Several tornadoes touch down in Omaha metro area. Here’s where aid is available. Live updates here

The Omaha World-Herald has made this article free to readers as we all assess the impact of the punishing spring storms. Please support our work by subscribing to The World-Herald.

Below are Friday’s live updates of storm damage after several tornadoes ravaged parts of the Omaha metro area.

For Saturday’s live updates on the cleanup and aftermath, go here.

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‘It’s hard’: Tornadoes tear through Bennington

After venting its fury on Elkhorn, the storm headed north and cut a swath through the rolling hills southwest of Bennington.

Jeannie Brown never saw the tornado before it tore through the yard of her hilltop home on 186th Street just north of State Street.

“I was in the basement because I heard it was going to hit Waterloo and Elkhorn. Then we lost power. We had a lot of wind. We came upstairs to this,” she said, waving her hand toward her yard. “All of our trees are gone.”

Her brick home was intact, at least, though it was splattered with mud. Some siding was gone and windows were broken. The street in front of her house was blocked with broken trees.

“I’ve lived here my whole life, and I’ve never been through anything like this,” she said. “We didn’t lose anything you can’t replace.”

About a mile to the northeast, the storm caused widespread damage at Woodlands Crossing near 180th and Military Road.

Enoch Nda was standing in the front yard of his parents’ home on 182nd Circle. He knew the storm was coming, but it still shocked him when he saw funnels in the southwestern sky.

“We went down to the shelter. We heard a lot of rumbling, and we saw the windows were broken,” he said. “When we came back out, the roof was gone, everything else was gone — the living room, everything else was shredded.”

As Nda walked up and down the cul-de-sac, he realized his family wasn’t alone.

“Everyone’s house is damaged in some way — roofing, pools, poolhouses — everything is gone. My sister’s car is flipped over, in the ditch.”

A block away, on Thayer Street, Kellie Backlund surveyed the wreckage of their two story home.

From their back deck, they had a clear view of the approaching storm.

“We could actually see it forming over there,” she said, pointing southwest. Backlund, her husband, and three kids — from college age to middle school – huddled in a basement bathroom.

“We felt safe down there, but we could hear everything going on,” she said.

The storm lasted about five minutes.

“When we came out, the whole back of the house was gone,” Backlund said.

The family was packing a few belongings, trying to figure out where to go next.

“We don’t really know the plans. It’s going to take a few minutes to sink in,” she said. “Eight years we’ve been here. It’s hard. “I don’t know where you go from here.”

“When you hear the warnings, you always shelter, but you don’t think it’s actually going to happen to you,” Backlund added. “This time it did.”

— Steve Liewer

Woman relives frightful flight landing

Toccara Steele was still shaking Friday night.

“It was scary as I don’t know what,” the Omaha woman said. “I’m still pacing.”

She and work colleagues Whitney Anderson, Suzalyn Bittner and Jessica Welstead were in a plane sitting at Eppley Airfield when they looked outside their windows and saw a tornado touch down a short distance away.

It was a shock. Steele said she had just glanced out and saw that it had stopped raining. The sun had appeared.

“The next minute it was a thunderstorm with lightning and hail bouncing off the plane,” she said. “The plane was rocking back and forth. It was absolutely crazy. That is when we saw the tornado.”

The plane had landed about 4:45 but didn’t pull up to the terminal until about 6 because of the storm.

Steele said passengers knew something was going on with the weather because their phones started sounding off with storm alerts after the United Airlines flight from Denver landed. They had started the day in Los Angeles.

Steele said people were checking in with family and friends about what was happening outside.

“It feels like an out-of-body experience,” she said.

— Marjie Ducey

Eppley reopens

Aircraft operations have resumed at Eppley Airfield.

The Omaha Airport Authority had closed Nebraska’s largest airport after a tornado touched down on the grounds at 5:08 p.m. Friday. Passengers inside the terminal building at the time of the tornado were taken to storm shelters for safety.

Damage occurred to many buildings in the general aviation area on the east side of the airport. Significant debris at one hangar could be observed around 6 p.m. while another hangar’s roof was damaged.

