Photo Aug 07, 7 03 10 AM

Grand Island residents woke up to the sounds of sirens going off around 3 a.m. as a severe thunderstorm hit Grand Island with strong winds and heavy rain.

According to the Hall County Emergency Management, heavy rains, hail and winds of up to 87 miles per hour struck overnight in Central Nebraska, including Grand Island and all of Hall County.

Shortly after the storm, the strong winds that hit the city from the storm caused the Grand Island Police Department to tell people to stay home because of the dangerous situation that the aftermath of the storm caused in Grand Island.

The Hall County Sheriff’s Department reported that one person was killed when the driver ran into a downed tree at Airport Road and Burwick at about 3:30 a.m.

Capt. Jim Duering of the Grand Island Police Department said Grand Island was littered with downed trees and tree limbs after the storm.

As of 8 a.m., Duering said, “A lot of the city is still struggling with power as they try to restore power. We are getting some fire calls for tree limbs that are catching on fire as they short across. That has taken up a lot of our time.”

He said the police, fire department, utility department and the Hall County Sheriff’s office had taken more than 350 calls as a result of the storm.

“The tree crews are out cleaning as much stuff out of the way as they can,” Duering said.

He said the storm debris was cleared from the main thoroughfares in the city and crews were busy getting to the many fallen trees and limbs that were blocking residential streets.

“ The biggest one for us right now are the accidents,” Duering said. ”People running into downed objects or running into other cars avoiding downed objects.

“We still have a lot of stop lights that are inoperable or just flashing that has caused us some accidents.”

The police reported around 9 a.m. that power has been mostly restored in G.I. Most traffic lights were functioning normally. They were advising motorists that traffic lights that were not operational were to be treated it as a four-way stop. Most major thoroughfare’s have had branches removed from them, but urged caution when driving around town.

More than 2 inches of rain fell from the storm in a short time causing flooding throughout Grand Island. Duering reported that two cars were trapped in the Eddy Street underpass.

He said after the storm, “At one point and time there were no streets that were not affected in some shape, way or form by downed trees, tree limbs, stop lights or traffic accidents.”

Duering said none of the traffic accidents were serious.

“Utilities were just pushing trees and limbs out of the way as they did not have the time or manpower to remove them,” he said.

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