The storm was a monster. Blowing through Central Nebraska with peak winds of 87 mph, it left a streak of damage through Cairo, Grand Island, Doniphan and elsewhere.
Gigantic trees were completely uprooted. Other trees split in half. Large limbs dropped and sticks littered streets and yards.
That wasn’t all. Falling trees took power lines down with them. Much of Grand Island, Doniphan and Cairo lost electricity. That meant no air conditioning during a humid time.
Tragically, a Cairo man was killed when he drove into a downed tree right about the time of the storm. Still, the area was lucky that there weren’t more deaths or injuries.
It wasn’t a tornado, but it was still a remarkably strong storm. The strongest, most damaging storm Hall County has seen in 30 years, some said.
Just as remarkable, though, has been the response.
City and county crews quickly went out and cleared trees and debris from roads. Utility workers from Grand Island and Southern Public Power District got out as soon as it was safe and started repairing lines.
What also was amazing was how fast residents began cleaning up. Even Wednesday morning, as soon as daylight revealed the damage, people were out clearing the debris from their yards and neighborhoods.
Neighbors helped neighbors. Northwest High School football players and their coaches went out and helped people clean up. Youth groups from a number of churches and other organizations also lent a hand, helping the elderly and others who needed assistance.
One might say it was a team — or community — effort.
The city of Grand Island made a smart move by opening sites for people to dump debris throughout town. It was assisted by the Grand Island school district, Abundant Life Church and businesses along South Locust who allowed tree limbs to be dumped on their property as the city’s site at the transfer station was overwhelmed. This aided and sped up the cleanup tremendously.
Hall County crews helped county residents dispose of tree debris as well.
City workers also immediately went to work clearing the broken limbs in city parks. Many limbs hung precariously, posing a danger to people walking below them. Parks suffered extensive damage and the storm will leave a scar on some areas as trees will be missing.
Rural areas also felt the impact. Crops and irrigation pivots were damaged.
Law enforcement and fire crews and other emergency workers deserve much thanks. They responded to hundreds of calls during and after the storm, making sure people were safe.
That was the key. People made sure that neighbors, friends and family were safe.
The storm was devastating, but the response has been remarkable.