Tag Archive: Nebraska

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Nebraskan Woman Is Weaving Hundreds Of Mats From Plastic Bags For The Homeless



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No act of kindness is ever too small, especially when some people haven’t witnessed much kindness in their lives at all.

Plastic is a burden to the environment, and homelessness is a crisis in need of remedy. Can both be lessened, however, with a bit of creative philanthropy?

If you were to ask volunteers with the Faith Westwood United Methodist Church in Nebraska, the answer would likely be ‘yes’. 

KMVT News reports that every week, dozens of women, and a few men, gather inside the Nebraskan church for an intriguing purpose. The volunteers collect, sort, de-wrinkle and smooth out thousands of plastic grocery bags – a common item most, unfortunately, throw away – to weave into woven mats for the homeless.

By using a method tested again and again by one of the group’s volunteers, Marilynn Jones, thousands of plastic bags are repurposed into mats homeless individuals can sleep on in less than satisfactory conditions.

So often, the homeless shelters in the metro are filled to capacity and people are forced to sleep on the floor. The plastic mats at least provide some comfort to those who need it most.

More than 1,000 plastic bags are required to make one mat. The group has so far made hundreds, but Jones is by far considered the “plastic bag weaving” pro.

Credit: KMTV News

Credit: KMTV News

She told KMTV News that she learned how to quilt 70 years ago and hasn’t stopped practicing the craft since. The first afghan she ever made, with the help of her grandmother, hangs in her home.

Regarding the plastic mats, “They tell me I’ve done 248. I don’t keep track,” she said. Jones presently makes two per week.

Jones began experimenting with the plastic bags two years ago shortly after losing her husband.

“I do this mainly…I lost my husband 2 years ago, and that’s when I started. I needed something to do with my hands and it worked out real well for me,” she shared.

Like many compassionate individuals, she’ll tell you no act of kindness is ever too small, especially when some people haven’t witnessed much kindness in their lives at all.

“I think the fact that I’m making something worthwhile, where I know where it goes and people that use it need it — I don’t like to just crochet for an afghan or something – that doesn’t help me – I just need to do something for someone else,” she said.

Not only is the practice helping to fill a void in heart, it’s blessing hundreds of others at the same time.

Comment your thoughts below and share this positive news!


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Sep 30, 2015 10:01am

CREDIT: AP Photo/Nati Harnik

Anti-pipeline activist Allen Schreiber of Lincoln wears a shirt inscribed with slogans opposing the Keystone XL pipeline during a rally outside the State Capitol in Lincoln, Neb.


TransCanada, the Calgary-based company behind the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, has backed out of a lawsuit filed by more than 100 Nebraska landowners, the company announced Tuesday.

The energy company had been trying to gain access to private land along the proposed path of the tar sands pipeline, but had been held up legally by landowners who were opposed to letting the pipeline through their land. Now, instead of trying to gain access to that land through legal means, TransCanada will apply for a permit for Keystone XL with Nebraska’s Public Service Commission.

TransCanada says the decision will bring more certainty to Keystone XL’s route through Nebraska. But it also could cause further delays for the project, as a PSC approval can take a year or longer.

Previously, TransCanada sought to avoid the PSC approval process, choosing instead to give the state’s governor final approval over the project’s application in Nebraska. The law that gave the company the ability to choose was heavily challenged in court, but ultimately upheld.


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Earth Watch Report  – Fire / Explosion


Explosion USA State of Nebraska, Omaha [International Nutrition] Damage level Details


Explosion in USA on Monday, 20 January, 2014 at 18:37 (06:37 PM) UTC.

As many as 15 people are thought to be injured or trapped inside an Omaha plant that produces animal supplements. Rescuers had taken five people to the hospital shortly after 10:30 a.m. Monday. They notified emergency room personnel that others remained inside International Nutrition near South 76th and F Streets. Emergency dispatchers received a report of a possible industrial explosion Monday about 10 a.m. At least five rescue squads were dispatched to 7706 I Plaza, home of International Nutrition. Early reports indicated that up to 12 to 15 people were injured or trapped in the 10 a.m. blast, with at least five men taken to Creighton University Medical Center. Four were in serious condition and the fifth person was in critical condition. Among the five men who were injured were a 21-year-old, a 36-year-old, a 37-year-old and a 49-year-old. According to police radio dispatches, the 21-year-old suffered a head laceration and the 36-year-old inhaled limestone dust. Both are in serious condition. International Nutrition manufactures farm animal supplements. According to its website, “International Nutrition has serviced the U.S. feed industry for over 40 years. Combining an inventory of over 350 critical ingredients with our expertise in producing medicated, nutritional and specialty premixes, we are successfully servicing the needs of animal health distributors and feed manufacturers.”



