May 23, 2015

Feds do damage assessment in 10 counties after severe storms

Tornado damage in Roseland earlier this month

Tornado damage in Roseland earlier this month

The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency is requesting the Federal Emergency Management Agency work with NEMA and local emergency managers on joint damage assessments in ten southeast Nebraska counties.

Those counties sustained heavy rain, hail, wind and flood damage from tornadoes and severe storms between May 3rd and May 11th.

The counties are: Gage, Saline, Jefferson, Thayer, Lancaster, Otoe, Saunders, Cass, Adams and Nuckolls Counties.

Bryan Tuma, assistant director of Nebraska Emergency Management, says three counties, in particular, seemed to sustain the most public facility damage.

“There’s no doubt Thayer, Saline and Jefferson County were probably the hardest-hit counties,” Tuma says. “A lot of the road infrastructure, bridges, culverts were impacted significantly. A lot of transportation infrastructure was significantly impacted.”

FEMA damage assessment teams will be working in the region beginning next week to determine if federal assistance is needed to supplement state assistance. The State of Nebraska also requested assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration to help determine the extent of private property damage from the severe weather and flooding.

Tuma said that assessment is underway and may last through Friday.

“Next week, we will have representatives from FEMA, they will come in and start doing damage assessments, focused in on public infrastructure primarily and to identify the damage and what type of cost we’re looking at,” Tuma says. “Once those assessments are completed, we’ll know whether we’re positioned to make a request for a federal declaration.”

Tuma says the ten counties apparently have met the public damage threshold to be eligible for federal assistance, based on preliminary figures submitted by cities and counties.

“At this point, we’re not going to release any preliminary damage assessment figures but obviously, our threshhold is 2.5-million and we think that we would be eligible to at least be considered for a disaster declaration,” Tuma says. “It is in the millions of dollars.”

The SBA assessment this week is examining homes, personal property and businesses that have been impacted by the severe storms and flooding. That information will be submitted to the state, which will seek an SBA disaster declaration. That could make private property owners eligible for low-interest loans to aid in recovery.

By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice


Motorcycle-SUV crash kills Grand Island man

A Grand Island man is dead after a motorcycle and SUV collided Sunday afternoon.

Grand Island police have identified the man as 39-year-old Todd Schlender.  Authorities say Schlender was riding his motorcycle south on Webb Road when an SUV headed the opposite way turned in front of him to enter a business parking lot.  Schlender was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the SUV, 27-year-old Ruby Orozco of Grand Island, will be referred to the Hall County Attorney for failure to yield the right of way.

By Brent Weithorn, KXPN



Nebraska native confirmed dead in Nepal copter crash

UH1 HueyFamily members of a south central Nebraska native who was on a Marine helicopter that went down while on an earthquake relief mission in Nepal last week have confirmed the man’s death.

Keith Lukasiewicz, the father of Captain Dustin Lukasiewicz, said his family was officially notified of Dustin’s death on Saturday.

The Wilcox native was on a Huey helicopter with five other Marines and two Nepalese soldiers when the chopper went down.

Saturday all eight bodies were found.

The helicopter disappeared Tuesday while delivering aid to victims of the second earthquake to hit Nepal in less than a month.

By Brandon Peoples, KHAS, Hastings 

Nebraska Marine was on board missing helicopter in Nepal

Stock photo of UH-1 Huey

File photo of UH-1 Huey

There’s a Nebraska tie to that U.S. military helicopter that was reported missing Tuesday while delivering relief supplies to earthquake survivors in Nepal.

Eight people were aboard, including six Marines, one of whom is from south central Nebraska.

Sources have confirmed that Marine Dustin Lukasiewicz of Wilcox was among those on the helicopter, a UH-1 Huey.

The search for the chopper is still underway.

So far, more than 125 people have died from Nepal’s second major earthquake in less than a month with more than 2,500 reported as being injured. The country was rocked by a magnitude 7.3 quake on Tuesday.

A quake less than three weeks ago killed more than 8,000.

By Brent Wiethorn, KKPR, Kearney


Missing UNL student appears to have been swept away by high water

Anwesha Dey

Anwesha Dey

It appears a University of Nebraska-Lincoln student missing for more than a week was swept away by rapidly moving water in a Lincoln creek.

Lincoln Police Chief Jim Peschong says a local business has stepped forward with surveillance footage that appears to show 30-year-old Anwesha Dey fall into Antelope Creek on Sunday, May 3rd.

“The video shows her struggling in the water as she’s attempting to regain her footing and trying to get to the shore, although the water seemed to be moving too fast and it appears as though it carried her away,” Peschong tells reporters during a news conference.

Dey is from India. Her family says she doesn’t know how to swim.

Dey was last seen leaving a friend’s house.

Peschong says he can only speculate why Dey thought she could cross the creek even though the water was up.

“Maybe the water doesn’t look like its moving so fast, because it’s not rippling over anything,” Peschong says. “Ultimately, you reach the edge of the walkway and then you go down into the little trough that the water normally goes in and she loses her footing.”

A search for Dey’s body has expanded well beyond Antelope Creek to cover Salt Creek which it flows into as well as the Platte River; especially since the recent heavy rains that sparked widespread flooding in Lincoln.

Jane Monnich, KLIN, contributed to this report.