Harveyville residents recall living through a tornado five years ago

HARVEYVILLE, Kan. (KSNT) – Karen Newman also has a vivid memory of when the storm hit.

“We’re just down there and one, two, three, it’s over,” recalls Judy Price.

“Headed into the kitchen and I heard what I thought was an electrical fire, it was debris hitting the house.”

“We didn’t know it was a tornado until it was over,” said Price.

Both Judy Price and Karen Newman lived through the Harveyville tornado back in 2012 and they along with many others in town remember it clearly today. the storm had tornado warnings on it farther west, but had shown all signs of weakening.

Chad Omitt from the National Weather Service explains why tornado warnings were not in place at the time the storm hit, “Those storms lost some of their characteristics and so we stopped issuing tornado warnings on that storm and then as it moved to the northeast rapidly towards Harveyville, it did just as it was moving into Harveyville, quickly spun up. it did produce a radar signature of a tornado as it was over the city.”

With no time to prepare and no time to take shelter residents were left stunned at what had just happened to their town and they all have stories of what happened that night.

“A 2″ x 4″ came down through the ceiling and drove into the floor,” recalls Earl Kopp.

Tami Cheuvront also lived through the storm. She the tornado “destroyed on the north side of the house, it took all of our fence out, took the screens off the front porch, they were flapping in the wind.”
“And it picked that truck up and dropped it on its nose and a sock went through the hood of that truck. and it was funny because it took the refrigerator, but left everything in the refrigerator in the yard,” remembers Newman.

“Where did the refrigerator end up?” Miller asks.

“I don’t know.”

But with the stories of what happened during the tornado also comes the stories of how the town came together to rebuild the section of town torn up by the storm.

Thinking of the help that arrived in Harveyville, Newman adds, “My gosh, the outpouring of support was amazing.”

Kopp also received help from volunteers. “He says I’ll have some people tomorrow morning at 9 o’clock. How many do you want? 4 or 5. No, he said, we’ll have 20 or better.”

“The volunteers just flooded. The best one was the guy from Reading. I had been out doing something and I came around the house and he turns around and it has ‘City of Reading’ on his shirt. He looked at me and I looked at him and we stood in the backyard and cried,” remembers Cheuvront.

“We’re more aware of storms,” says Newman.

“Yeah, I panic. I panic,” admits Price.

Since the storm, much has been done to prepare for the next storm. Newman adds, “People are nervous so we just built a storm shelter downtown.”

Of course, we cannot cover the Harveyville tornado without mentioning that town’s greatest loss, Richard Slade. Slade was killed when the tornado hit his home 5 years ago.

One of the big improvements in radar since 2012 is the frequency in which the radar scans the lowest levels of a storm–where tornado rotations are best found. It used to be once every five to six minutes, now it’s down to every minute and a half or so. Hopefully that will avoid having any more storms spin up a tornado between radar scans.


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