Memories of Andover, Kan., Tornado Still Fresh Decades Later

Robello Family
That night, immediately, the Red Cross was there.

In the afternoon hours of April 26, 1991, dozens of tornadoes broke out across the Midwest. The storm that would become one of the most dangerous and destructive that day was headed for Andover, Kan., just outside Wichita.

“We could see that the weather was kind of getting bad,” said Kathy Robello, who talked about her family’s experience on video as part of the Red Cross Storytellers Campaign.

Robello, her husband and two young daughters took shelter in the crawl space of their home when the tornado neared.

“That’s what saved our life,” Robello said, showing a photo of the hole in the ground that saved their lives as the tornado destroyed the home above them.

By the time the F5 tornado had finished, it had wrought extensive damage in Andover, including to McConnell Air Force Base. The deadly tornado had taken lives and destroyed numerous houses, including the Robellos’.

As Robello recounts, the Red Cross began helping storm survivors right after the tornado passed.

“But that night, immediately, the Red Cross was there. That volunteer—he didn’t even know us. He just knew that there was a family with two younger kids who didn’t have a place to go, ” she said.

“That was the Red Cross,” Robello continued. “I knew that’s what they stood for—they help people.”

About the Storytellers Campaign

The Red Cross Storytellers Campaign is a first-ever, documentary-style ad campaign that began rolling out across the country in January. The print and TV ad spots, which feature unscripted stories created and filmed by the participants, are powerful and personal accounts of how their lives have been touched by the Red Cross.

Red Cross Disaster Relief

The Red Cross responds to approximately 70,000 disasters in the United States every year, ranging from home fires that affect a single family to large disasters that may affect thousands or even millions, such as hurricanes and earthquakes.

The Red Cross provides shelter, food, health and mental health services to help families and entire communities get back on their feet after a disaster, and partners with other agencies and organizations that provide services to disaster victims.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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