Storms cause significant damage across Nebraska, Iowa

OMAHA, Neb. – Residents of eastern Nebraska and western Iowa started cleaning up damage Wednesday caused by baseball-sized hail and winds as strong as 91 mph.

Tuesday’s storms caused extensive damage in Blair, Fort Calhoun, Uehling and Craig, Nebraska, and in the western Iowa town of Missouri Valley.

The damage total wasn’t immediately clear, but it’s likely to be sizeable. Officials estimate that the courthouse alone in Blair sustained more than $1.2 million in damage because the rain continued for hours after hail shattered windows and skylights.

Emergency Manager Bill Pook said the Washington County sheriff’s office also sustained $600,000 to $700,000 damage to its vehicles and offices.

Pook said hundreds of cars and hundreds of homes were damaged in Blair. And that doesn’t include the more than 4,000 damaged vehicles on Woodhouse car dealership lots in Blair and Missouri Valley.

Nearly every home in Blair and any vehicles parked outside sustained damage. Paramedics took 13 people from Blair’s Walmart to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries sustained while trying to cross the parking lot in the hail, but those were the only injuries linked to the storms.

The storms drenched the area as they moved through Tuesday evening. Omaha set a record for the day with 5.3 inches of rain, Blair reported 3.8 inches and several other Nebraska cities received more than 2 inches.

In Iowa, the town of Lamoni received 5.65 inches of rain, Corning and Bedford received more than 4 inches and five other towns received more than 3 inches of rain.

Blair resident Bill Thomas said it was awful sitting in his basement of his home across the street from the courthouse during the storm and listening to hailstones smash through windows upstairs over and over again.