Storms pound country’s mid-section

Communities begin recovery as severe storms hit communities from Colorado to Maryland

BY BOND BRUNGARD | CORNING, IA | June 7, 2008


A Saturday night fixture in this southwestern Iowa city will again be rained out this weekend.

The Adams County Speedway is a half-mile dirt track that attracts 2,000 spectators on Saturday nights, and its concession stand does as much business on one night than all the restaurants in town do all week, said Corning Mayor Guy Brace. And bad weather this spring has kept the racers in garage bays, and only two races were run this spring.

“It’s a major revenue source in the summer,” said Brace.

Adams County withstood seven inches of rain during a 48-hour period from Wednesday, June 4 through Friday June 6. Water poured over the banks of the Nodaway River, but by Friday morning, Brace said the high water was in retreat.

“The water has started to recede,” he said.

A Red Cross shelter was open here Thursday in this city of 1,783 people, which is the Adams County seat. But no one needed the assistance. Now, said Brace, the cost damages need to be estimated, so officials from Adams County can seek state and federal assistance.

“We’re in the process of putting together the figures,” he said.

It was another busy week in the nation’s mid-section, in which storms raced west from Colorado to the Atlantic Ocean.

As of Saturday morning, more than 7,500 homes and residences were still without power after violent thunderstorms pounded Washington D.C. Wednesday. In Chesapeake Beach, on the bay’s west shore, a tornado battered trees and homes with 85 mph winds. Another tornado was reported in Fairfax County, VA. And there were reports of others in southern Maryland.

While tornadoes are not uncommon along the eastern seaboard, they are especially worrisome when they strike near population centers like Washington, D.C.

But tornadoes have hardly been news to the nation’s heartland this spring. In Kearney, NE., a tornado pummeled this community May 29, causing millions of dollars worth of damage. There were no deaths and injuries and that’s being credited to the city’s early warning system, which sounded as a cell moved through the city.

A private hangar collapsed at the Kearney Regional Airport, damaging an $11 million Cessna Citation jet. Gov. Dave Heinemen then declared a state of emergency, and now the damages are being calculated.

“We’re doing damage assessments,” said Christin Kamm, the public information officer for Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, “and they will be doing the recovery for the next several months.”

A line of storms made their Thursday through Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa, spawning several tornadoes in Kansas. Nearly 50,000 homes and businesses were still without power Friday in Oklahoma due to high winds.

In Trego County, KS, a pair of elephants from a traveling circus had to be herded back to the show after they seemingly became spooked by storms that crossed through the state Thursday. They, too, stormed through the community of Wakeeney.

One was tranquilized, so it could rejoin the circus, and the other was prodded into a truck after being found in a backyard about a mile from the Trego County Fairgrounds.

On Wednesday, June 4, a tornado hit Moscow in central Indiana and destroyed a covered bridge. The top floor and the roof were also torn off of a old school house. And during a 24-hour period, about five inches of rain fell on this area, about 35 miles southeast of Indianapolis.


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