Residents begin going through the rubble after tornadoes hammer parts of Nebraska and Iowa

Apr 27, 2024, 12:16 PM

On April 26, 2024, a tornado outbreak occurred from central Nebraska into central Iowa, largely cen...

On April 26, 2024, a tornado outbreak occurred from central Nebraska into central Iowa, largely centered on NWS Omaha's county warning area. One of the more notable damage tracks stretched from just northeast of Lincoln, through the Waterloo and Elkhorn areas, and all the way to near Soldier, IA, in eastern Monona county. In total, NWS Omaha issued 42 tornado warnings (National Weather Service)

(National Weather Service)

OMAHA, NEB. (AP) — Residents began sifting through the rubble Saturday after a tornado plowed through suburban Omaha, Nebraska, demolishing homes and businesses as it moved for miles through farmland and into subdivisions, then slamming an Iowa town.

The Friday night tornadoes wreaked havoc in the Midwest, causing a building to collapse with dozens of people inside and destroying and damaging hundreds of homes.

There have been several injuries but no fatalities reported.

By Saturday morning, the sounds of chainsaws filled the air in the Elkhorn neighborhood of Omaha, a city of 485,000 people with a metropolitan area population of about 1 million. Lumber from the damaged homes lay in piles. Fences were knocked over and the trees were skeletal, missing most of their branches.

Power outages peaked at 10,000, but had dropped to 4,300 by morning.

“We could hear it coming through,” said Pat Woods, who lives in Elkhorn. “When we came up, our fence was gone and we looked to the northwest and the whole neighborhood’s gone.”

Omaha police Lt. Neal Bonacci said Saturday that the fire department had completed its search of damaged homes and structures. He described the injuries as minor.

The sheriff of the city’s Douglas County, Aaron Hanson, begged the community in a message on the social media platform X to not drive to the damaged areas for “mere entertainment.” He said gawkers were causing traffic jams and could slow emergency vehicles.

Meanwhile, Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen posted on X that he had ordered state resources to be made available to help. He and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds planned to tour damaged areas. And Pillen planned a news conference later Saturday in Omaha.

The National Weather Service was still evaluating the number and strength of the twisters.

One of them hit an industrial building to the west of Omaha, in Nebraska’s Lancaster County, causing it to collapse with 70 people inside. Several were trapped, but everyone was evacuated and the three injuries were not life-threatening, authorities said.

Sheriff’s officials there also said they had reports of a tipped-over train near Waverly, Nebraska.

Another tornado passed over Eppley Airfield on the eastern edge of Omaha, destroying four hanger buildings with 32 privately owned planes inside. No one was hurt and the passenger terminal was not hit. The airport has resumed operations, although access to areas used by noncommercial pilots is limited so crew can clean up the mess, the airfield said in a news release.

After hitting the airport, the storm moved into Iowa, taking aim at the small town of Minden.

Forty to 50 homes were completely destroyed. Two injuries were reported but none were life-threatening, said Jeff Theulen, chief deputy of the Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office, at a late Friday briefing.

“It’s heartbreaking to see these people who have lost houses, cars, essentially their life until they have to rebuild it,” he said, urging people to stay away because of downed power lines.

At the Minden United Church of Christ, which survived the storm and has become a community hub of help and support, there were plans to take 4-wheel-drive vehicles out to devastated parts of town to bring meals to those who need them, Pastor Eric Biehl said.

“A lot of people are just kind of in shock,” Biehl said. “It’s all overwhelming now.”

Tammy Pavich, who stores equipment on the west edge of town, said she “kind of breathed a sigh of relief” after the first round of tornadoes moved through Omaha. Then, she recalled, the storm “hit Minden dead-on.”

Todd Lehan, a lifelong resident of the town, said he took shelter in a windowless basement.

“It sounded like a vacuum cleaner on top of your house,” he recalled.

The damage was causing headaches for Nebraska football fans headed to the spring game.

“Be prepared for heavy traffic, buckle up and put the phone down,” warned the Nebraska Department of Transportation.

Even as the National Weather Service worked to evaluate the damage, the forecast for Saturday was ominous. It issued tornado watches early Saturday for northwestern Texas and across western Oklahoma.

“Tornadoes, perhaps significant tornadoes,” were possible Saturday afternoon and evening, said weather service meteorologist Bruce Thoren in Norman, Oklahoma.

Hollingsworth reported from Mission, Kansas and Jeff Martin from Minden, Iowa. Associated Press writers Margery A. Beck and Josh Funk in Omaha, Nebraska, Ken Miller in Oklahoma City; Hannah Fingerhut in Des Moines, Iowa; Jack Dura in Bismarck, North Dakota; Jeff Martin in Atlanta and Lisa Baumann in Bellingham, Washington; contributed to this report.

KSL 5 TV Live


Security forces stand around a stage that collapsed due to a gust of wind during an event attended ...

Michael Rios, Mia Alberti and Fidel Gutierrez and Ivana Kottasová

9 dead, 54 injured as wind causes stage collapse at Mexico election rally

Nine people were killed and a presidential candidate was briefly taken to hospital after a stage collapsed under heavy winds at a campaign rally in Mexico on Wednesday.

1 day ago

Workers search through the remains of tornado-damaged property, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Greenfiel...

Hannah Fingerhut, Scott McFetridge, and Margery A. Back, Associated Press

Tornado devastates Iowa town, killing multiple people as powerful storms rip through Midwest

Multiple people were killed and at least a dozen were injured Tuesday as a tornado devastates a small Iowa town.

2 days ago

A tornado spins west of Hawley, Texas, as cars pass on U.S. 277 on Thursday May 2, 2024, part of on...

Associated Press

Severe storms blitz the US South again after one of the most active tornado periods on record

More than 15 million people from Texas to Florida were under threat of severe storms and the potential for more tornadoes Monday, many of them in areas previously hit during one of the most active periods for tornados in history.

11 days ago

Residents row a boat in a flooded street after heavy rains, in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul stat...

Maurico Savarese and Eleonore Hughes, The Associated Press

Flooding forecast to worsen in Brazil’s south, where many who remain are poor

More rain started coming down on Saturday in Brazil’s already flooded Rio Grande do Sul state, where many of those remaining are poor people with limited ability to move to less dangerous areas.

12 days ago

Marshall Falcon, left, photographs the northern lights as he and Angie Avitia watch the celestial d...

Ray Sanchez and Ashley R. Williams, CNN

There’s another chance to view the northern lights show Sunday night – but not for everyone

In case you missed the stunning nighttime spectacle of multicolored auroras dancing in the skies across the Northern Hemisphere, there is still a chance Sunday evening to catch a glimpse – but not for everyone.

12 days ago

The northern lights over Park City, Utah on May 11, 2024....

Ray Sanchez, CNN

Missed the dazzling northern lights show? You might get another chance Saturday night

A second chance to view the magnificent auroras from a series of solar flares and coronal mass ejections from the sun will arrive Saturday evening in case you missed the show the previous night.

13 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Residents begin going through the rubble after tornadoes hammer parts of Nebraska and Iowa