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After the snow fell Sunday, the broken branches followed — blocking streets, leaving thousands without power and sending a woman to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.

The 69-year-old remained in critical condition Monday after a tree limb fell on her and a neighbor near 45th and M streets, according to Officer Angela Sands, a police spokeswoman. The neighbor's injuries weren't life threatening, but the 63-year-old was taken to a hospital for treatment.

The weight of the wet 3.5 inches of snow toppled just a few entire trees but snapped thousands of branches in all quadrants of the city, blocking at least 30 streets, said city forester Bob Weyhrich.

His crews continued to clean up the debris Monday, including removing split and dangerous trees.

The work will keep them busy. “There’s a lot of big stuff and there’s still a lot of stuff up in the trees that has yet to come down,” he said.

Snow storm cleanup, 10/15

A snow creature leans over in the warm sun on Monday.

On a scale of one to 10 — with 10 being the tree-tumbling snowstorm of October 1997 — Weyhrich would rank the damage from Sunday’s snowfall a four or five.

The falling branches also kept more than 80 Lincoln Electric employees and contractors on the clock Sunday, responding to outages that left roughly 7,000 without power.

The outages were scattered across the city — wherever tree limbs could fall on overhead wires — though the area between U.S. 2 and Van Dorn and roughly 20th to 30th streets was hit hardest, with 1,700 customers in the dark.

“And they were off for quite a while,” said LES spokeswoman Rachel Barth. “There was extensive tree damage.”

LES crews had restored power to the area just before midnight and were packing up when another branch fell, again severing power to the 1,700 customers.

“But they saw it happen and were able to get it back on pretty quick,” Barth said.

The power lines took the brunt of the damage, and LES had no reports of broken poles or substation problems.

Its crews worked through the night, and a fresh shift hit the streets 6:30 a.m. Monday. LES has 14 employees helping repair hurricane-hit areas in Florida, but the utility still had enough staff to respond to Sunday’s power outages, Barth said.

“Anytime before we agree to do mutual aid calls, we look at making sure we have enough backup here to cover,” she said. “We had our crews on standby when the weather hit.”

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On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.




Riley Johnson reports on breaking news and public safety issues in Lincoln and southeast Nebraska.


Peter Salter is a reporter.

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