Top state officials coming to Panhandle to assess storm damage - Scottsbluff Area News, Sports, and Weather

Top state officials coming to Panhandle to assess storm damage

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Lieutenant Governor Lavon Heidemann and Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Assistant Director Al Berndt and will be traveling to the state's panhandle region today to continue work with local officials on recovery issues.

"The damaged suffered in our communities as a result of the severe winter storm and tornadoes is extensive," said Gov. Dave Heineman. "I have asked the Lt. Governor to be on the ground in the Chadron area to see damage first-hand. Nebraska Emergency Management Agency and other state agencies are working diligently to assess the situation and support local efforts. My thoughts are with the Nebraska families affected by the severe storms we have recently experienced throughout the state."

The Lt. Governor and Berndt will be touring areas affected by the severe winter storm that hit the area this past weekend. The Lt. Governor and Berndt will start the morning in Chadron to meet with local officials.  Further details of the day and the tour are being finalized.

Throughout the weekend, the state's Emergency Operations Center has been operational and closely coordinating with local emergency responders. Specifically, NEMA has been in close contact with the Region 23 Emergency Manager, Nan Gould. Region 23 encompasses Sioux, Dawes, Box Butte and Sheridan Counties.

According to Gould, local emergency workers are instituting clean-up of heavy debris caused by downed trees and power lines. Preliminary assessment shows heavy tree damage along the Highway 20 corridor from Rushville to Harrison, especially in the communities of Chadron and Crawford.

Additionally, there are initial reports throughout the area from local ranchers of heavy cattle loss due to the freezing conditions of the severe storm. There are no confirmed numbers on cattle loss at this point. The Nebraska Department of Agriculture and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality are working with NEMA on this situation. The Department of Agriculture is asking Nebraska producers who suffered livestock losses to keep detailed records of those losses as they begin to assess the damage from the weekend.

Gov. Heineman has issued an emergency declaration that encompasses the tornadoes and severe storms that have caused broad damage throughout the state. Gov. Heineman toured the tornado damage in Wayne this past weekend.

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