(Neb)-Gov Declares Blizzard Emergency, I-80 Still Closed In Panhandle
LINCOLN – This morning, Governor Pete Ricketts issued an emergency declaration to allow state funds to be used for the response to the blizzard which affected Nebraskans statewide yesterday and continuing into this morning.
“Hundreds of motorists have been stranded and power outages are reported in many communities,” said Governor Ricketts. “This declaration allows state funds from the Governor’s Emergency Fund to help our communities in their response.”
Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is working to get a temporary communications tower to Region 26 after its dispatch tower was toppled due to 60 mph winds. Blaine, Garfield, Greeley, Loup, Sherman, Thomas, Valley, and Wheeler counties make up Region 26 and are affected by the loss.
Road closures, including Interstate 80 and U.S. Highways 30 and 20, have affected travelers and sent them to shelters. Big Springs and Sidney report that they have opened shelters.
“Road conditions are still not safe across the state and travel is not recommended,” said NEMA Assistant Director Bryan Tuma around mid-morning. “Stay home and be safe.”
As of 12:30, road conditions remained poor to impassible in many parts of central to western Nebraska, but all Panhandle highways are open except Interstate 80.
It was still closed to westbound traffic from Grand Island to the Wyoming state line and eastbound from the state line to Ogallala. Keep up-to-date on other road closures by calling 511, visiting 511.Nebraska.gov, or by downloading the 511 smartphone app.
The Nebraska State Patrol says at least one person was killed yesterday and scores of stranded drivers were rescued in western Nebraska as the blizzard left more than 100 drivers stranded on I-80 and other highways.
The State Patrol says 61-year-old Rollo Ward of Idaho Falls, Idaho, was driving a semi on Interstate 80 when he lost control on the snow-covered roadway and hit another semi already stranded in the blizzard near Chappell. Ward died at the scene
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