The morning after Tuesday’s storms is still bitter pill for many in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa. A series of severe storms pounded the area well into Wednesday morning.
The worst damage is in Washington County. Baseball to softball sized hail hammered the area destroying roofs, stripping paint from homes, breaking windows and wiping out crops. Vehicles that were not under shelter are heavily damaged or totaled. There were numerous vehicles parked on the side of a highway from Omaha to Blair where all the windows were completely gone.
The Woodhouse Auto dealership in Blair had more than 4,500 vehicles on their lot with a retail inventory valued at more than $163-million. Today it is a pile of dented metal and broken glass.
Eighty mile-per-hour wind also whipped through the area. Washington County Sheriff Mike Robinson says the courthouse has severe damage and there are many power poles and trees down throughout the area.
After the strong wind and hail, round two moved in and dumped more than five inches of rain. That caused a flash flood in a northeast Omaha neighborhood. Rescue crews used boats to reach the victims, including a 95 year old woman in a wheelchair. Buses took them to an American Red Cross emergency shelter. Thirteen people ended up spending the night and the shelter remains open today.
The heavy rain also caused street flooding throughout the metro area. Dozens of vehicles stalled in rising water trapping those inside. Rescue crews again used boats to reach the victims and help them to safety.
Eppley Airfield shut down access to the airport for several hours on Tuesday due to flooding. More than 30 flights were canceled.
Crews with the Papio – Missouri River Natural Resources District spent much of the night monitoring conditions along the Big, Little and West Papio Creeks. General Manager John Winkler says the heavy rain that fell north and west of the metro, combined with the rain here had to converge somewhere and the spot happened to be in Papillion and Bellevue. He says there was also a lot of debris from trees in the water and that was a possible flood danger. Evacuations were not needed.
Omaha Public Power District worked hard to keep the lights on for everyone. There were less than 2,000 customers without power in their service area during the height of the storm. Crews continue to restore power today.