Heavy Weather Opens Fire

By: WOWT 6 News Email
By: WOWT 6 News Email
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Omaha emergency crews rescued several people from flooded homes in the area of 16th and Ames in the aftermath of severe storms that hammered the heartland on Tuesday.

The storms opened fire around mid-afternoon. Wind speeds were clocked in excess of 80 mph in places. Hail caused extensive structural damage and floodwater snarled traffic.


Rescues

Emergency crews rescued a 95-year-old wheelchair-bound woman from a flooded home near 16th and Ames shortly before 8 p.m. As emergency crews were engaged in that rescue they realized there were more people trapped in the area. Several others were rescued shortly afterward, brought to safety aboard a raft. The water was chest-deep in some places.

Police said the entire area was evacuated. There were several houses flooded. Buses were brought in to assist. Shelter was being set up at the Florence Community Center at 2920 Bondesson Street. Twenty people were in that shelter by 10:30 p.m. The Omaha Fire Department went door-to-door looking for anyone who might be stranded.

Eppley Airfield was closed for several hours as flooding shut down access to the airport. It reopened shortly after 8:30 p.m. There was still standing water and flash flooding on many of the streets in and around the airport. Officials said nearly five inches of rain had fallen at Eppley by 10:30 p.m.

The water was receding slowly and pump stations were pumping at maximum capacity. Airfield maintenance workers used snow brooms to remove debris from taxi ways. There were 33 cancellations by 8:45 p.m. Most runways reopened by 9 p.m., but that doesn't mean you're in the clear if you're flying Wednesday.

A number of outgoing flights were canceled Wednesday morning since those planes couldn't get in Tuesday night. If not canceled, you can expect flights to be delayed, so check with your airline for the latest. Everything should be back to normal by Wednesday afternoon.

The Missouri River level in the metro is at 17.6 feet and by Thursday afternoon is expected to rise another two feet. That's still well below the flood stage of 29 feet.

The street flooding caused a number of problems in Omaha. Police asked drivers to stay off the roads. The intersection of Saddle Creek and Dodge was flooded around 6:30 p.m. Vehicles were partially submerged.

Police reported problems near 72nd and Maple where streets were shut down due to flooding. Authorities urged people to avoid driving in low areas, reporting many vehicles flooded in various areas all over the metro.

Problem areas included 30th and Ames, 30th and Sorenson Parkway, 72 and Pinkney, Fontenelle Blvd and 42 Street and in mainly northwest and northeast Omaha. There were many stalled vehicles in water.

Highway 75 into Fort Calhoun was blocked around 8 p.m. due to a natural gas leak by a building on the southern edge of town. MUD secured the gas leak. There were 300 to 400 people without service. Repairs were expected to be completed by early Wednesday morning. Officials will go door-to-door to relight customers' pilot lights.

Baseball-sized hail was reported in Uehling, Nebraska. There was tree damage and structural damage. There were reports of softball-sized hail in Dodge County and shattered car windows in Washington County.

Hail larger than golf balls hit Hooper Nebraska accompanied by high wind. The tornado sirens sounded after 4 p.m. but no tornado was verified.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad issued a disaster proclamation for Pottawattamie County Tuesday night. That will clear the way for state resources to be used in recovery. Mosquito Creek is running high and nearby fields are flooded.

A Missouri Valley motel was heavily damaged. There were reports of tennis-ball sized hail in Page County, Iowa. Election officials sought shelter in Pottawattamie County after a severe storm interrupted primary election voting in a quarter of the county's polling places.

Auditor Mary Jo Drake said at about 5 p.m. Tuesday, poll workers and voters in 10 of the county's 40 precincts were forced to seek shelter in the buildings where voting was taking place. Drake said several polling places were "right in the eye of the storm." She said election officials suspended voting but returned to normal after the storm passed.

Stormy weather also prompted election officials in neighboring Montgomery County to close and evacuate all polls from 5:40 p.m. to 6:10 p.m.


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