Travel remains difficult across the region as I-80 reopens; blizzard continues in Iowa

Travel remains difficult across the region as I-80 reopens; blizzard continues in Iowa
World-Herald News Service

The sun came out, the wind died down and suddenly on Sunday, things seemed better after yet another powerful, demoralizing winter storm.

The storm extracted its toll, though. On Sunday, two emergency workers remained hospitalized in central Nebraska after their ambulance was struck by a semitrailer truck in a major pileup. Four others in the ambulance were less seriously hurt.

“They are stable and things are looking up,” the Waco Volunteer Fire Department posted on its Facebook page.

Crashes continued to cause problems on Sunday, but nothing as serious as Saturday when 200 miles of Interstate 80 were closed due to crashes and slide-offs. Among those was the 30- to 35-vehicle pileup that left the Waco firefighters injured. In addition to the injuries from the pileup, emergency workers had to contend with 100 vehicles stranded behind it, said Cody Thomas, spokesman for the Nebraska State Patrol.

And while conditions improved noticeably on Sunday once the wind died down, the storm continued to have an effect, albeit in some odd ways:

• The inflated dome roof of a UNO recreation center collapsed Saturday night. A spokesman for the University of Nebraska at Omaha said officials didn’t know if weather was a factor in the collapse of the Center Dome at 68th and Spring Streets. But he said it was possible. Crews will begin looking into options for repair Monday.

• The Nebraska State Patrol engaged in a rolling roadblock on Interstate 80 near Highway 50 in Sarpy County to help slow down traffic. A significant pothole on the Interstate was the problem, and Nebraska Department of Transportation crews were on scene late Sunday afternoon fixing the pothole.

For most of western and northern Iowa, travel remained difficult into the afternoon Sunday due to a ground blizzard. Authorities spent most of Sunday imploring drivers to stay off the roads. Although fresh snow wasn’t falling in Iowa, winds were strong enough to blow snow back onto cleared roads and otherwise create difficult driving conditions.

The good news, in terms of cross-country travel, was that a major pileup and significant problems on Interstate 80 in mid-Nebraska had been cleared up. The Interstate had been closed from Gretna to Lexington.