Passengers whose flights have been affected by the storm should check with their airlines for updates.

Eppley reopened to aircraft operations at 5:59 p.m.

— Dan Crisler

Don Bacon examines disaster

Nebraska U.S. Representative Don Bacon says he has seen devastation before but nothing like this in the Omaha area. At least 100 to 200 homes have been destroyed from what he has seen.

He says there are no reported fatalities so far, but that doesn’t mean that there will be no fatalities.

Bacon expects a massive outpouring from Nebraskans like during the floods.

Bacon says he’s already in talks with FEMA and coordinating with the White House, expecting it to be declared an emergency of some kind.

— Mike Bell

Gov. Pillen’s response

Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen said he and his administration are working with local officials, emergency management directors and law enforcement leaders in the aftermath of Friday’s severe thunderstorms and tornadoes that tore through eastern Nebraska.

“I have ordered that state resources be made available to assist with the emergency response and to support local first responders as they assess the damage,” Pillen said in a statement. “Nebraskans are tough, resilient people, and our neighbors and communities will rally around affected families and businesses to assist them. Nebraskans are no strangers to severe weather and, as they have countless times before, Nebraskans will help Nebraskans to rebuild.”

Pillen’s office said people in affected areas should avoid downed powerlines and follow all law enforcement directives as work continues to assess the damage.

— Paul Goodsell

People asked to stay away from Elkhorn and Waterloo area

6:45 p.m. Douglas County Emergency Communications Department asked people to stay out of the Elkhorn and Waterloo area “for your and everyone else safety.”

The county also said: “We would like to thank people for their urgency to help, but NO volunteers are needed at this time to assist first responders in @DouglasCountyNE. We will let the public know when volunteers are needed and where they should go.”

Council Bluffs car wash destroyed

While the devastation was nowhere near what the northwestern Omaha metro area saw, residents of Council Bluffs were picking up the pieces Friday evening after a tornado moved through the area near Eppley Airfield.

Gerald Kruger, who lives near 35th and D, said he heard the strong winds blow through the neighborhood that pushed a roof off of a car wash and onto two cars in the middle of Avenue A near 35th Street.

“All of a sudden, the wind picked up really fast, right between the houses and stuff,” he said.

Power was out in the neighborhood just north of West Broadway as of 7 p.m.

At the Featherstone Apartments just south of I-29, several residents said they would be displaced after the roofs of multiple apartment buildings either caved in or blew off. A large pile of debris sat between the apartments as well as several downed tree limbs.

A woman who lives in the complex said she and her young son were trying to figure out where they were going to stay.

“I just know a tornado came through and now my roof is gone,” she said.

— Luna Stephens

7 tornadoes touched down across metro

Matt Holiner, Omaha World-Herald meteorologist, said preliminarily, at least seven tornadoes hit near Omaha, Lincoln and western Iowa.

“There’s a good chance that number may increase after the surveys though,” he said. He said a tornado may have touched down, lifted and touched down again making an early count difficult.

400 shelter at Waverly’s Spring Affair

More than 400 shoppers were forced to shelter for nearly two hours at the Spring Affair Plant Sale on Friday by the outbreak of tornadoes in the Waverly area.

The sale is being held at the Sandhills Global Event Center at 4100 N. 84th Streets.

Tornadoes were spotted a quarter mile or less around the center.

“It was close. We were very lucky here,” said Michelle DeRusha of the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, which holds the yearly sale. “There were a lot of people in the event center and just coming in for the sale.”

The sale was supposed to start at 2 p.m. and she said people were lined up outside the building. They were ushered inside when staff received storm alerts on their phones. The shelters are the restrooms in the large facility. Some people also used horse stalls at the center.

People were given the all clear to leave the shelters in the building around 3:30 p.m.

— Marjie Ducey

Where to find aid

Here is where the Red Cross has opened shelters to provide aid:

Common Ground Community Center, 1701 Veterans Dr, Elkhorn, NE 68022

First Lutheran Church, 2146 Wright St, Blair, NE 68008

Local church providing aid

Brookside Church has power, water and food for those that need it.

