September 1, 2014

No day off for Dakota City, recovering from the severe storms

Nebraskans in extreme northeastern Nebraska are spending today not at cook-outs, but at clean ups.

Dakota City is recovering the Labor Day after severe thunderstorms with high winds touching 80-miles-per-hour at times took down power lines and did some structural damage throughout the city.

Dakota City Mayor Jerry Yecevich says all the destruction is still being assessed.

“We’re working on the infrastructure first; getting the streets cleared,” Yecevich tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate WNAX. “We still do not have power back on in all the residents in town, yet. That’s a goal. We need to get that back up so we can get people in their homes. Last night we had some problems with gas leaks. Some of these trees were uprooted.”

The storm crossed the Missouri River and hit Sergeant Bluff, Iowa hard. It also blew over semis and blew debris onto I-29, which had to be closed for a couple of hours.

Yecevich says though the storm caused some structural damage in town, the biggest blow was to the power grid.

“A lot of it are trees; then with the downed power lines,” according to Yecevich. “There are some garages, some small buildings that got hit (by) trees, vehicles. There is some minor home damage. We haven’t been through everything yet to know exactly what all has been damage. We’re kind of early in the stages.”

Jerry Oster, WNAX, contributed to this article.

Storms prompt officials to urge disaster preparedness (AUDIO)

A summer of severe storms has promoted state officials to call on Nebraskans to be prepared in case disaster strikes.

Perhaps, the Sunday storms put a punctuation mark on the message by state officials that Nebraskans need to prepare for severe weather.

Gov. Dave Heineman declared September Nebraska Preparedness Month.

A state hit hard all summer by severe weather couldn’t escape the month of August without at least one more round. Stormy weather hit Nebraska on Sunday with straight-line winds clocked at 80 miles per hour in the eastern part of the state. The Panhandle suffered through rain, hail, and wind.

This summer, it seemed at times severe weather wouldn’t leave the state. It first struck on Mother’s Day and didn’t seem to let up until well into July.

“So this was a more taxing year, I think, than maybe the past couple,” Heineman says. “But you never know what’s going to happen relative to emergency weather.”

Heineman notes three federal disaster declarations have been issued for separate storms in Nebraska.

Even with such destruction, State Adjutant General Daryl Bohac reminds us each year stands on its own.

“If you go back to 2011, we faced floods; 2012, fires. Last year, you know, a little quieter, but I would remind us all in October, the community of Wayne was hit with a tornado and we had blizzards out in western Nebraska,” says Bohac. “So, it’s a little bit hard to do the comparative analysis.”

President Barack Obama issued a presidential disaster declaration for the destruction in Pilger in mid-June during which twin tornadoes formed outside the city with one of them cutting a swath through the heart of Pilger. Two died from the storm. The storm destroyed more than half the community in northeastern Nebraska.

The Mother’s Day storms that caused $20 million in damage to Beaver Crossing, Cordova, and Sutton.

The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency reported $13 million dollars in public assistance has been spent to assist communities hit by tornadoes June 16th and 17th, the most severe of which being the June 16th EF4 tornado that destroyed much of Pilger.

The Small Business Administration issued a declaration of disaster for Stanton County for tornadoes, high winds, and flooding that occurred during June. Its five neighboring counties, Colfax, Cuming, Madison, Pierce, Platte, and Wayne, also will be eligible for low-interest federal loans.

A long-term recovery team has formed to help northeastern Nebraska The Northeast Nebraska June 2014 Long Term Recovery Team is a network of faith-based, non-profit, governmental, business, other organizations and citizens that can coordinate long-term recovery efforts in

Stanton, Cuming, Dixon, Wayne, and Thurston Counties. The group plans to provide a number of services, including those to meet financial, physical, spiritual, and emotional needs.

During Nebraska Preparedness Month, Nebraska residents are being urged to put together a plan to survive the first 72 hours of a disaster. The theme is “Be Informed, Make a Plan, Build a Kit and Get Involved.”

Families should discuss how they would respond to a disaster and should prepare by assembling an emergency kit.

State officials suggest an emergency kit should include:

· battery-powered or crank radio

· weather alert radio

· extra batteries

· first aid kit

· sanitary wipes

· dust mask

· water for drinking and sanitation

· water purification tablets

· waterproof matches and/or butane lighter

· crank flashlight

· plastic sheeting

· non-perishable food for at least three days

· disinfectants and medications.

· medical information for entire family, including details about dosages of required medications and a list of known health issues.

Preparedness guides and resources are available at <> and <>.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:50]

Storms sweep through Nebraska

Stormy weather hit Nebraska on Sunday with straight-line winds clocked at 80 miles per hour in the eastern part of the state.

The Panhandle suffered through rain, hail, and wind. A weather spotter in Gordon reported that so much hail fell the ground turned white.

The National Weather Service reports the early evening thunderstorm that roared through eastern Nebraska actually did most of its damage across the river in Iowa.

Those strong straight-line winds were reported in Dakota City, Nebraska as well as Sergeant Bluff, Iowa.

Damage from a building flew onto Interstate 29, causing a non-injury accident that did enough damage to close the interstate for two hours.

The Omaha Public Power District reports more than 2,000 customers in Douglas County lost power. Most were restored by midnight.

Western Nebraska man sentenced on child porn charges

A western Nebraska man has been sentenced to five years in federal prison on child pornography charges.

Federal prosecutors say 52-year-old Ralph Moreno of Gering will have to serve five years of supervised released after getting out of prison. Moreno will also be required to register as a sex offender.

Nebraska State Patrol investigators downloaded videos of child pornography from a computer owned by Moreno in October. In November, investigators found child pornography in Moreno’s home.

According to the United States Attorney’s office, a forensic review of the computer discovered more than 200 child pornography videos downloaded during a five year period. Prosecutors say the videos were graphic

EPA slaps two Norfolk companies with big fines

Two pesticide companies with common ownership based in Norfolk have agreed to pay nearly $75,000 in penalties for the production and distribution of unregistered and misbranded pesticides.

Custom Feed Services Corporation will pay a penalty of $55,752. Earthworks Health LLC will pay $18,761.

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture inspected the two businesses on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency in November of 2011 after the EPA received a tip.

An investigation determine that Custom Feed Services sold copper sulfate and diatomaceous earth pesticide products not registered with the EPA, and that the company lacked valid EPA registration numbers and production establishment numbers. In addition, Custom Feed Services produced the pesticide products in a facility that was not registered with the EPA as a pesticide-producing facility in accordance with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

The EPA says that on multiple occasions, Earthworks Health sold or distributed unregistered and misbranded copper sulfate and diatomaceous earth pesticides, in addition to an unregistered antibacterial product, Foaming DisposALL Drain Cleaner.

Custom Feed Services and Earthworks Health have now certified they are now in compliance with FIFRA.