Assessment is taking place in Nebraska as residents in the eastern portion of the state pick up the pieces in wake of tornadoes and residents in the western portion of the state emerge from a blizzard.
Gov. Dave Heineman has declared an emergency at both ends of the state, the first step toward applying for a federal disaster declaration.
“We’ve already declared a state of emergency, asked for a (federal) disaster declaration. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be trying to assess the damage. I think we’ll meet the thresholds,” Heineman tells Kevin Thomas, host of Drive Time Lincoln on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “Now, a lot of this, particularly up in Wayne, it would appear is going to be covered by private insurance with the businesses, but we just don’t know yet.”
Heineman says Nebraskans have responded to help their neighbors, something he saw first-hand when he visited Wayne this past weekend.
“Well over 500 people turned out to volunteer to help with the cleanup,” according to Heineman. “I was just up there about a month ago and we dedicated a new airport facility that totally got demolished. The real concern we have is there were a number of businesses that were severely damaged.”
The governor has sent Lt. Gov. Lavon Heidemann and Nebraska Emergency Management Agency Assistant Director Al Berndt to Chadron and Crawford. They will survey the damage caused by the blizzard that dumped as much as a foot of snow on the Panhandle.
Preliminary assessments have disclosed heavy tree damage from the snow along Highway 20 from Rushville to Harrison. The blizzard hit Chadron and Crawford very hard. Local emergency workers have been cleaning up debris caused by downed trees and power lines.
NEMA reports it has been working with Region 23 Emergency Manager Nan Gould to respond to the counties of Sioux, Dawes, Box Butte, and Sheridan.
Heavy cattle losses have been reported.
Livestock producers are being asked by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to keep detailed records of their herd losses.
Kevin Thomas, KLIN, contributed to this report.