The address is 11607 M Cir, Omaha.

Lost Pets of Omaha helping round up pets

Lost Pets of Omaha Area is volunteering to help people in the path of the tornadoes round up their pets.

The group said it has experienced volunteers, safe traps and pet supplies.

“We will also reach out to trustworthy people if you need a temporary spot for your pets,” the group said on Facebook. “Anything we help with is at no cost. We are heartbroken for anyone dealing with damage from today’s storm. Don’t hesitate to contact us.”

Felius, a rescue group, is also volunteering to help people who need shelter for their cats.

“Temporary boarding up to 72 hours,” said board member Eryn Swan. “If people need more time after that, it’s on a case by case basis.”

If you find a displaced cat, Felius may also be able to assist. Several foster people have volunteered to help.

Reunification center in Elkhorn established

A reunification center is being established at Elkhorn Middle School located at 3200 N 207th street for parents who need to pick up their children after several area schools were in lockdown during the tornado warnings.

Where to submit a damage report

Douglas County has asked residents that have suffered damage to their homes to call 2-1-1 or go online at http://dogis.org/211 to make a report.

Eppley Airfield closed

5:37 p.m.: Eppley Airfield has been closed after the tornado touched down, Omaha Airport Authority Chief Information Officer Steve McCoy said. Some damage occurred the east side of the airfield where the general aviation area is.

“We’re still doing damage assessment,” McCoy said. “The terminal is relatively unaffected. But the airport is closed while we do damage assessment. We hope to reopen soon.”

— Dan Crisler

Children trapped in schools

Kim Armstrong said her two sons are still waiting to be released from Washington Elementary School at 5:25.

“They have been sending emails pretty regularly that they have engaged their standard response protocol shelter status,” Armstrong said of the school at 5519 Mayberry..

Several parents are texting each other with information.

“I heard they are watching the movie Ice Age and that they watched Wild Kratts earlier,” she said. “They are hunkering down in the basement and hanging out. She said everyone is in a good mood.

Armstrong said there has been no news about when the children will be released.

UPDATE: The children were released by the school at 5:45 p.m.

— Marjie Ducey

Reports of damaged homes in Bennington

Bennington resident Sharon Childers said she sees police all over the area.

“I just say a prayer for whoever got hurt,” she said.

Childers sees police to the west on 180th and Military. There is police at the Newport Landing neighborhood.

She can see houses without roofs from her front porch near 180th and Bennington Road.

“I am still scared,” she said.

— Marjie Ducey

Several tornadoes hit Omaha metro area

5:30 p.m.: Road closed signs have been installed at West Maple Road and 204th Street. Street flooding has been observed near 42nd and Dodge Streets.

5:24 p.m.: Red Cross is setting up at Arbor View Elementary in Elkhorn, 5115 N 208th St., for aid.

5:15 p.m.: Douglas County Emergency Management is working to compile a report of storm damage. They’re asking people who have suffered damage to their home to call 2-1-1 or go online at dogis.org/211 to make a report.

5:14 p.m.: Eppley Airfield announced via X that it was currently closed “due to storm activity” and to “expect airline delays.”

5 p.m.: Tornado touched down near Eppley Airfield leaving behind major damage.

4:45 p.m.: Funnel cloud spotted along Highway 370 in Papillion, tracking east of Interstate 680 towards downtown Omaha. Downtown and south Omaha residents take shelter now!

4:36 p.m.: First responders are reporting major damage in Washington County, with houses destroyed. Small hail began in parts of west Omaha.

4:30 p.m.: There are reports of major damage, including houses knocked down, in Elkhorn. According to emergency scanner reports, there were people trapped in basements and possibly 20 houses destroyed. Authorities are setting up a command post in Elkhorn. Stopping north and westbound traffic at 204th Street and Maple Road.