Official: Omaha plant fire claims 2 lives, 10 others injured

By Steve Almasy and Carma Hassan, CNN
updated 8:16 PM EST, Mon January 20, 2014
Watch this video

At least 2 dead in Omaha plant explosion

  • Mayor’s office, county attorney says 2 dead, all others accounted for
  • Witnesses describe an explosion followed by chaos
  • OSHA says too early to determine cause of the incident

(CNN) — At least two people died and four were critically injured Monday in a plant accident in Omaha, Nebraska, authorities said.

The incident happened about 10 a.m. CT at International Nutrition, a company that produces feed and other products for livestock and poultry.

“I heard the explosion and stuff started falling, so I ducked for cover,” worker Nate Lewis told CNN affiliate KETV. “It was pitch black in there. All I could see was fire. I had to feel my way out of the place. I couldn’t see anything.”

There were 38 people at the plant at the time of the incident, interim Omaha fire chief Bernard Kanger said. Ten of the injured people needed a trip to the hospital, the chief said, adding that four were initially in critical condition.

Seven other people at the scene refused treatment, he said.

The mayor’s office and the county attorney’s office said two people had died. A spokeswoman for Mayor Jim Suttle said all other people at the plant were accounted for as of Monday night.

An employee told KETV that he heard noises, saw fire and sprinted for his life.

“I just heard a crack pop and big ball of fire, and I just took off running when I heard the first crack,” worker Jamar White “That’s all I could do was get out of the way and make sure I was OK.”

A spokesman for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said OSHA investigators were at the plant, where part of the building had collapsed. Scott Allen said it is too early to determine the cause of the accident.

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The New Zealand Herald

Fatal feed processing plant explosion in Omaha

The International Nutrition plant is shown with wreckage in Omaha, Nebraska. Photo / AP

The International Nutrition plant is shown with wreckage in Omaha, Nebraska. Photo / AP

Omaha officials say two people are dead and all other workers are accounted for in the animal feed plant that exploded.

The explosion Monday morning (local time) brought down part of the International Nutrition plant. Two people were killed and 10 others seriously hurt.

Omaha Police Lieutenant Darci Tierney said all of the other people who were working have been accounted for.

Authorities don’t know what caused the blast.

Interim Omaha Fire Chief Bernie Kanger noted that there were no hazardous chemicals at the plant.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will determine the cause.

The explosion knocked out the lights in the building and sent workers scrambling for safety.

Worker Jamar White said he heard a loud crack and looked up to see the back wall of the building collapsing. White said he then ran to safety.

Thirty-eight people were working at the plant when the blast happened. In addition to the two people who died and 10 who were hospitalized, seven people were hurt but refused treatment. Officials have not said how many of the 19 others escaped.

“We haven’t cleared the building yet because of the significant risk to our people,” Kanger said.

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Multiple tornadoes hit three Midwestern states.

The storms struck Nebraska, South Dakota, and Iowa.

The National Weather Service confirmed six twisters struck the states.

Fifteen people were injured in Wayne, Nebraska.

A Nebraska newspaper reported several buildings in Wayne’s industrial park were damaged or destroyed along with several homes south of the city.

One tornado hit just blocks from Wayne State College.


Great Plains Storm Brings Snow, Tornadoes

By CHET BROKAW 10/05/13 10:48 AM ET EDT AP

PIERRE, S.D. — PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — In the span of 24 hours, the scenic Black Hills in South Dakota were coated in up to three and a half feet of wet, heavy snow, one of several Great Plains states walloped by a storm system that’s caused millions of dollars in damage.

Wind gusts of up to 70 mph were recorded in the Black Hills, National Weather Service meteorologist Katie Pojorlie said Saturday morning, but the snow was expected to end later Saturday, giving people a chance to start digging out from the unusual early fall snowstorm that set records.

But wintry weather wasn’t the only thing wrapped into the powerful cold front, as thunderstorms brought heavy rain, hail and tornadoes in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota. No one died in the tornadoes, reports said, but snow was blamed in the deaths of three people who were killed in a traffic accident on U.S. 20 in northeast Nebraska.

Forecasters said the front would eventually combine with other storms to make for a wild — and probably very wet — weekend for much of the central U.S. and Southeast.

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The cyclospora parasite in human stool has made about 250 people sick in the Midwest.

