By Andy Graham
At the Overland Park Council meeting earlier this week, Kyle Burns, the city’s emergency management coordinator provided an after-action report about efforts to recover from the July 22 storm that ravaged north Overland Park. The storm included a heavy barrage of rain, thunder and lightning, but most of the area’s serious damage resulted from gusts of wind exceeding 80 MPH. The event was not classified as a tornado or microburst.
“The city’s response to the wind event on July 22 was phenomenal, Burns said. “Crews from public works and the parks department cleared and removed more that 15,000-cubic-yards of debris within seven days.”
The damage area in Overland Park consisted of 34-square-miles north of 435, of which 19 were the hardest hit. Early estimates place damage costs to the city at nearly $600,000.
The Overland Park City Manager’s Office oversaw recovery efforts, which included sending crews around town to collect piles of debris. A number of streets were completely obstructed and unpassable because of fallen trees. Both public works and the parks department accrued overtime; crews worked 12-hour shifts for six straight days to clear streets and remove debris. As of Monday, Burns reported that all of the debris has been removed from the city’s right-of-way, but crews are still trimming leaning and hanging tree limbs.
City staff was also inundated by resident requests and inquiries, which were handled by switchboard personnel. Residents were also informed about cleanup efforts and the dropoff site location through extensive social media messaging and stories on the city’s website.
As part of its Community Emergency Response Team (CERT program), 25 resident volunteers also pitched in to manage a storm debris drop-off center in the Young’s Pool parking lot at 77th and Antioch in the days following the storm. Burns estimated that CERT volunteers put in approximately 290 volunteer hours to support the effort.
The CERT program is designed to train the public in how they can help during an emergency in their neighborhood or workplace.
Johnson County Government declared a state of emergency for the area hit hardest by the storm, but damage costs and debris collections for this storm event were lower than some previous events.
“This storm was very minor compared to the Ice Storm of 2002,” Burns said. “The storm in 2002 generated more than 300,000-cubic-yards of debris; this storm generated just over 20,000-cubic-yards. We’re still working on some things, but we’re getting back to normal.”