4:10 p.m.: As Lincoln and Waverly residents continued to post their videos of a large tornado that landed hours earlier, western Douglas County residents began to see the storm that rolled through their part of town. Downed trees and other natural debris littered roads as rain pelted areas around the Elkhorn water tower.

Tornado warning issued for western Douglas County and Sarpy County

3:37 p.m.: National Weather Service reports: “A tornado remains on the ground southwest of Elkhorn, moving into the western Omaha metro area. Seek shelter now!”

3:25 p.m.: Per BNSF, a tornado struck a train between Waverly and Lincoln, Nebraska, causing multiple cars to derail.

There were no injuries to the crew and no hazmat was released. BNSF personnel are on site working to clear the incident as safely as possible.

3:08 p.m.: A tornado has now been observed near the Sarpy County communities of Papillion and La Vista as well as Chalco.

Softball-sized hail is possible with this tornado. The warning has been issued until 3:45 p.m.

The communities are part of the Omaha metro area.

Sirens were heard in downtown Omaha just before 3:15 p.m.

Tornado warning issued for Lincoln

2:57 p.m.: Tornado warnings have been issued for David City, Brainard and Bruno and Cedar Rapids.

The David City, Brainard and Bruno tornado has been observed, according to the weather service, and is carrying quarter-sized hail. The Cedar Rapids tornado has ping-pong sized hail.

A tornado has touched the ground near Waverly. It’s moving northeast.

2:35 p.m.: A tornado warning has been issued for Lincoln.

The tornado was radar-indicated, according to the National Weather Service in Valley. Ping-pong sized hail is possible. A funnel cloud has been captured in photos posted on social media.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has advised those on campus to move to the lowest areas of its buildings and stay away from windows.

The tornado warning is set to expire at 3:15 p.m. The warning covers nearly 225,000 people, including Waverly.

Multiple tornado warnings issued

2:10 p.m.: Nearly 50,000 people are under a new tornado warning issued by the National Weather Service.

The tornado was observed on radar in an area that includes the Saunders County communities of Ceresco and Valparaiso as well as the Lancaster County community of Malcolm. The warning largely covers areas north and west of Lincoln.

Golf ball sized hail is possible. The tornado warning is set to expire at 3 p.m.

2 p.m.: Multiple tornado warnings have now been issued.

One tornado was observed near the north-central Nebraska town of Primrose. Another tornado was observed on radar in southeast Nebraska near the Seward County communities of Staplehurst, Goehner and the previously mentioned Beaver Crossing.

Both tornado warnings are set to expire at 2:45 p.m.

1:48 p.m.: A tornado warning has been issued until 2 p.m. for an area of southeast Nebraska including the communities of Friend in Saline County and Beaver Crossing in Seward County.

The tornado was radar-indicated, according to a post on X from the National Weather Service. Pea-sized hail is possible. The warning area covers just over 1,800 residents.

Severe thunderstorm issued for southeast Nebraska communities

2:50 p.m. The National Weather Service has extended a severe thunderstorm warning for the Butler County communities of Ulysses and Garrison until 3:30 p.m.

Winds are expected to gust up to 60 miles per hour and golf ball-sized hail is expected to fall. About 667 people are under the thunderstorm warning.

1:31 p.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the southeast Nebraska communities of Crete, Wilbur and De Witt. Radar shows that line of storms moving northeast toward Lincoln and Omaha.

Tornado watch issued for Omaha metro

1:20 p.m.: The National Weather Service in Valley has issued a tornado watch until 7 p.m. for all of central and eastern Nebraska including Omaha, Lincoln and Grand Island. The tornado watch extends into western Iowa, northeast Kansas and northwest Missouri.

The weather service added severe storms are developing in southeast Nebraska.

The Omaha area could see storms, which hold the possibility of hail, damaging winds and even tornadoes, hit the area later this afternoon. Severe thunderstorm warnings have already been issued today in places like Milford west of Lincoln and Fairbury in southeast Nebraska.

In anticipation of the severe weather, the Council Bluffs Community School District has canceled after afterschool clubs and practices for Friday.

Stay tuned for more live updates

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