Humphrey on the mend after storms

August 2, 2018

HUMPHREY – Businesses in Humphrey resumed their operations as usual despite suffering severe damage in a Friday night thunderstorm.

“We picked up as soon as we got everything cleaned up,” said Cole Ziemba, a service technician at Platte Valley Equipment, on Tuesday. “We are back to full board. We don’t miss a beat.”

Tim Hofbauer, emergency manager of Platte County/Columbus Emergency Management, said last Friday’s storm consisted of an average of 70-80 mph winds and small hail. It started in Tilden and made its way east of Columbus, damaging storage bins, roofs, crops, power lines and buildings along the way. It gradually made its way to Butler and Colfax counties and started to lose its strength as moved down south.

“It was a pretty significant storm,” Hofbauer said.

Despite the high wind speed, Hofbauer said, there were no indications of a tornado.

“It’s not uncommon for this type of storm to happen during this time of the year,” he said.

Among all the different areas the storm affected, Hofbauer said, Humphrey received the most damage.

Ziemba said the high winds took out the air-conditioning units at Platte Valley Equipment causing the roof to break apart, as well as windows and the majority of the walls on the service shops. He said one of the storage units within the company compound was crushed in, as well.

The storm left Platte Valley Equipment with approximately $200,000 in damages, Ziemba said.

“Right now, we’ve patched our building just try to keep it weatherproof,” he said.

Humphrey Mayor Lonnie Wiedner said the storm caused the most damage to several major businesses in the area, including Platte Valley Equipment, Central Valley Ag and Klub 81 Travel Center and Grille.

Because these businesses are located outside of city limits and are privately owned, Wiedner said the city is unable to provide any type of assistance.

Hofbauer said the storm brought down a large grain storage bin at Central Valley Ag. Workers were seen Tuesday morning repairing the collapsed silo.

Klub 81 Travel Center and Grille was also left with substantial damage to its roof, which disconnected its internet connection and destroy air-conditioning units, as well as its signboard. Despite that, the business continues operating as usual.

Ziemba, who has been working at Platte Valley Equipment for six years, said he’s never seen a storm of this caliber since the 2014 Pilger tornado.

Hofbauer said the month of June is more prone to storms like this and advised community members to keep themselves prepared.

“The weather pattern this year seems to be more wet and stormy,” he said. “(But) we are looking at a dryer pattern now and a week or so.”

Humphrey can expect sunnier skies the next couple of days, according to the National Weather Service, though there is another chance for thunderstorms on Friday and Saturday.

Natasya Ong is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at natasya.ong@lee.net.

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