Bentley residents cleaning up after storm

Darren Woodson carries a tree branch to his pickup Thursday morning in the aftermath of a storm that hit Bentley the day before. Woodson was helping neighbors clean up before starting on his own yard.

By Jared Janzen

BENTLEY—Bentley residents have been dealing with the aftermath of a severe storm Wednesday evening that hit the city with straight-line winds and golf-ball sized hail.

Resident Doug Frazier spent several hours Thursday morning cleaning limbs up from his front yard on Devinshire Avenue.

“I’ve got most of it down now,” he said. “I’ve got a few more limbs to trim off that [tree] there.”

Two weeks ago, he’d cut down a large tree in his back yard, and he was thankful that was gone before the storm.

“Otherwise I probably would have had more damage,” he said.

Doug Fraizer cuts a branch down to size to add to the pile he was building in front of his house.

He hadn’t started cleaning the backyard up yet. No branches landed on his roof, but he thought it may have still been damaged by hail. This would be the third time since 2005 for the roof to be replaced because of hail damage, Frazier said.

“It could have been a lot worse,” he said.

He noted that some houses around him didn’t have much damage since he lives in a fairly new neighborhood with fewer mature trees. The house he lives in was the first one built as a model home, so it does have some 20-year-old trees.

Frazier said he was driving home from Wichita on 151st Street when the storm hit.

“We ran into hail and wind and almost couldn’t see to drive,” he said. “When I got back to town, I had to kind of weave my way around to get home with all the limbs down.”

He added a plastic swimming pool had blown into his yard, and he hadn’t figured out whom it belonged to yet.

Darren Woodson was hauling off branches from a neighbor’s yard Thursday morning. Woodson’s yard on Wichita Avenue had damage too.

This large branch was snapped off an elm tree at Darren Woodson’s house, landing on a string of lights.

“That big elm in front of my house, I lost two big branches out of the top, probably 10 inches across,” he said. “One’s still hanging. I haven’t even started on my place yet.”

He planned to cut down some of his old elm trees so he wouldn’t have to deal with so many fallen limbs during windstorms anymore.

“It doesn’t take much wind and I’m hauling a couple loads out,” he said.

After a storm earlier this year, Woodson took 24 pickup loads to the burn site.

“Some of it wasn’t storm damage as much as clearing out so I wouldn’t have as much storm damage,” he said. “It was about half and half. […] I’ve got 23 trees on my property, not counting the big grove on the south side between me and the park.”

This time around, limbs took out a strand of LED lights he had outside. An outdoor park bench also got broken by a six-inch wide branch, but he thought it was fixable.

“No damage to the house; I was happy about that,” Woodson added. “Of course, I haven’t gone up to look at the roof. That hail got pretty good for a minute. It was about golf-ball sized. It just didn’t last very long.”

Similar to Frazier, Woodson said he’d replaced his roof three times in the past 10 years due to hail.

“I don’t think I had any damage that’s going to warrant a new roof [this time], but I’m going to have them come out and look, just in case.”

Woodson said he’d just returned home when the storm hit. As he and his wife were driving from Newton, he knew a bad storm was on its way.

“We got in the house, closed up the house, and about that time it started blowing, started raining,” he said.

He added they ended up pretty lucky.

“Overall, we didn’t suffer too much, damage-wise. It’s just a lot of work,” Woodson said.

Vicki Tucker took the day off work to clean up her yard on Edinborough Circle, using a reciprocal saw because she doesn’t like chainsaws.

“I had a tree that the root ball didn’t come up, but it snapped at the base, so I’ve been hauling it off,” Tucker said.

At the corner of Devinshire and Edwards, a trampoline was bent out of shape and a tree was blown over, roots and all.

Tucker noted that Mayor Tracy Pribbenow had spent the morning driving around in a pickup truck with a trailer, helping residents out.

“She picked up at least three loads of my branches,” Tucker said. “What mayor do you see doing that? I was very happy about that.”

She added she had another two or three loads yet to haul off since it had been a big tree.

“I only lost a tree in the front,” she said. “In the back there was furniture. My neighbor’s trampoline got trashed. It’s all twisted metal.”

Tucker said she hated to lose her tree, yet she was thankful it hadn’t landed on her house.

“The hail was about as big as a golf ball, but it was thin, like a flying saucer,” Tucker said. “I’m glad it wasn’t big and round, because then we really would have had some damage.”

Tucker was on her way to the burn site with a pickup load of branches, and she still had more to haul off.

“Rinse and repeat until it gets too hot to do anything,” she said.

Public works employee Dan Bliss was manning the burn site Thursday morning. He said he’d worked till midnight the night before, clearing limbs off roads, and then he’d been back at work at 6 a.m.

“It’s done a number to the trees around here in Bentley, that’s for sure,” Bliss said.

Traffic to the burn site was steady all morning, Bliss reported. He said they would stay open till dark on Thursday. The city will keep the burn site open on Friday and Saturday as well. Branches must be less than 6 inches in diameter.

The city will pick branches for residents if they don’t have their own means of doing so.

“If you can’t physically get it out here, if you don’t have a truck or trailer, then the city will pick it up,” Bliss said.

He added he was thankful for volunteers helping others out so he’d have less to do.

Bliss noted he’d heard of one structure damaged other than roofs, and that was to a shed.

Scott Griffith was making his sixth and final trip to the burn site in his pickup shortly before 11 a.m.

“We lost part of that big tree in our backyard that was overhanging, and the two trees that are on the north side of our fence, those are on our property, so we had to clean those up to,” he said.

Public works employee Dan Bliss uses a backhoe to consolidate the piles of tree limbs at the burn site that residents had been bringing out all morning.

Griffith said he’d been on his way home from Oklahoma City when the storm struck Bentley.

“We came through rain on the turnpike,” he said. “It was pretty bad.”

He noted his brother-in-law had come to chop branches up with a chainsaw, which helped a lot.

“This saved me a lot of money, though, because I was thinking about cutting off part of that tree that was dead anyway,” Griffith said. “We just ended up doing the manual labor.”

Police Chief James “Tim” Bryan said Wednesday night that damage had been confirmed to four homes and one large metal building thus far. He estimated at least a hundred trees sustained damage, with many limbs striking vehicles, fences, sheds and power lines. One street light was knocked down with entangled wires. Only two or three homes lost power, according to Bryan.

Bentley police, fire and public works were assisted with the initial emergency management and cleanup on Wednesday night by several other agencies, including Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, Sedgwick County Fire, Mount Hope Police and Maize Police.

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