Gov. Dave Heineman today traveled to communities heavily hit by severe storms yesterday, including Beaver Crossing, Cordova and Sutton, to survey damage. The severe storms, including at least a dozen confirmed tornadoes, stretched approximately 90 miles, from west of Sutton to Omaha.
"I am always impressed with the citizens of our state and their desire to work together to assist one another in times of difficulty," said Gov. Dave Heineman. "I appreciate seeing the affected areas today and speaking with the responders and volunteers on the ground. I am declaring a state of emergency and we are providing necessary assistance as our communities begin the process of putting their lives back together after a natural disaster."
Upon seeing the affected areas and speaking with emergency personnel, Gov. Heineman has approved a state disaster declaration through Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). An emergency declaration allows state personnel and resources to assist with emergency situations, and allows maximum flexibility to deploy Nebraska National Guard and NEMA resources, as needed.
The declaration notes the series of strong storms that moved across the state yesterday, May 11, have caused wide spread damage. It states that heavy rains and tornados caused extensive damage to homes, businesses and public infrastructure in Clay, Fillmore, Seward, York, Lancaster, Hamilton, Jefferson, Douglas, Sarpy and Saunders counties, and communities located within those counties.
Additionally, 20 Nebraska Army National Guard Soldiers from the 92nd Troop Command are mobilizing to state active duty to assist local emergency management officials in providing public safety support in the affected areas. The National Guard mission is expected to last approximately four to five days.
Three teams of NEMA staff visited southeast Nebraska communities on Monday to work on preliminary damage assessments. NEMA's mobile operation center and a field team was deployed to Beaver Crossing to assist with communications and resource coordination. The Nebraska Resource Accountability Team was deployed to work on volunteer and responder resource tracking.
The Governor was joined by Al Berndt, Assistant Director of NEMA. Governor Heineman met with local responders, residents and volunteers to discuss needed response efforts and state assistance.
"The NEMA teams tracked tornado damage and the storms that were reported by trained spotters on Sunday," said Assistant Director Berndt. "The damage that occurred in southeast Nebraska was significant and we are working with local emergency managers on needs assessments as well as preliminary damage reports."