June 30, 2015

Summer’s here, time to take threat of lightning much more seriously

LightningThis first week of summer is Lightning Safety Awareness Week, as summertime is the peak season for lightning and Nebraskans are being reminded about the dangers and how to take precautions.

Meteorologist Mindy Beerends, at the National Weather Service, says lightning strikes kill about 50 people nationwide every year.

While some Nebraskans like to sit on their front porch and watch storms approach, Beerends says that’s not a good idea. She says you should take seriously the motto: “When thunder roars, go indoors.”

“If you can hear that thunder, it is close enough that lightning can strike,” Beerends says. “Lightning can strike up to 10 miles away from a thunderstorm. It’s definitely not something I would recommend to try and watch the storm roll in. Even when you’re in your home, try to stay away from doors and windows as you could get struck by lightning through those areas as well.”

Lightning can also travel through wiring and water pipes. During storms stay away from bathtubs, sinks, corded phones and anything that uses electricity, including TVs, computers and appliances. If a storm rolls up while you’re out playing soccer, riding your bike or checking the corn crop, Beerends says take immediate precautions if there’s no cover.

“Stay away from trees, stay away from lampposts, anything that’s taller than you,” Beerends says. “If you are caught without shelter nearby, crouch down on your tiptoes and cover your head with your hands.” That’s an effort to minimize your surface area touching the ground and to minimize your height. She says to do that until the storm passes.

When possible, take shelter immediately and remain in the shelter for at least 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder.

No Nebraskans have been killed in lightning strikes this year. Between 1959 and 2013, there were 45 lightning deaths in Nebraska, ranking the state 31st in terms of lightning-related fatalities. Florida is by far the deadliest lightning state with 471 deaths over those years, while Alaska and Hawaii were tied with zero.

For more tips, visit www.weather.gov.


Summer arrives June 21st, take precautions & keep cool

SunlightSummer will arrive this coming weekend and along with the fun in the sun many Nebraskans have planned, they’re reminded heat kills more Americans each year than hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes and floods combined.

Meteorologist Kelsey Angle, at the National Weather Service, says it’s been cooler lately, but don’t be fooled.

“Temperatures will be increasing as well as the humidity and with that does come the danger if people don’t take the necessary precautions,” Angle says. It’s unfortunate, but every summer there are many Nebraskans hospitalized — or killed — by heat-related illnesses.

“I just want to make sure people are drinking plenty of water, wearing light-colored and loose-fitting clothing if they’re going to be working outside during the hot summer months,” Angle says, “and if they’re starting to feel the impact from the heat, that they’re taking frequent breaks.”

When it’s really hot and humid, evaporation doesn’t take place and the body can’t cool well. Your body temperature can increase to a potentially-fatal 106 degrees in as little as ten minutes and then, heat stroke can strike. Most animals are just as susceptible.

Angle says, “It’s important to remember pets during the hot summer months, that we’re providing them shade as well as plenty of water so that they can cool their bodies efficiently and effectively.”

Learn more about the heat and humidity at www.weather.gov

Pilger celebrates recovery this weekend

Pilger, after an EF4 tornado hit the village June 16, 2014

Pilger, after an EF4 tornado hit the village June 16, 2014

They call it a Celebration of Rebuilding, Resilience, and Recovery for all who helped Pilger pick up the pieces after a devastating tornado a year ago.

The weekend celebration gets under this afternoon as Midwest Bank breaks ground at its new location at 2nd and Main Street in downtown Pilger.

A community picnic will be held tonight at 6:30pm at the city park, where much of the festivities take place this weekend.

“The Park has always been an important part of Pilger,” Angela Denton, Co-Chair for the Reinventing Pilger Committee, tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KTCH. “But it became even more important last year where it was the command center where all of the residents could gather and we spent a lot of time there.”

The tornado tore through the heart of Pilger

The tornado tore through the heart of Pilger

Friday evening will wrap up with the movie “The Boxtrolls” at the Pilger ball field at sundown. Freewill donations are accepted. Bring your own seating.

An adult co-ed softball tournament begins events on Saturday with first pitch at 8 o’clock.

At 10a.m., there will be a Progressive Walking Tour, Pilger Peddler event, and a book signing by LaRayne M. Topp, author of “Eighty-Seconds,” from 10a.m. till noon.

Both the library and museum will be open much of the day Saturday.

The Iowa Storms Chasers will do a presentation throughout the day at the park, pending weather.

Food vendors will be on hand. An inflatable Midway will be open from noon until 4 o’clock.

Aerial view in wake of the tornado, taken by Nebraska State Patrol

Aerial view in wake of the tornado, taken by Nebraska State Patrol

Saturday evening will wrap up with a couple of concerts: First from 6:30 – 8 p.m. the Damon Nomad Band will perform at the Pilger ball field and then from 8-8:15 p.m. there will be the State of Pilger Address followed by another concert.

“At 8:30 we have a local artist, Rachel Price, who is from O’Neill,” Denton adds. “That is doing some recording in Nashville and she is going to do a concert from 8:30 to midnight.”

A community church service will be held at the Pilger Park, beginning at 10 o’clock Sunday morning. There will be a flag dedication at the Pilger Library from the Omaha Post 1 American Legion Riders.

“There is something for everyone all weekend here in Pilger,” Denton said. “As we reflect back on the last year and how far we’ve come and we are just stopping for a moment just to say thank you to everybody that had supported us throughout this last year.”

For more information, go to PilgerRE: Celebration on Facebook or visit the Reinventing Pilger website at www.pilgerre.wordpress.com <http://www.pilgerre.wordpress.com>.

An EF4 tornado hit Pilger June 16th last year, nearly wiping out the village.

By Aaron Scheffler, KTCH


Water levels dropping but threats from flooding remain high

Flooding LOGOEmergency management officials in central and western Nebraska are keeping a close watch on water levels along the Platte River as recent rains have pushed the waterway out of its banks in many areas.

Darrin Lewis, emergency management director for Buffalo County, says the threat is still there.

“Emergency management has been out checking the Platte River from Elm Creek to Shelton,” Lewis says. “The river is still up high, it is still in flood stage and we are still in a flood warning,” though he adds, the river is starting to drop. Despite the slowly falling levels, Lewis says that doesn’t mean there’s no danger.

“We’re hoping we’re going to drop below flood stage in the next few days and the flood warning will go away,” Lewis says. “We don’t want people to drop their guard because we know there’s more water coming our direction that will probably push us back into the flood stage and flood warning again.”

Lewis says it may be several weeks before river levels return to normal. The latest weather models show continued chances for off-and-on showers and thunderstorms heading into June.

By Brent Wiethorn, KKPR, Kearney


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