Residents begin to clean up the damage after tornadoes bear down on Nebraska, Iowa (2024)

OMAHA, Neb. (KHGI/TND) — After severe weather swept through parts of the Midwest on Friday, residents are now beginning the clean-up process from tornado damage.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said in its most recent briefing report that the storm brought with it 78 potential tornadoes, mostly in Nebraska and Iowa.

During the briefing, Gov. Jim Pillen urged Nebraskans to remain calm and stay safe. He, along with officials from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Omaha airport authorities, National Incident Management and the American Red Cross, expressed appreciation for the help provided by communities, first responders, and volunteers in keeping people safe and cleaning up debris after the natural disaster.

They also highlighted the resilience of the affected communities which helped prevent a lot of damage and loss. FEMA has been conducting drone activities to get a bird's eye view of the destruction. Many homes and buildings were damaged, and some officers and firefighters had their properties destroyed, police said.

An official from the National Incident Management said that the agency is ready to assist affected communities. They used drone surveillance to assess the damage and will continue to do so to take the necessary steps for restoration.

An emergency proclamation will be issued in the coming days to recover funds from the government.

Officials from the health department reported a few minor injuries and that the victims were treated and released from the hospital. They recommended that anyone working to clear debris get a tetanus shot to avoid getting infected, especially those who have not had a shot in the last five years.

There were no fatalities.

Chris Franks with the National Weather Service said crews are still assessing the damage, but preliminary estimates say the two main damaged areas in the region appeared consistent with an EF2 twister or an EF3. Power outages peaked at 10,000, but had dropped to 4,300 by Saturday morning, Omaha Mayor Jean Louise Stothert said.

Stothert expressed support for those affected by the tornadoes and thanked media outlets for broadcasting early warnings on the severe weather.

Eppley Airfield Airport officials confirmed that the airport has reopened for flights. The tornado caused some damage to some aircraft and airport property.

Folks, please do not drive around impacted areas to look at storm damage for mere entertainment," the Douglas County Sheriff's Office said on X. "This is causing traffic jams, especially in hard-hit neighborhoods and could slow emergency response if needed."

The American Red Cross in Elkhorn set up a shelter at the Common Ground Community Center for residents and their pets who have been displaced.

In Iowa, the NWS in Des Moines has also begun surveys of the damage left behind after Friday's tornado outbreak. Teams will determine the number of tornadoes, the tracks and the severity of the winds based on the damage produced.

As of Saturday morning, the office estimates at least 10 tornadoes touched down in their coverage area.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds toured damage in Minden and said, "The people of Iowa are coming together, just like we always do, to help one another. With the possibility of more storms today, please be safe and look out for your neighbors."

Several leaders across Nebraska have made statements about the devastation these storms have caused.

"Suzanne and I extend our deepest prayers to all those impacted by today's storms," Pillen said. "I have ordered that state resources be made available to assist with the emergency response and to support local first responders as they assess the damage. Nebraskans are tough, resilient people, and our neighbors and communities will rally around affected families and businesses to assist them. Nebraskans are no strangers to severe weather and, as they have countless times before, Nebraskans will help Nebraskans to rebuild."

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer said she has been in contact with the governor's office, and they will work together to help the people and communities impacted. U.S. Congressman Mike Flood said Nebraskans are resilient and strong and will respond as we always do by working together.

Even as the NWS worked to evaluate the damage, the forecast for Saturday was ominous. It issued tornado watches early Saturday for northwestern Texas and across western Oklahoma. FEMA also said the tornado outbreak could extend into Kansas and Missouri.

“Tornadoes, perhaps significant tornadoes,” were possible Saturday afternoon and evening, said weather service meteorologist Bruce Thoren in Norman, Oklahoma.

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Editor's note: The Associated Press and KGAN contributed to this report.

Residents begin to clean up the damage after tornadoes bear down on Nebraska, Iowa (2024)
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