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Nebraska declares disaster for areas hit by Dec. 15 storm

Damage near 70th and Leavenworth after a powerful wind storm hit the Omaha-metro area on Dec....
Damage near 70th and Leavenworth after a powerful wind storm hit the Omaha-metro area on Dec. 15, 2021.(Brian Mastre / WOWT)
Published: Dec. 29, 2021 at 6:08 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - The state has proclaimed the Dec. 15 storm a disaster, allowing use of the governor’s emergency funds to cover damages Nebraskans sustained as a result of the windstorm that spawned dozens of tornados and left thousands without power.

Lt. Gov. Mike Foley issued the proclamation Wednesday “at the direction of Governor Ricketts,” which allows the state to request a federal disaster be proclaimed in order to release further public assistance.

“The State of Nebraska and local agencies continue to conduct damage assessments. Once sufficient information is gathered, a request for Federal Public Assistance will be sent to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regional office, then to FEMA headquarters, and finally to the White House for review and approval,” Foley said in a news release from the office of Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Nebraska Emergency Management Assistant Director Erv Portis said the weather event likely wouldn’t qualify for individual assistance from FEMA, which is usually triggered by widespread and prolonged loss of services due to an extreme-level event; rather, he said he expected it to hit the threshold for FEMA public assistance.

“While this storm came through very fast, it hit a number of communities and public power districts hard. With this proclamation, and hopefully a federal declaration, we can expedite the recovery process,” Portis said in the release. “On this event, Nebraska would qualify for the FEMA Public Assistance program but not the FEMA Individual Assistance program. Individual assistance is based on extreme impact, such as widespread loss of housing for individuals and families, loss of employment, loss of services across multiple sectors which results in extreme hardship, etc. This event, while significant, does not meet those thresholds.”

NEED HELP? Anyone who is still in need of assistance help getting trees removed, cleaning up property damage, replacing spoiled food, or any other storm-related needs, is advised to contact United Way’s 211 system by calling 211 or texting your ZIP code to 898211. Rural residents can also call the Nebraska Rural Response Hotline at 1-800-464-0258 for the same services.

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