Residents in Douglas and Leavenworth counties still rebuilding a year after tornado


EUDORA, Kan. (WDAF) — Stormy weather gives some people an ill feeling. 

That’s certainly true for people living in Douglas and Leavenworth counties, who are still reeling from a May 28, 2019 tornado, a year after it wrecked their small Kansas towns.

The big funnel cloud was a mile wide force of nature. That early spring evening saw that EF-4 tornado rip through Leavenworth and Douglas counties, leaving a trail of destruction that measured almost 32 miles long.

The National Weather Service said 18 people were injured, but somehow, there were no deaths reported.

Karen Pendleton and her family saw what 170 mph winds can do.

The tornado trashed her family home and Pendleton’s Country Market, the Eudora business she and her husband, John, started in the early 1980s. The Pendletons nearby home still isn’t rebuilt.

Karen said it took on $300,000 in damages, some of which weren’t covered by insurance. She added they’re still clearing debris brought on by the tornado.

“The farm was destroyed. That’s basically the way to say it. There wasn’t a whole lot left,” Pendleton said. “You can be ready, but when a tornado hits you head-on, it likes to do what it wants to do, and that’s pretty much tear everything up.”

Further to the west, homes near Lawrence took a beating.

Eric Stofer said he and his loved ones took cover from the tornado, having heard sirens 30 minutes before the twister blew through. Stofer’s home was gutted by the storm.

Efficient contractors rebuilt the house by February, and this time, it includes a storm shelter in the garage.

“It was a nightmare and a lot of work. I told people the process of dealing with a loss like this and going through insurance is like having a full-time job,” Stofer told WDAF-TV.

People in those counties said it’s been a tough year, but they’ve leaned on local leaders and supportive neighbors to help them rebuild and carry on from that destructive day. 

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