Otoe Survives Second Easter Tornado

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OTOE – Over 100 years after an Easter Day tornado destroyed all but the resilience of Otoe, Neb., the town of 200 people looked on safely as another Easter weekend storm brushed by.

Like the 1913 tornado, there was no advanced tornado watch and only a few minutes warning.

Radio: “The weather service has issued a tornado warning, a tornado warning. Paging out Dunbar for spotters please.”

Otoe County Emergency Management Director Gregg Goebel said the weather service issued a thunderstorm warning at 4:45 p.m. and the tornado touched down 14 minutes later.
Goebel: “I mean it was a unique storm.

“This storm came so fast, and developed so quickly, and dropped a storm that wasn’t moving very fast.”

Tyrra Edwards, 33, said the hail and rain had stopped when children began trying to get her attention.

Edwards: “My niece, whose eight, she looked up and said Oh my God, there’s a tornado. She’s kind of a drama queen, so we were like, okay, and then my son, he was like, ‘no, mom, really there is one.’ I went out from the garage and there it was.”
911 dispatchers were taking reports from a wide area as responders attempted to pinpoint the tornado’s location.

Radio: “We have a tornado spotted. It’s dropping just south of Weeping Water.

It’s been dropping, it’s going toward Dunbar, Avoca, Weeping Water. Funnel cloud on the ground.”

Edwards: “I didn’t see any damage, I wasn’t sure if it actually had touched down really until I started seeing all the dirt flying up. My dad, being trained in that kind of stuff, said, no that’s definitely on the ground you can see how much stuff is flying around the base of it.”
The tornado of 1913 damaged each of the town’s 70 homes and leveled many businesses that never returned to what was then called Berlin. This year there were only Facebook posts to prove how close disaster had come.

Goebel: “We haven’t received any reports of damage. The storm stayed in a relatively short space when it was on the ground.
“We’ve heard reports that it was only up 100 to 200 feet, but that’s not confirmed.

Radio: “Saw it lift back into the sky. Dunbar and 67, so we can get together and do some damage assessment. I think we can call an all-clear.”

by Dan Swanson and Jon Kipper
April 17, 2017

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Kyrie Wagner