May 29, 2023


Automotive to Us

Families describe riding out tornado inside YMCA

ANDOVER, Kan. (KSNW) – The Dr. Jim Farha Andover YMCA took a direct hit from the tornado Friday night. Several families were inside when the storm happened.

“Everybody was just storming the shelters,” said Sarah Williams. “It sounds like a freight train, explosions. Like, I don’t know if it was from cars hitting the building or what.”

Staff members rushed to get everyone to safety, and no one was seriously injured.

“She was horrified, but she said it – it felt pretty sturdy. And she said my daughter’s just screaming the whole time and is asking for me,” said Russel Green, whose family took shelter at YMCA.

As soon as the storm calmed, he rushed to the YMCA to see his wife and daughter.

“I started calling her name because she was heading out that way looking for the car it was gone. It’s right here, but yeah, it came about a good 50 yards or something, but she couldn’t find it, and I just yelled her name went to hug them, picked up my girl,” Green said.

At least a dozen cars were damaged. Some were tossed and thrown into the front of the gym.

“Walking out and it’s night and day, and now everything’s just destroyed. Cars destroyed, no insurance, so that’s gonna be fun,” Williams said.

A common thought, material things can be replaced.

“Don’t care to be down two cars now because we’ve got a flat getting over here, overall the debris but just glad they’re okay. That’s all that matters,” Green said.

“Thankful, very thankful. Like, I said to the staff just thankful to be here,” Williams added.

The YMCA put out this update statement on Saturday following the storm:

We appreciate the outpouring of concern and support for the Andover YMCA branch and staff members. Our priority right now is the community of Andover, our members and our staff who have had damage or lost homes in the storm. The Andover YMCA is part of the Greater Wichita YMCA family which means our staff and members will be able to transition to our other 10 branches that are available to them.

We are extremely proud of our employees at the Andover Y, who saved lives by reacting quickly in this crisis situation last evening. Employees who were both on and off duty, had only minutes to react and get everyone to safety before the tornado hit the building. Our leadership team is currently assessing the damage and will provide more updates as that becomes available. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the community of Andover as we rebuild from this disaster.”

Greater Wichita YMCA