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Q&A: Douglas County tornado recovery information

Wednesday, July 24, 2019 - 1:00pm

Douglas County Emergency Management staff has compiled the following Q&A information to help those who are recovering from the May 28 tornado, and for those who want to provide assistance.

Q: How can I get assistance?

A: If you were impacted by the tornado and need any type of assistance (debris removal, financial, emotional) or have questions, please call 2-1-1.

  • The American Red Cross is available to provide assistance and can be reached 24/7 at 844-334-7569.
  • The Lawrence Board of REALTORS, through its charitable arm the Lawrence Board of REALTORS Community Foundation, is offering housing assistance to those who were displaced by the May 28 tornado. Housing assistance will be equal to one month’s rent or mortgage payment, up to $1,500 per household. The application is available online at or by downloading here.  Please contact the office of the Lawrence Board of REALTORS at 785-842-1843 with questions.
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans to Douglas County residents affected by the May 28 tornado.For more info:
  • Nebraska Furniture Mart and Ashley Furniture are offering furniture for tornado victims. Douglas County residents should call the Douglas County Community Foundation at 785-843-8727. Linwood residents should call the Salvation Army at 816-756-2769.

Q: Is there any relief from property taxes?

A: If your home was destroyed or substantially destroyed and the cost of restoring the structure to its before-damaged condition would equal or exceed 50 percent of the market value of the structure before the damaged occurred, you may be eligible for tax relief. A Kansas statute allows the Douglas County Commission to abate all or a portion of the tax levied on the property for the year in which the event occurred. An application will be required to become eligible for relief. The Douglas County Appraiser will be sending applications by mail to homes that may qualify. The application also can be downloaded here. For more information, call the Douglas County Appraiser Office at 785-832-5133.

Q: What do I do with debris?

A: Douglas County Public Works has provided the following guidelines:

Construction and demolition debris: Douglas County entered into a contract dated June 24 with Custom Tree Care, Inc. of Topeka for removing residential construction and demolition (C&D) debris from road rights-of-way. Residential property owners may push C&D debris (building materials, carpet, drywall, lumber, etc.) to an area reachable from the road right-of-way for pick up by the contractor. Custom Tree Care Inc. has limited reach with its equipment and getting off the road right-of-way onto private property is not an option. Therefore, property owners need to keep C&D debris piles as close to the right-of-way as possible, and they may need to keep pushing up debris as the contractor reaches what it can from the road. Residents can push C&D debris to the road right-of-way until Wednesday, July 24, for pick up. If the debris is unreachable from the road, it will not be picked up. 

*** Please be aware that removal of a building's concrete foundation materials (footings, basement walls, slabs, etc.) is not a FEMA-reimbursable expense and will not be picked up by the contractor or Public Works crews. The contractor hired by the property owner to remove these foundation materials should haul away these materials. Clean concrete rubble may be hauled to an approved construction and demolition (C&D) debris landfill site or to the Hamm Landfill. Approved C&D landfill sites in Douglas County are:

  • 1600 N 1250 Road — RD Johnson Excavating Company
  • 1736 E 1550 Road — Nunemaker-Ross Inc.
  • 1289 E 1750 Road — Dan King     

Your contractor should check with each site to ensure they will accept the C&D debris.

White goods: Washers and dryers and other primarily metal appliances can be dropped off at a metal recycling facility (Advantage Metals Recycling and 12th and Haskell Recycle Center are two options). Large items containing freon, such as refrigerators and A/C units, must be processed to remove the freon prior to disposal. Contact large appliance dealers for options on processing these items.

Household hazardous waste (HHW): Residential paint, solvents, pesticides and aerosol cans will not be picked up with disaster debris. Drop off these materials at the City of Lawrence/Douglas County Household Hazardous Waste Facility located at 2201 Kresge Road in Lawrence during facility open hours: Tuesday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. A list of accepted HHW items is listed online at

Electronics: Televisions, computers and phones will not be picked up with disaster debris. Electronics can be disposed of through regular household garbage collection or dropped off for recycling. To search recycling opportunities in Lawrence, visit

Household garbage: Household trash and bagged debris of any kind will not be picked up with disaster debris. Continue to follow your normal garbage removal schedule.

