On Friday night, Lindsay Triplett and her family in Andover, Kan., received emergency alarms on their cellphones. Minutes later, the roof of their home vanished.
Ms. Triplett and her family were safe. She had taken shelter in her family’s basement with her husband, four daughters and the family’s Labrador retriever, huddling under a staircase. But when they emerged, their home was in ruins, in the wake of devastation left by the tornado that hit the city directly.
“The house won’t be salvageable,” Ms. Triplett said on Saturday. “I am trying to remain calm for the girls. But really, what do we do now?”
The tornado in Andover, a city of nearly 15,000 outside Wichita, uprooted trees, heaved cars into buildings and ripped through houses and power lines. No fatalities stemming directly from the impact were reported by the authorities. But up to 1,000 structures in Andover were affected by the tornado, officials said.
Last month, an Ohio court certified a class action lawsuit brought by lawyer Rob Bilott that would cover 7 million people – and at some point possibly everyone living in the United States – who have been exposed to certain hazardous “forever chemicals” known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS.
The chemicals have been linked to cancer, birth defects, kidney disease and a range of other human health problems. They are called “forever chemicals” because they do not naturally break down, persisting indefinitely in the environment.
Two types of PFAS – PFOA and PFOS – have been found to be so harmful that they are being phased out of use. In addition to US multi-national company 3M, the class action lawsuit names 10 other companies that produce PFAS, which are used to make cookware, food packaging, water-resistant fabrics, firefighting foam and other products. The Biden administration last year pledged to undertake a massive PFAS mitigation strategy at a cost of more than $10bn.