- Associated Press - Friday, May 27, 2016

CHAPMAN, Kan. (AP) - Residents in northern Kansas have been cleaning up the damage from an EF4 tornado that ripped through the rural area this week.

Tom and Janet Whitehair’s Dickinson County home was among about 20 homes damaged or destroyed by the half-mile-wide tornado that was on the ground for about 90 minutes Wednesday night. No serious injuries or fatalities were reported.

“We’re damn lucky to be alive,” Tom Whitehair told The Topeka-Capital Journal (http://j.mp/1WpiZ65 ), as more than 30 family members, friends and volunteers cleared debris from the homestead.

The National Weather Service said the tornado had wind speeds of up to 180 mph. Most of the damage was in Dickinson County, but two homes were also damaged in Ottawa County, where the twister began.

Dickinson County administrator Brad Homman said some residents had minor injuries, and ranchers reported missing livestock, horses and pets. He also said scores of home lost power but it was unclear how much had been restored.

“I mean, some of those homes out there are just obliterated or gone and to have that kind of sustained damage, you’d have to have 100 mph winds,” he said.

The tornado also blew the roof off the home of Virgil Toombs, who wasn’t home when the tornado hit. Toombs, who served in Iraq, Bosnia and Kuwait, retired from the U.S. Army to raise livestock. He said he and his family were blessed to be alive.

“I still got a house standing. You got whole towns and villages, cities that are ravaged,” he said, recalling images of war. “At least there are no dead bodies.”

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Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com

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