Bagged salad contaminated with the rare parasite cyclospora appears to be the source of a food poisoning outbreak in Nebraska and Iowa.

Bagged salad caused parasite outbreak, states say

17 hours ago

Health officials in Iowa and Nebraska on Tuesday tagged prepackaged salad mix as the source for an outbreak of parasite-borne food poisoning in those states even as federal officials worked to see if the conclusion applies elsewhere as well.

Iowa’s top food inspector, Steven Mandernach, said that bagged salad was behind the cyclospora outbreak that has sickened at least 143 people in that state and another 78 in Nebraska. Overall, at least 372 people in 15 states have been sickened by the rare parasite since June.

“The evidence points to a salad mix containing iceberg and romaine lettuce, as well as carrots and red cabbage as the source of the outbreak reported in Iowa and Nebraska,” said Mandernach, chief of the Food and Consumer Safety Bureau of the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals. “Iowans should continue eating salads as the implicated prepackaged mix is no longer in the state’s food supply chain.”

Nebraska officials also confirmed the source, a spokeswoman said, but neither state would name the brand or the producer of the bagged salad mix — and they would not say whether it was an imported or domestic product.

But it wasn’t yet clear whether the packaged salad was linked to other infections in other states, officials with the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. At least 21 people have been hospitalized in connection with the outbreak.

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Earth Watch Report  –  Biological  Hazards

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Today Biological Hazard USA MultiStates, [States of South Dakota and Nebraska] Damage level Details

Biological Hazard in USA on Monday, 22 July, 2013 at 04:24 (04:24 AM) UTC.

Wildlife officials are trying to figure out what killed hundreds of Asian carp in the Missouri River this spring. The answer to the mystery could help protect other fish and might provide clues as to how to deal with the invasive carp. Fisheries biologist Jeff Schuckman said no one has come up with a good explanation for the fish kill yet, the Sioux City Journal reported. The rotting carcasses of hundreds of silver carp were found in the river’s slow backwaters near Vermillion, South Dakota, and Ponca, Nebraska Another incident was reported in Nebraska North Platte River near where it joins the Missouri River. Both those fish kills were reported in May. The unexplained deaths worry wildlife officials even though the carp is an unwanted species that’s competing for food with native fish and growing fast. Silver, bighead and grass carp have all been found in the Missouri River. “A lot of people think, ‘Oh, it’s just Asian carp,’ or, ‘It’s just common carp’ that are dying, but that’s a big deal to us,” said Schuckman, who works for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

The number of Asian carp found in the Missouri River soared after the record flooding of 2011. Wildlife officials worry about the ravenous carp’s ability to dominate an ecosystem. Silver carp also represent a safety hazard for boaters because they can hurl their bodies into the paths of boaters when startled. Officials don’t think the carp that died near Vermillion, South Dakota, starved because they weren’t thin. “What I observed was a single-species die-off, and that makes me think it was something else involved,” Schuckman said. Disease may have caused the fish deaths, but officials weren’t able to take any samples from this spring’s fish kills. It’s possible that whatever killed carp along the Missouri River this spring could help officials control the Asian carp population, but it’s too soon to know that. And if disease killed the carp this spring, officials might still be reluctant to use that as a control measure because a disease could mutate and affect other species.

Biohazard name: Mass Die-off (Asian and silver carp)
Biohazard level: 2/4 Medium
Biohazard desc.: Bacteria and viruses that cause only mild disease to humans, or are difficult to contract via aerosol in a lab setting, such as hepatitis A, B, and C, influenza A, Lyme disease, salmonella, mumps, measles, scrapie, dengue fever, and HIV. “Routine diagnostic work with clinical specimens can be done safely at Biosafety Level 2, using Biosafety Level 2 practices and procedures. Research work (including co-cultivation, virus replication studies, or manipulations involving concentrated virus) can be done in a BSL-2 (P2) facility, using BSL-3 practices and procedures. Virus production activities, including virus concentrations, require a BSL-3 (P3) facility and use of BSL-3 practices and procedures”, see Recommended Biosafety Levels for Infectious Agents.
Status: confirmed

Mystery Carp Killer

By: Associated Press Email
Posted: Mon 6:06 AM, Jul 22, 2013

Wildlife officials are trying to figure out what killed hundreds of Asian Carp in the Missouri River this spring.

The answer to the mystery could help protect other fish, and it might provide clues to dealing with the invasive carp.

Fisheries biologist Jeff Schuckman tells the Sioux City Journal reports that no one has come up with a good explanation for the fish kill.

