Dozens of people were at the YMCA in Andover, Kansas, when an EF3 tornado roared through Friday night.
Staffers told them to take shelter in the locker rooms, kneel down and protect their heads. Then they heard a noise like a freight train.
“It just shook the building. It almost felt like an earthquake a little bit … it was just the constant sound. It kind of had like a high-pitched whine, too,” Morgan Hamlin, who had been swimming in the pool, told weather.com in an interview Saturday afternoon. “It was only 30 seconds but it was 30 seconds in hell because you’re sitting there and you’re thinking, is this building going to fall down on top of me?”
The Y sustained heavy damage. Part of the roof was torn off, water was pouring from pipes, windows were smashed and cars — including Morgan’s — flung from the parking lot into the building.
But no one was hurt.
The twister touched down in eastern Sedgwick County southeast of Wichita, then moved northeast to near Andover, a community 10 miles east of Wichita, between 8:10 and 8:31 p.m. CT Friday. Video and photos posted to social media showed extensive damage to homes and other buildings.
The tornado was rated an EF3 tornado with winds of at least 136 mph in a survey on Saturday. Additional surveying may be done on Sunday.
Andover sits near the line between Butler and Sedgwick counties. Damage was reported in both counties.
It was estimated Saturday morning that at least 50 to 100 homes were damaged, a dispatcher for the Butler County Sheriff’s Office told weather.com. Later in the day, those estimates climbed to several hundred.
Andover Fire Chief Chad Russell said at a Saturday morning news briefing that no one was killed or seriously injured by the tornado there.
One person was trapped in a building but a rescue effort was underway.
Drone video shot Saturday morning showed homes with roofs and walls missing.
— Ben Redington (@benredington) April 30, 2022
Mandy Fouse, who lives near the YMCA, rushed her two children to a back room of their basement as the tornado raced across their neighborhood.
“By the time we sat down, the lights went out, and that’s when it started to sound like a vacuum over the house,” Fouse told the Wichita Eagle. “The windows started breaking, and we started hearing things hit the house.”
Windows were blown out and there’s a hole in the roof, Fouse said. Her father and father-in-law both made their way to her house and helped her and the kids out. They were surrounded by damage as they drove out of the neighborhood.
“We’re probably the lucky ones,” Fouse said. “Even with all our damage, we’re the lucky ones.”
Russell said in an earlier briefing that more than 900 homes were in the path of the tornado, The Associated Press reported.
He said some homes were “were completely blown away.”
Multiple cars were dragged on the ground and pushed up against the Andover YMCA where major damage has been reported. No injuries occurred in the tornado as employees and members took shelter, according to the Greater Wichita YMCA.