Heartland Recovers From the Storm

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Storm Debris Drop-Off

If you live in La Vista you can take limbs to the public works facility through Friday from 7 a.m. until 3:30. That's at 9900 Portal Road.
Residents of Omaha can dump storm debris at the east parking lot of the football field at Ta-Ha-Zouka Park in Elkhorn. That site will stay open until 6 p.m. on Saturday.

A day after turbulent storms tumbled across the heartland, the clean-up and recovery stretched for hundreds of miles across Nebraska and Iowa.

Parts of the metro made quick work of trees brought down in the storms that packed winds as high as 80 miles-per-hour or more.

In spite of the wide-ranging damage left in the path of the storm, there were no fatalities and no reports of serious injury.

The heavy weather scraped across half the state of Nebraska and a much of Iowa.

South-central Nebraska took some of the heaviest hits. Homes were heavily damaged in Cordova and Beaver Crossing. Roofs were torn off and walls were on the ground. Grain bins were bent and thrown while power lines came down.

Elkhorn Middle School took some serious water damage. Rain seeped into two classrooms. Fans were brought in to dry the carpet. There doesn't appear to be any damage to equipment but class adjustments had to be made in a school already at capacity with students.

Assistant Principal Deb Garrison said, “Kids just move. Instead of going to their same classroom they go to a different one. The kids have been great. They're fine, well taken care of and teachers are flexible."

The school's weight room caught the brunt of the water leaks. Several ceiling tiles will have to be replaced. School officials are assessing damage and what can be done to keep it from happening again.

Utility crews have been working around the clock to get people's power back on. At the height of the storm some 26,000 OPPD customers had lost power. By Monday afternoon that number was reduced to approximately 1,400.

Bethany Lutheran Day Care and Preschool at 204th and Maple was shut down Monday. They had to close the doors because the lights are out and that had a number of metro area parents scrambling to find alternate plans for their children.

Pastor John Eggen said, “Got about 40 kids in full-time day care so that was canceled for the day and probably about 100 kids in the preschool program, morning and afternoon, that won’t be able to attend today either."

The problem is outside and close to the facility. A few power lines were down, the street was closed and work crews were busy trying to get the power back on.

In the meantime the church has to fire-up generators to keep food they have on hand in the freezer safe. They have prepared for such an event but the real thing is always much more intense.

Pastor Eggen said, “Two weeks ago we shut down power for a construction project here so we just call this our weekly power outage down here at the church. You don’t think about all the details. When you plan for the power outage that’s one thing but when it just happens you have to scramble to pull things together.”

The storm caused no damage to the building. Officials hope to have the power back and on and to be up and operating by Tuesday.

Lake Panorama, a little more than 100 miles east of Omaha, took a major hit from the storm.

Jay Gerlich is lucky. He was outside when the storm hit, tearing through homes and condos around 10 p.m.

He managed to get to safety inside moments before his home was hit by an EF-2 tornado.

Gerlich said, “I was outside most of the time watching it roll in and my wife decided to go in the basement. I was coming in because it was starting to get severe and like a bomb went off. It was just an amazing sight to see everything just blow up. It was just a real loud noise and then a boom and it was over and the boom was the debris falling on our house and landing."

Although the damage is extensive it could have been much worse. Because it was a Sunday night, many people in the resort community had returned to their homes by the time the storm hit. No one was hurt.

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