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Earth Watch Report  –  Power  Outage – Storms

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25.06.2013 Power Outage USA State of Nebraska, Omaha Damage level Details


Power Outage in USA on Monday, 24 June, 2013 at 18:02 (06:02 PM) UTC.

A severe thunderstorm hit the Omaha metro area around 10 am packing 70 mph winds and heavy rain. Those strong winds downed trees, power lines and caused outages throughout Douglas and Sarpy Counties. There are reports of trees down all over the city blocking streets and bringing down power lines. Omaha Fire Department units are busy responding to calls of smoldering tree limbs on power lines. Omaha Public Power District perhaps has the biggest job ahead of them. Nearly 50,000 customers are without service. Loss of service also means traffic lights are not working and that is causing backups throughout the entire metro area. The storm also impacted Council Bluffs and most intersections there are also four-way stops. There were reports of trees down at several locations in that city as well. MidAmerican Energy is reporting is reporting that about 5,000 customers are without service.




‘Intense’ morning storm causes power outages, tree damage around Omaha




A summer storm that blasted through the Omaha metropolitan area Monday morning downing trees and power lines came about when several thunderstorms joined forces about 4 a.m. in eastern Nebraska.

Frank Strait, a meteorologist with AccuWeather, The World-Herald’s private weather consultant, said forecasters had been predicting chances of thunderstorms, but they “were caught off guard” by the strength of the severe weather.

“We knew there was a good chance of thunderstorms popping up, but what we got was a cluster of thunderstorms organizing into a squall line with high winds in the eastern part of the state,” Strait said. “That made everything more intense.”

More photos: Storm damages trees around Omaha

Scott Dergan, of the National Weather Service in Valley, said the storm began with winds of 40 mph on the western edge of Douglas County about 10 a.m. By the time the storm reached Eppley Airfield on the eastern boundary of the county 45 minutes later, winds there were clocked at 69 mph.

The storm continued through Iowa, with Harlan reporting winds of 75 mph, Dergan said. The line of thunderstorms was expected to hit Chicago late Monday or early Tuesday.

“A lot of times storms like this take time to brew before they get what we call water loaded, and then they accelerate,” Dergan said. “It was nothing specific about the metro area such as the urban heat island effect. It was just Mother Nature.”


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Earth Watch Report  –  Snow Storm


article photo

Today Snow Storm USA State of Nebraska, [Eastern regions] Damage level

Snow Storm in USA on Monday, 11 March, 2013 at 04:02 (04:02 AM) UTC.

An unexpectedly severe snowstorm dumped half a foot or more snow across much of eastern Nebraska on Sunday, shut down an 80-mile stretch of Interstate 80 and was at least partially to blame for a crash southeast of Lincoln that killed a 22-year-old Sterling man. The Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office said Loren D. Muhm died after he lost control of his 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo and collided with an oncoming van on icy Nebraska 43 near Bennet. The other driver was uninjured. West of the Capital City, authorities shut down an 83-mile stretch of Interstate 80 as they dug out drivers stranded in the whiteout conditions. Eastbound lanes were closed from Grand Island to Northwest 48th Street in Lincoln, and westbound lanes from Northwest 48th to York. James Barger, a truck driver for Pierce, Colo.-based Indian Creek Express, said he was at the front of a massive pileup on the interstate just west of Goehner in Seward County on Sunday morning. He spoke to a reporter on the phone from a Red Cross shelter at 105 S. Sixth St. in Seward.

“My truck’s probably totaled, at least severely damaged,” he said. “These nice folks tracked me down a motel room for me and my dog.” Barger left the rest stop east of Goehner about 8 a.m. and within minutes, he came across a driver who’d stopped his Honda Civic along westbound I-80 because of the slippery conditions. Barger said he was helping the driver when a pair of trucks behind them started to jackknife, one going into the median and the other covering the roadway. A chain reaction crash resulted, ensnaring some 15 vehicles — at least, Barger said — but resulting in no major injuries that Barger was aware of after talking to rescue workers at the scene. State troopers still were assisting motorists and a Nebraska State Patrol spokeswoman wasn’t able to provide specifics on any crashes Sunday afternoon, but a dispatcher said she was unaware of any significant injuries or fatalities on the interstate between Lincoln and Waco. The closures left thousands of visitors stranded in Lincoln, either forced off the interstate at Northwest 48th Street or unable to leave after attended high school basketball tournament games.

