Residents sift through rubble after tornadoes demolish homes

Residents are sifting through the rubble after a tornado ripped through suburban Omaha, demolishing homes and businesses.

Dozens of reported tornadoes wreaked havoc in the US Midwest, causing a building to collapse with dozens of people inside and destroying and damaging at least 150 homes.

But no fatalities were reported, and fewer than two dozen people required hospital treatment.

Dr Lindsay Huse, health director of the city’s Douglas County Health Department, said none of those injured were seriously hurt – a fact she described as “miraculous”.

Tornado damage
People pick through the rubble of homes destroyed in Elkhorn, Nebraska (Nick Ingram/AP)

One or possibly two tornadoes then spent around an hour creeping towards Omaha, leaving behind damage consistent with an EF3 twister, with winds of 135-165mph, said Chris Franks of the National Weather Service.

Ultimately, the tornado slammed into the Elkhorn area in western Omaha, a city of 485,000 people with a metropolitan-area population of about one million.

James Stennis, who moved to Elkhorn about a year ago, said: “We barely made it to the basement and then we heard the destruction going on upstairs.”

Tornado damage
The tornado left a trail of complete destruction in its wake (Chris Machian/Omaha World-Herald/AP)

Staci Roe surveyed the damage to what was supposed to be her “forever home”, which was not even two years old. When the tornado hit, she and her family were out.

“There was no home to come to,” she said, describing “utter dread” when she saw it for the first time.

Nebraska governor Jim Pillen and Iowa counterpart Kim Reynolds have toured the damage and said they are arranging assistance for the damaged communities. Formal damage assessments are still under way, but the states plan to seek federal help.

“It is an extraordinary miracle that we’ve had this kind of cell come through and no casualties, no loss of life,” Mr Pillen said.

A group of people watch a tornado in the distance in Lincoln, Nebraska (Kenneth Ferriera/Lincoln Journal Star/AP)

No-one was hurt, and the passenger terminal was not hit. The airport has resumed operations, although access to areas used by non-commercial pilots is limited so crew can clean up the mess, the airfield.

Experts estimated this twister was a slightly weaker EF2, capable of winds of 111-135mph.

After hitting the airport, the storm moved into Iowa, taking aim at the small town of Minden.

Forty to 50 homes were completely destroyed. Two injuries were reported but none were life-threatening.

Just west of the Iowa town of Pleasant Hill, a suspected tornado also damaged nearly 20 homes, injuring one person.

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