Cities assess ‘widespread’ storm damage — 8K in JoCo still without power

A severe storm swept through the Kansas City metro area on Friday, leaving thousands without power and uprooting trees across Johnson County — and cities are working to release plans for recovery. Above, a tree uprooted in Lenexa that ripped up a portion of sidewalk. Photo via city of Lenexa.

The lingering impacts of Friday’s severe thunderstorms were still being felt Monday, with lingering power outages affecting thousands of residents in suburbs clustered in northeast Johnson County.

The severe storm on July 14 uprooted trees, downed power lines and left thousands without power.

A meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Kansas City field office told the Post that the metro was hit by a “squall line,” a phenomenon when multiple thunderstorms combine, resulting in higher and more concentrated wind gusts that, in this case, averaged between 50 to 60 miles per hour.

In the aftermath of the storm, there were still about 12,000 Evergy customers without power on Monday, most of those in Johnson County.

At the same time, cities are working to communicate debris pickup plans for and beginning to consider longer-term storm recovery options.

Nearly 8,000 Johnson Countians still without power

  • The Evergy outage map on Monday morning showed 23% of Prairie Village customers remain without power, the highest concentration of remaining outages of any city in the service area.
  • Meanwhile, about 11% of Roeland Park customers, 10% of Mission Hills customers, nearly 9% of Fairway customers and 3% of customers in Leawood and Overland Park are without power.
  • According to Evergy’s website, as of 8 a.m. Monday, power had been restored to more than 94% of impacted customers on both sides of the state line.
  • Evergy expects remaining outages in the metro area “to be restored Monday into Tuesday,” according to the update.
  • “More than 3,000 Evergy employees, contractors and personnel from neighboring utilities are working to make repairs and restore power,” the update reads. “They will do so until all customers are restored.”

Cities are still gauging the storm’s impact

Johnson County cities and residents embark on July storm recovery efforts.
Justin Keyser cuts up a downed tree in a yard near 77th and Belinder in Prairie Village on Saturday morning. Photo credit Kyle Palmer

James Carney, Prairie Village’s field superintendent, told the Post via email that “the area bordered by 63rd Street, Nall Avenue, 75th Street and Mission Road seems to have the most damage.”

City Administrator Wes Jordan told the Post a majority of Prairie Village was impacted by Friday’s storm, but the city will have a better idea of the widespread impacts in a few days.

Friday’s storm “caused damage throughout the community and left one of the largest amounts of debris to be picked up in the past decade,” Lenexa’s Director of Communications Denise Rendina told the Post in an email.

Lenexa’s Old Town neighborhood was hit especially hard.

Shawnee’s Communications Director Doug Donahoo said in an email the city saw “widespread damage” with downed limbs from trees, primarily in areas of Shawnee “with more mature trees.”

“The City was directly in the path of the worst of the wind,” Donahoo said. “There are several homes and vehicles that were damaged by fallen trees and limbs.”

It is unclear how long recovery will take

The large wind and thunderstorm that swept through the KC area on Friday, July 14, left widespread debris and damages in its wake. Above, debris from a damaged tree block the sidewalk at Hauser Court and 87th Street Parkway.
The large wind and thunderstorm that swept through the KC area on Friday, July 14, left widespread debris and damages in its wake. Above, debris from a damaged tree block the sidewalk at Hauser Court and 87th Street Parkway. Photo credit Kaylie McLaughlin.

Lenexa began special debris pickup on Monday morning and expects that service to last through the end of next week. Lenexa residents can find the pickup map and timeline here.

Carney told the Post that Prairie Village’s city website is the best place to check for debris-related updates and information. The city announced over the weekend it is planning to offer special curbside debris pickups and will announce more details soon.

Shawnee will have debris dropoff at Johnson Drive and Renner Road through the end of the week but may extend the window if needed.

“We want residents to continue to be safe as they clean up. Be extremely careful when using tools like chainsaws to cut up debris. Be aware of overhead limbs,” Donahoo said. “With the weather remaining warm, continue to hydrate and take frequent breaks when you’re working outdoors.”

A large machine pushed storm debris into a large pile over the weekend at a special dropoff site opened by the city of Overland Park. Image via Overland Park.

Should Overland Park have curbside debris pickup?

Overland Park is focused on clearing streets for Evergy to repair power lines and removing street debris from right-of-ways, said Meg Ralph, the city’s communications and media relations manager.

The city is also hosting a special storm debris drop-off site on Hardy Street on Monday, as well as this coming Saturday and Sunday.

But those steps don’t go far enough for Councilmember Faris Farassati, who is pushing Mayor Curt Skoog to call an “emergency” council committee of the whole meeting to discuss storm response.

In an email thread Farassati shared with the Post, he told Skoog: “It’s not the right time to be quiet about demands of constituents to receive direct help with post storm clean up!”

In response, Skoog told Farassati that a policy discussion on future storm damage events is in the works.

“The policy question is when does private tree debris rise to a taxpayer responsibility,” Skoog wrote in his emailed response. “I believe that storm debris had been picked up curbside two times in OP history. Both were much larger events. It is important to note that City staff has been and will continue clearing City streets in neighborhoods and right of way.” 

Go deeper: Here’s how you can get rid of storm debris in Johnson County

Juliana Garcia and Kaylie McLaughlin reported for this story.