A stream of semitrailers and family vehicles poured into west Lincoln for much of the day, with police working to keep things moving. Officers directed westbound traffic off West O Street at Northwest 48th in order to keep drivers off U.S. 6 and allow those on the interstate to spill into town, Lincoln Police Capt. David Beggs said. U.S. 6 was closed in both directions as far west as the Seward area. The state Department of Roads urged caution on almost all major roadways in Nebraska. A member of the public reported measuring 4 inches of snow in Lincoln at I-80 and Cornhusker Highway about 12:30 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. An additional 2 to 3 inches was in the forecast. Snow measurements varied across the region, with the heaviest amounts falling in a stretch north of Lincoln from Butler County through Saunders, Dodge, Burt and Washington counties and into Iowa, based on information from early Sunday posted Web page of the Weather Service office in Valley. Those counties were under a winter storm warning. Lancaster and Seward counties were also placed under winter storm warnings due to the near-blizzard conditions, said Scott Dergan, a meterologist in Valley.

Worse than forecast

Winter storm exceeds expectations

By Maggie O’Brien


A Sunday winter storm made driving conditions hazardous for a good chunk of the nearly 6,000 men’s basketball fans who had headed to St. Louis to cheer on the Creighton Bluejays.

Laura and Tom Walker of Omaha planned to spend the night in St. Joseph, Mo., not wanting to risk travel on Interstate 29. The Iowa Department of Transportation had advised against taking the highway because of low visibility and poor road conditions.

“We’ve been getting messages from all the kids’ friends saying how bad the weather is in Omaha,” said Laura Walker, who along with her husband had gone to St. Louis with their teenage son and daughter and two other kids. “We have a couple of my son’s friends with us, too, so their parents were leaning toward us spending the night.”

The storm ended up being much worse than initially forecast, dumping 6-10 inches of snow in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa, said Erik Pindrock, a meteorologist with AccuWeather, The World-Herald’s weather consultant.

Pindrock said Lincoln had reported 7 inches of snow late Sunday, while Fremont was near 9 inches.

Final totals for the Omaha metropolitan area were not immediately available, and the snow was expected to fall until as late as 1 this morning.

Poor conditions closed Interstate 80 between Lincoln and Grand Island for much of the day — the roadway had reopened by about 9 p.m. — and canceled a handful of flights in and out of Eppley Airfield at the height of the storm, between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.


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Thousands rally in Washington to protest Keystone pipeline

The decision on whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline will be the first major climate change decision Obama will make during his second term. And given Obama’s strong comments on climate change during both his inaugural address and the State of the Union, Whitehouse said it’ll be hard for him to approve the project.

“It would create a huge credibility gap with the administration if they go that way,” he said.

The southern portion of the pipeline — from Oklahoma to Texas — is already under construction, and the 1,179-mile portion from Alberta to Nebraska is awaiting approval of a presidential permit from Obama. Last month, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman approved a revised route for the pipeline after the state’s Department of Environmental Quality said the route avoided sensitive areas of the Sandhills region.

The State Department will incorporate the Nebraska evaluation into the supplemental environmental review that will help inform the recommendation Secretary of State John Kerry will make to the president. Kerry thus far hasn’t shown his hand on whether he supports the project or not, but has said that he is committed to studying the pipeline and finishing the process begun by his predecessor, Hillary Clinton.

Kerry’s first foreign guest in his new job was Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, and the two stressed that the economies of the two countries were inextricably linked and important to the other.

But to California billionaire investor Tom Steyer, the idea that investment in Canada should be the basis for economic growth in America is folly, and he said the investment will keep the U.S. economy dependent on oil for decades.

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By Timothy Gardner and Andrew Quinn, Reuters

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration has delayed a decision on TransCanada Corp’s rerouted Keystone XL oil pipeline until after March, even though Nebraska’s governor on Tuesday approved a plan for part of the line running through his state.

“We don’t anticipate being able to conclude our own review before the end of the first quarter of this year,” said Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman at the State Department, which had previously said it would make a decision by that deadline.

She said the department would take into consideration approval of the line by Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman.

Interest in the fate of the $5.3 billion pipeline that would link Canada’s oil sands to refineries in Texas has been heightened after President Barack Obama promised to fight climate change.

Obama said in his inaugural address on Monday the United States will respond to the threat of climate change and that failure to do so would “betray our children and future generations.

The Keystone pipeline is staunchly opposed by environmentalists, who say it will lock the United States for 50 years into dependence on fuel that has higher emissions than average crude oil refined in the United States.

They want the State Department to re-examine the climate impact of the line after it previously said the project would not result in additional emissions because the oil would find its way to market even if Keystone were not built.


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