Governor Visits Tornado-Ravaged Wayne

By: The Associated Press Email
By: The Associated Press Email

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman surveyed the damage Sunday afternoon from Friday evening's tornado in Wayne and met with city officials, responders and those whose businesses were damaged or destroyed.

“People in this community are resilient and they are going to rebuild,” Gov. Heineman said. “We’re just thankful there was no loss of life. At the end of the day, buildings can be replaced, people can’t.”

The governor had participated in the dedication of a new terminal at the airport just weeks ago. The building, not yet completed, was demolished by the tornado now classified as an EF4 by the National Weather Service. “That was a very special ceremony. You see all that hard work and in at matter of seconds it was destroyed. If we do a second dedication, I’ll be here. Our message to the affected businesses is, we want to help you get back up and running."

The state is planning to include all the severe weather that occurred this weekend, from the winter storm in the panhandle to the Wayne tornado, in a disaster request to the federal government. “I don’t think there’s any question that we sustained enough damage,” said Gov. Heineman, who's already issued an emergency declaration for the area.

The National Weather Service says the tornado had peak winds up to 170 mph. An EF4 tornado has wind speeds of 166 to 200 mph.

Wayne State College says its chief information officer John Dunning was critically injured by flying debris while seeking shelter during the storm. Doctors have performed several surgeries on Dunning and the college said he remained in a medically-induced coma. His wife said doctors expect him to recover.

Fifteen people were injured with at least 10 homes and two dozen businesses damaged by the tornado. The Nebraska State Patrol shared the above aerial photos of the damage. Wayne Mayor Ken Chamberlain said damage to the community is in the millions of dollars and that the rebuilding process will be lengthy.

The local public health department provided tetanus shots Sunday afternoon to anyone injured in the recovery and response. The Red Cross has opened two shelters, one in Wayne and one in Macy, to help those displaced by the tornado.

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