Kansas State Public Health Connections
On Sunday, May 4, 2003, at 5:15pm a F4 strength tornado was headed northeast
aiming straight for Medical Investigator, Joe Cukjati's, farmstead.
When the tornado hit an old mining shale dump – it diverted to the east,
directly into the heart of downtown Franklin, Kansas. This tornado started
in southeastern Kansas and ambled on the ground for twenty-six minutes, destroying
400 homes and innumerable barns and sheds, continuing its path into Missouri.
Six lives were lost in Kansas as a result of the storm.
The Crawford County Sheriff's office was instrumental in saving many lives
by alerting citizens with their deputies. They also followed the tornado
and noted the damage, calling for an all out disaster team to be assembled
in and around Ringo and Franklin, Kansas. The Crawford County Emergency Planner
opened an incident command center in Franklin and directed security immediately
after the tornado with the help of the National Guard. Subsequent days had
the Crawford County Health Department with volunteers from adjoining counties
to command different medical posts to
treat minor wounds and to give first aid supplies and tetanus injections.
Over 400 tetanus injections were given by the Crawford County Health
Department in Franklin alone.
Over 300 volunteers showed up in Franklin to help with the clean
up process. Mostly everything was destroyed by the immense power of
the tornado. Whole large houses were reduced to fractured boards of one
foot or less in many instances. There were many amazing stories of
survival and rescue. One fatality occurred in Franklin.
This photo is a tent Crawford County Health Department set up next to the
Incident Command station.
Pictured: l to r - Debbie Baugher, Labette County Health Department Director,
Joe Cukjati, Medical Investigator, SE Kansas, and Janis Godecke, Crawford
County Health Department Director .