Washington County officials provide updates on Arbor Day Tornado Outbreak impact


Washington County officials provided updates on the impact of the Arbor Day Tornado Outbreak at a meeting Friday in Kennard, Nebraska.

Washington County officials provided updates on tornado relief efforts during a meeting Friday, May 3, 2024 in Kennard, Nebraska.

Luna Stephens

Hundreds of residents gathered at an auditorium in the town southwest of Blair to hear about the next steps toward rebuilding following the impact of the tornado that hit areas of the county April 26.

The tornado entered Washington County after sweeping through the Elkhorn and Bennington areas. It eventually crossed the Missouri River and dissipated southwest of Modale, Iowa. The National Weather Service classified the tornado as an EF3 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.

County officials said there were six reported injuries from the tornadoes in the county and no deaths.

Despite very few injuries, officials and residents shared stories of the extensive damage. Washington County Highway Superintendent David Kruger described a local road worker having to leave his destroyed home to help clear roads so emergency vehicles could get through.

People are also reading…

Erv Portis, assistant director of the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, told those gathered at the meeting the damage from the tornado was some of the worst he’d ever seen.

“This one ranks near the top of the bad because it’s so many individual property owners,” he said. “I have great compassion for you.”

Portis outlined how affected residents can apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance, which starts by visiting www.DisasterAssistance.gov, calling 800-621-3362 or downloading the FEMA mobile app.

FEMA has approved funds for both public assistance and individual assistance for those impacted by the tornadoes in Douglas and Washington Counties.  Individual assistance is issued more rarely than public assistance, Portis said, and the last time Nebraska received individual assistance funding was in the wake of the 2019 floods.

Local law enforcement agencies and fire departments said they all worked together to respond to the impacted areas and received assistance from neighboring agencies. Washington County Sheriff Mike Robinson said he has asked the National Guard to keep affected areas secure.

“We can only do so much for so long before we need to ask for help,” he said.

Maria Moreno, divisional emergency disaster services director at The Salvation Army’s Western Division, said the agency was continuing to operate out of the Skinny Bones Pumpkin Patch located off of Highway 133. She said they are working closely with other organizations like The American Red Cross and the First Lutheran Church in Blair to provide support for those affected.

“When I arrived here I was astonished by what the community had stepped up and done,” she said. “We are here for the entire time that you need the support.”

Share post:


More like this

Maps show where Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s helicopter was found

The helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi along with...

Trump’s immigration plans could deal a major blow to the job market

As Donald Trump touts increasingly aggressive plans to crack...

Turks mark Commemoration of Ataturk, Youth and Sports Day in Washington, DC | News

Members of the Turkish community gathered Sunday in Washington,...