Q: My insurance company is not being responsive. Is there someone I can call?

A: Douglas County residents who have a question about their insurance coverage or are having an issue with their insurance company are encouraged to contact the Kansas Insurance Department’s Consumer Assistance Hotline at 1-800-432-2484 (Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.).

More info:

Q: How can I make sure I don’t get caught up in a scam?

A: For Douglas County residents making repairs, be cognizant of consumer protection advice from Kansas Attorney General and Douglas County District Attorney when hiring contractors:

  • Get multiple written bids on home improvement projects to ensure quotes are reasonable and competitive. Be cautious is one bid is much lower than the other.
  • Ask for local references. Working with a well-known, reputable local contractor will help prevent becoming a victim of a fly-by-night operator who won’t be around if you have problems later.
  • Friends, family and neighbors are the best sources for recommendations.
  • Be sure your contractor is insured.
  • Document everything in writing, including insist on a contract that states exactly what work will be done, the quality of materials that will be used, warranties, timetables, the names of any subcontractors, the total price of the job and the schedule of payments.
  • Be especially cautious if one of the bids is much lower than the others.
  • Find out from the appropriate building code enforcement office which permits and inspections are required for the work being done and avoid a contractor who wants you to secure the permit.

Q: Is my well water OK to drink?

A: For those who rely on well water, remember to check your well. If your well has sustained damage as a result of the tornado or is affected by flooding, do not drink from it until is has been tested or shocked.

Do not drink contaminated water, and do not use contaminated water to wash dishes, brush teeth, mix formula or make ice.

The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department can provide well testing for those with wells affected by the tornado or flooding. The Health Department will waive well testing fees for anyone who has damage from last week’s storms. Call the Health Department at 785-843-3060 to speak with the Environmental Health program.

Q: What safety measures should I be aware before cleaning up or helping with cleanup?

A: For those cleaning up debris:

  • Dress appropriately. Wear thick soled shoes, long pants and work gloves.
  • Before you begin any debris clean up on your property, consider the last time you had a tetanus booster vaccine. If it has been more than 10 years, you should get the vaccine. Also, during cleanup if you suffer a puncture wound of any kind, it is encouraged that you get a booster. The Health Department's clinic, 200 Maine St., does have tetanus booster vaccine available. You can call the clinic office 785-843-0721.

Tetanus is a bacterial disease that produces a poison in the body. The poison can cause seizures, lock jaw and difficulty breathing. It can often take several months to fully recover.

Q: Is help available for coping with loss?

A: The reasons for grief are many, and coping with the loss of someone or something you love is one of life's biggest challenges. Often, the pain of loss can feel overwhelming. You may feel shocked or numb. Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, 200 Maine Street, can help. If you or someone you know needs support, call Bert Nash at 785-843-9192.

Q: Is help available for taking care of pets?

A: If you are in need of supplies for your pet (food, litter, supplies, kennels) as a result of the tornado, visit the Lawrence Humane Society at 1805 E. 19th Street.

Looking for a way to help? The Lawrence Humane Society is accepting donations of linens (blankets, sheets, and towels only), clay litter, dog and cat food, rubber Kong toys, and peanut butter. These items should be delivered to the Lawrence Humane Society at 1805 E. 19th Street.

Q: Where can I make a donation?

A: In response to the 2019 Douglas County tornado and flooding, Douglas County Community Foundation (DCCF) has created the Douglas County Disaster Response Fund, which is now active to accept donations. The purpose of this fund now and in the future is for designated incidents of crisis or disaster whether man-made or otherwise for Douglas County.

To contribute to the Douglas County Disaster Response Fund, you may:

  • Mail a check to: Douglas County Community Foundation 900 Massachusetts, Suite 406 Lawrence, KS 66044. Please write “Douglas County Disaster Response Fund” in the memo line.
  • Donate via credit card on DCCF’s website.
  • Gift appreciated stock or other alternative asset options. Please contact DCCF staff at 785-843-8727 or email Executive Director Chip Blaser.

For more info about the fund.

Related Document(s): 

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Karrey Britt, Communications Specialist