broken tree

A tree next to a house at Third Street and Bellevue Avenue was destroyed by wind early Friday morning, June 21.

Winds bordering on severe pushed a series of thunderstorms through Tribland early this morning, uprooting trees and scattering large broken tree branches across streets and driveways while leaving more than 3,400 residents of Hastings without power for a brief time.

The initial straight-line storm initially affected Kenesaw shortly before arriving in Hastings at about 1 a.m., producing wind gusts of 62 mph that nearly prompted the sounding of emergency sirens in its wake, said Ron Pughes, Adams County emergency manager. It essentially stayed intact as it moved through Clay Center, Harvard and on east toward Lincoln and Sarpy County. There were no injuries or tornadoes reported, and power was restored quickly by utility crews to all but about 150-200 customers by early this morning.

“It was pretty bad,” Pughes said. “Nighttime storms are always the most dangerous because people are sleeping and not aware of what’s happening. A lot of times they don’t realize the storm passed through until they wake up and go outside in the morning. We were close to sounding the sirens, but our policy on winds is 70 mph and it never quite hit that. Mostly there was a lot of tree damage.

“I haven’t had any direct reports, but from driving around and checking out the area, a lot of large branches were down. A home south of 12th and Burlington had a tree down that caused minor damage to the residence, but we didn’t have any rescues or trapped people. There were a lot of sparking and smoldering wires and a lot of downed wires, including a downed live wire across Highway 6 and Adams Central. Southern Power and Hastings Utilities did a great job getting out there and getting the power restored.”

A large tree was downed near New Hope Baptist Church at 1204 W. Fifth St.

tree damage

A tree broken in Friday morning's windstorm stands near New Hope Baptist Church at Fifth Street and Saunders Avenue Friday morning, June 21, 2019.

It was the third three the congregation has lost in its 11 years at the building, including one in a similar storm on June 14, 2014.   

Eddie Goff, pastor at New Hope Baptist Church, lives in east Hastings where he said there are a lot of downed trees.

“There’s trees down all over town,” he said. “So far it looks like there hasn’t been a lot of property damage, just tree damage.”

He was waiting Friday morning to find out if the downed tree near the church, just south of Sixth Street on Briggs Avenue, was on church property or the city terrace, and then would get bids to take the tree completely out.

He wasn’t sure exactly how long that would take.

“It depends on how busy everybody is right now with tree trimming,” he said with a chuckle. “Right now everybody’s got something going on.”

Dave Ptak, city administrator, said this morning that the city landfill will be open for free tree limb disposal for all Hastings residents through June 29 during

normal operating hours of 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Commercial-type services are exempt from the service as it is included in their landfill fees, he said.

Area parks, including Heartwell and Chautauqua, were littered with broken tree branches and uprooted trees this morning, but the more immediate priority of city street crews is clearing roads for traffic, Ptak said.

“Obviously our main priority is to get the streets open for traffic and emergency services,” he said. “Park cleanup probably won’t begin until early next week.”

Residents experiencing blocked driveways or streets may call the Street Department for assistance at 402-461-2341, or the Parks and Recreation Department at 402-461-2324.

Rainfall was less than an inch during the storms, with .93 inches reported at the National Weather Service in Hastings and .77 inches at Hastings Regional Airport, said Jordan Thies, NWS meteorologist.  “There were some strong wind gusts just below severe,” Thies said this morning. “The criteria for severe is 58 mph, and we had 55 mph winds. There were several reports of tree damage and power lines down across the city. To sum it up, the two lines of thunderstorms were producing high winds in excess of 50 mph, generally in the 50-60 mph range, that resulted in wind damage across the area.”

Ptak noted that initial reports suggest the areas hardest hit in Hastings seemed to be south of 18th Street on the east to west side of town.

“That’s where our efforts will be focused as a first priority,” he said. “Driving on Burlington past 12th Street going south, I was surprised by the number of trees and limbs that were down. I don’t know if all the rain had an impact, but a number of trees appeared to break right off at the ground.”

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