte County were hit by tornadoes Sunday afternoon, with damage ranging from roofs blown off and barns toppled at Tracy to total devastation of a number of homes and businesses in the Riverside, Northmoor and Parkville areas. The tornadoes caused county commissioners to issue a state of emergency during a commission meeting Monday morning.
Preliminary damage assessments counted 87 homes, 24 apartments, and 12 businesses as damaged or destroyed in Platte County. Officials were still updating damage assessments on Tuesday afternoon. There were no fatalities in the county.
According to Platte County Sheriff’s Department reports, the first of several tornadoes throughout Platte County touched down at 4:04 p.m. near Beverly. At 4:08 p.m. Sunday, a tornado descended at Hwy. 92 near the Platte River. At 4:11 p.m., another tornado touched down in Tracy, removing the roof to a storage barn at the Platte County Public Works facility.
At 4:47 p.m., a tornado descended west of Riverside and moved to Northmoor.
It is estimated about 60 residences and businesses in unincorporated Platte County were damaged.
Gov. Bob Holden, who was already in Kansas City on Sunday, visited the small Platte County community of Northmoor. A neighborhood in the town of 400 people had been decimated.
After viewing that area and others, Holden announced he would seek federal emergency funding to assist in clean-up efforts.
“My office will be working with local elected officials, law enforcement and emergency preparedness organizations to ensure that these people receive assistance,” Holden said.
Platte County Commissioners also viewed areas of destruction Sunday.
“It was quite an eye-opening experience to tour the county and see what was done,” First District Commissioner Michael Short said Monday.
“This is a desperate time for our county and many of its residents,” Presiding Commissioner Betty Knight, said. “The unbelievable destruction that was done to property throughout the county is not comparable to the amount of damage this has done to these people’s lives. We are calling on all citizens to comply with the necessary emergency measures and with local law enforcement and emergency management agencies.”
According to Platte City Police Chief Joe McHale, there was no damage reported in Platte City.
McHale said at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Sunday he called in additional staff members. A communications center was then established, McHale said.
Officers were dispatched to follow storm activity when the city’s storm sirens were activated at approximately 4:10 p.m. McHale added that one officer was assigned to take photographs of any storm damage in Platte City. However, McHale said, there was no damage in Platte City.
McHale also said that Platte City has offered help to area communities who were hit hard by Sunday’s storms. McHale said no communities had taken the city up on the offer.
On Sunday following the storm, roads were closed going into the damaged areas near Parkville. Severe damage was done to an industrial park south of Parkville and at least one Northmoor subdivision.
Portions of Riverside were hit by the same tornado that affected Parkville and Northmoor. At least one business in Riverside was completely destroyed (see related pictures).
Passengers at Kansas City International Airport were evacuated during Sunday’s storms and taken into tunnels leading to parking garages.
At Park Hill South High School approximately 200 people attending an art show took shelter as the storm crossed the area of Hwy. 9 near Riverside and Parkville.
Power lines were reported down in various parts of the county. Aquila reported at one time there as many as 200 customers without power in northern Platte County, but by 4:30 p.m. Monday almost all but “a scattered few locations” were back in service.
In addition to the Platte County areas previously mentioned, other areas hit hard by the tornadoes Sunday included Kansas City, Ks.; Gladstone and Liberty.
Sunday’s storms got the attention of many elected officials.
State Representative Sam Graves said he has contacted Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“I have contacted FEMA and they will perform a preliminary damage assessment once the Governor requests it. I will work with the Bush Administration and FEMA to bring needed federal disaster relief to the victims of this terrible storm,” Graves said. “We must come together as a community to help our neighbors who are in need of assistance. I will continue to do everything I can to provide the needed assistance and to help the victims of this storm get back on their feet.”
State Rep. Jason Brown said he and his family were at Barnes & Noble Bookstore on Barry Road when the severe weather hit the county.
“From the time it took for my family and I to arrive at home in Platte City from Barnes & Noble bookstore on Barry Road, where we were standing in a back room with about 150 other people as the tornados touched down, the emergency response had begun,” Brown said. “The 30th District office can help coordinate any help needed for folks in Platte County in dealing with these agencies, if necessary. I challenge everyone to extend a helping hand to those in need today and this week as the clean up and rebuilding process begins.”
Brown indicated in an e-mail that State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) officials had told him 50 homes in Platte County received minor to major damage, 25 townhouses received minor to major damage and approximately 15 businesses received minor to major damage with one totally destroyed.