City of Lincoln
2004 Media Releases
Mayor Coleen J. Seng today praised the efforts of emergency crews who responded to the tornados and storm damage in Hallam and southern Lancaster County Saturday night. She said the City of Lincoln is prepared to provide further assistance to Hallam and the County as the clean-up continues.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with our neighbors to the south as they deal with the devastating aftermath of this weekend’s storms," said Mayor Seng. "The City of Lincoln is making every effort to provide assistance with safety, health and clean-up issues."
Mayor Seng discouraged Lincoln residents from traveling to the affected areas to view the damage.
"It is important that people stay out of the damage areas to allow officials to do their jobs," Seng said. "The need for volunteers will come, but until they are ready, the best action would be to make a contribution to the relief agencies that are working there now."
The City Parks and Recreation Department is working with the Volunteer Partners organization and the County Emergency Operations Center to organize volunteer efforts. An orientation meeting for those who wish to volunteer is from 7 to 10 p.m. tonight at the "F" Street Community Center, 1225 "F’ Street.
The Lincoln Police Department (LPD) deployed 27 employees to help Saturday night. Twenty officers led by a police captain and sergeant went to Hallam to assist the Sheriff’s Office, the Nebraska State Patrol and volunteer fire departments in securing the community and searching for those injured. The LPD SWAT bus helped transport victims to the emergency shelter at Lincoln Southwest High School. In addition, three LPD police officers were sent to the school and two officers to Bryan/LGH West to provide security and victim assistance. Two more Lincoln police officers were sent to damaged Norris High School to provide security until the National Guard arrived. On Sunday, six LPD police officers worked with Sheriff’s deputies to search rural areas for possible victims.
Saturday night, Lincoln Fire and Rescue dispatched three ambulances and team of 20 to Hallam to treat and transport patients and assist in organizing search and rescue operations. The department has ten search and rescue staff there today, including a medic unit, structural specialists and safety officers.
Lincoln Electric System (LES), which owns a portion of the Hallam power plant, reported the storm damaged about 20 power poles from the plant to the area of 20th and Pioneers. Twelve LES crew members assisted Norris Public Power with clean-up and power restoration Sunday, and nine LES employees are assisting this week. LES said the City had about five small outages during the storms, and service was restored quickly.
The City’s 911 Emergency Communications Center provided communications support at the command post in Hallam Saturday night and Sunday morning. The radio shop also provided a technician in Hallam and will continue to do so as long as needed. The 911 Center in Lincoln was fully staffed Saturday night, and a dispatcher also was posted at the Emergency Operations Center.
The City of Lincoln Finance Director Don Herz said he has contacted Lancaster County officials to offer technical assistance in submitting federal claims, expertise gained in the aftermath of the October 1997 snow storm in Lincoln.
The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department has about six staff members in Hallam today providing tetanus shots. Health Director Bruce Dart is in Hallam, and he said the department is ready to assist with any hazardous material incidents. In storm-damaged communities outside of Hallam, Health Department employees are going door-to door to provide food safety information and water testing to those who were without power.
The City Public Works and Utilities Department assisted the County in closing roads Saturday night and provided StarTran buses to transport Hallam residents out of the damaged area. Director Allan Abbott said the department is offering equipment to assist in the clean-up in areas outside the City limits.
The City Parks and Recreation Department provided four utility vehicles to Hallam Sunday to help residents salvage their belongings. Parks and Recreation Director Lynn Johnson said the department has offered forestry staff, log loaders, wood chippers and trucks to help with tree and debris clean-up as needed.
Mayor Seng issued a caution to those who will need to make repairs to their homes to check references of contractors soliciting business and consult the Better Business Bureau to avoid being the victim of con artists who have been known to prey on storm victims. She said she has spoken with the Home Builders Association of Lincoln (HBAL), which is compiling a list of HBAL members for those wanting to contact a reputable company. The list is available by calling HBAL at 423-4225.
Mike Merwick, the Director of the City Building and Safety Department, said the department is ready to provide building inspectors as needed.