Sutton Cleans Up; Governor to Declare Disaster Following Tornadoes
By Steve White, Grand Island Bureau Chief - bio | email
Tornado caught on camera by First Alert Storm Chaser Phil Lueking
Violent storms level homes and damage farms, and now neighbors help neighbors in the wake of devastating tornadoes.
At least three homes were destroyed and several businesses suffered extensive damage, but early warning may have saved lives.
Caught on camera by NTV storm chasers, a massive tornado swept through south central Nebraska on Sunday.
Gov. Dave Heineman said, "One citizen told me in Beaver Crossing, I've seen it all the time on TV, but never thought it would hit my house."
Houses, farms, businesses, even Sutton city hall suffered damage.
"My nephew's house north of town being gone, that's the worst," Carey Steinhauer said.
With folks celebrating graduation and Mother's Day, Clay County Emergency Manager Loren Uden sounded the sirens early.
He said, "The skies out there were just, of the knowledge it was going to hit hard somewhere."No one was hurt.
But Uden said Sutton's 1,500 residents are in the dark.It could take a few days to restore power. Power lines and trees are down across the community.
Carey Steinhauer was home when it hit. "This tree cracked, sounded like a gunshot," she said.
Grain bins smashed semis and the roof was ripped from the outbuilding at a farm west of town, but it didn't hit the home right next to it.
Cody Perrien was there on Monday to help clean his grandmother's place.
He said, "No damage to the house, just on N side of house, pieces of this roof are completely wrapped around the tree."
As quickly as it hit, residents like Carey Steinhauer clean up
."It's a community effort, everybody's willing to help each other. That's the blessing of a small town," she said.
The Hastings office of the National Weather Service spent the day assessing the storms. It’s still not clear how many tornadoes hit, and how strong they were.
The governor says the Seward County community of Beaver Crossing was hard hit as well, with damage to nearly every home in that small community.
Heineman toured Sutton, Cordova, and Beaver Crossing on Monday, and said he would declare those areas as disasters.
That allows state dollars to help with some projects.
The governor was quick to point out that residents didn't wait for the government to intervene.
He said, "These challenges, these disasters like this bring Nebraskans out to help friends and neighbors, it's Nebraska at is best, I'm very proud of citizens. I appreciate the local emergency response, and this goes to show the practice we do all the time comes into play in situations like this."
State money could help with the clean up, and with re-building public property.