Thunderstorms moving through the Riley County area Monday night knocked out power to hundreds of residents and left behind a wake of damage for emergency personnel to clear. Downed power lines on U.S. Highway 24 required officials to close the roadway Tuesday.
As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, Westar Energy crews continued working to restore power to 575 customers in Riley County. At one point, as many as 745 customers were reportedly without power.
Westar senior communications representative Leonard Allen said the company had no estimate of when power would be restored to all customers in Riley County.
“We’ve got everybody we have out working right now,” he said, including all of the company’s area crews and 14 contracted crews.
Westar employees were working Tuesday across much of northeast Kansas. Allen said the storms hit hardest in Junction City, Manhattan, Leavenworth, Topeka and Atchison.
“We’ve got some pretty widespread outages,” he said.
In Riley County, emergency personnel continued to clean up damage to trees and power lines.
Riley County Emergency Management Director Pat Collins said the storms hit Riley particularly hard with reported wind speeds of 70 to 80 mph.
“Looks like the worst part starts just east of Riley and kind of went straight east across US-24 highway,” he said.
The Manhattan Regional Airport recorded a wind gust of 67 mph, but winds didn’t reach those speeds in the city.
“I think we had 50 mph winds here in Manhattan,” Collins said.
Those winds were still damaging, however.
The Manhattan Fire Department reported that, in addition to a house fire caused by lightning, firefighters responded to 25 calls of service.
Most of those calls were related to downed power lines.
About eight or nine power lines fell along a stretch of US-24, said Mat Droge, public information officer for the Riley County Police Department.
The highway remained closed Tuesday morning from the K-113 intersection to the US-77 junction at Madison Road east of Riley.
The Kansas Department of Transportation estimated the highway would be closed until Tuesday night.
“It looks like it’s going to be closed for quite some time,” Droge said. “Drivers should be able to use Anderson Avenue if they’re coming from Riley or going to Riley.”
Green-Randolph Road from Winkler Road to Tuttle Creek Boulevard and Kitten Creek Road south of US-24 were also closed Tuesday morning due to trees blocking the roadways.
North 52nd and North 60th streets were partially blocked by fallen trees, Collins said. Police reported power lines were knocked down on 52nd Street, too.
Collins said county personnel Tuesday morning were focusing on clearing Green-Randolph Road before other streets.