Nebraska governor declares emergency in wake of blizzard - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Nebraska governor declares emergency in wake of blizzard

Posted:
Courtesy: NSP Courtesy: NSP
LINCOLN, NE (AP) -

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts has issued an emergency declaration to allow state funds to be used for the response to a spring blizzard that has swept most of the state.
   
Ricketts issued the declaration Saturday morning. His office says the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency is working to get a temporary communications tower to an area of north-central Nebraska after its dispatch tower was toppled in 60 mph winds. Blaine, Garfield, Greeley, Loup, Sherman, Thomas, Valley and Wheeler counties are affected by the loss of the tower.
   
The blizzard, which hit Friday, led to road closures and left scores of motorists stranded. Big Springs and Sidney in western Nebraska have opened shelters for those stranded.

Blizzard conditions caused major problems for drivers in Western Nebraska Friday, leaving many stranded on Interstate 80 and other highways.

Troopers with the Nebraska State Patrol, working with the Cheyenne County Sheriff’s Office, Sidney Police Department, Sidney Public Schools, Cheyenne County Emergency Management, the Nebraska Department of Transportation, and others, worked to clear all of the stranded vehicles. In total, more than 100 motorists were rescued.

There were two major areas where vehicles had become trapped on I-80 near Sidney. One section was more than a mile and a half long and the other section was estimated to have at least 50 vehicles. Sidney Public Schools offered buses to assist in the rescue, which were escorted to the scene by patrol vehicles and snow plows.

The assembled law enforcement officers went door to door, knocking on all vehicles and rescuing all of the occupants in freezing temperatures. The rescued motorists were taken to Light Memorial Presbyterian Church in Sidney or to a hotel of their choice.

In addition to the large-scale rescues, troopers have responded to more than 80 motorist assist calls during the storm. Stranded drivers are reminded to call *55 to reach the NSP Highway Helpline.

There has been one confirmed fatality accident in the area. The fatality was a result of a crash involving two semis in the median of Interstate 80 near mile marker 84. Rollo Ward, 61, of Idaho Falls, ID, was pronounced deceased at the scene after the semi he was driving eastbound lost control, entered the median, and struck a semi that had previously become stranded.

State Emergency Management Assistant Director Bryan Tuma urged residents to stay off the roads, many of which were still unsafe for travel Saturday.

Road conditions remain poor to impassible in many parts of central to western Nebraska. At this time, Interstate 80 is closed to westbound traffic from Grand Island to the Wyoming state line. Eastbound I-80 is closed from the Wyoming state line to Ogallala. Keep up-to-date on other road closures by calling 511 and by visiting 511.Nebraska.gov

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