Storm Shakes Omaha And Qwest Center

The storm that ripped through Omaha, Neb., June 27th, left residents without power, canceled concerts, killed two teenagers in a nearby city and interrupted practice for the U.S. swimming trials at the Qwest Center Omaha, which suffered damage to the exterior siding and a burst pipe.

Omaha was hit with rain, baseball-sized hail and winds estimated at 100 mph in some areas. A Kool & the Gang outdoor concert at Memorial Park and an evening with Willie Nelson concert at the Stir Concert Cove in the Bluffs were canceled.

The strong winds forced swimmers practicing for the U.S. Olympic trials to evacuate the pools at the Qwest Center Omaha. After alarms sounded at 4:45 p.m., about 600 swimmers, 450 coaches, volunteers and support staff were led into the hallways of the venue and sought safety between the arena and convention center.

The pool was closed at 6:05 p.m. for safety reasons but reopened early the next morning, according to the Omaha World-Herald. The eight-day U.S. Olympic Trials for swimming went on as planned, starting June 29th.

The paper reported that insulation and metal framework at the venue were exposed after more than a 50-foot strip of the side of the 18,200-capacity building was ripped away. After the wind pulled siding off the north side of the arena, water then leaked into the building and caused a 12-inch pipe to burst in the southeast corner of the Qwest Center. The water reached the lowest level of the venue, flowed through Section 109 and damaged one suite.

Across the Missouri River from Omaha, in Council Bluffs, Iowa, two 18-year-old men died when the storm caused a tree to fall and crash onto the car they were in while at a friend’s house.