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The Grand Island Independent
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June 6, 1980
Dogs brought out to hunt for missing

Editor's note -- This story was compiled by staff member Mark Getzfred from staff reports by Harold Reutter, Elizabeth Barrett, Dick Placzek, Karen Wittwer, Jim Faddis and Jim Titsworth.

The search for missing persons continued Friday morning as officials used dogs to help sift through the rubble.

Terry Marshall, director of the Hastings/Adams County Civil Defense, said dogs, equipped with protective boots, would be used in an effort to locate bodies which might be buried. One dog had been injured searching Thursday.

Bill Kelly of the state Fire Marshal's office said 10 teams of four-to-six people will being going back into the most damaged areas to look at the structures which are virtually impossible to search.

Kelly said the search is expected to continue Saturday.

Jimmy Carter, Grand Island fire marshal, in coordination with Wally Barnett, Nebraska fire marshal, are conducting the search.

The official death count remains at four as the number of unreported people continues to dwindle.

While the search and clean-up efforts continue, utility officials were making another attempt Friday to restore electricity to the entire city.

Power slowly was restored Wednesday and Thursday but several areas remain without electricity or sewers.

And city officials aren't making any promises when electricity will be restored. An equipment failure Thursday night put utility crews several hours behind schedule.

Residents with sewer services are being asked to limit its use. Washers, dish washers and other things using a lot of water as well as air conditioners and things using a lot of electricity should not be used, officials said.

Drinking water may be available before the weekend.

Tests determine the water's purity should be completed Friday afternoon, said Ed Edwards, county-city health director. A decision to let residents drink the water will be made after reviewing the results.

Two federal-state disaster centers are being established at the Grand Generation Center, 301 E. Third St., and the gymnasium at Central Catholic High School, 1200 N. Ruby. The centers will provide various federal and state assistance for tornado victims.

Residents can go to the centers for help in obtaining loans and grants.

Rep. Virginia Smith planned to arrive in Grand Island Friday afternoon and to meet with disaster officials to see that adequate federal assistance is being provided, according to a spokesman at Smith's Washington office. Smith planned to tour the disaster area Friday and take a helicopter tour Saturday morning. She will meet with city, county and federal officials at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at City Hall.

A spokesman for Smith said the federal government will pay for temporary housing for disaster victims for up to one year. The person will have to pay the utility costs. Smith's spokesman said as soon as housing needs are assessed the federal government will move mobile homes into Grand Island for temporary housing.

Two persons were killed by heart attacks Wednesday afternoon. Walter Klein, 79, 2219 N. Grand Island Ave., died while cleaning up rubble and DeWight D. Perkins, 66, Silver Springs Md., died while shaving.

Rural residents around Grand Island are also cleaning up.

Farmers near Phillips received an estimated $3 million damage to buildings from the storm. J.C. Cranfill, Hamilton County extension agent, said 55 farmers reported some damage from the storm.

Some 12 center pivot irrigation systems reportedly were destroyed.

Damage in Phillips primarily was limited to trees and roofs.

Farmers northwest of Grand Island, where the first twister touched down, also are cleaning up. Apparently, the farmers have not received emergency services because of the storm in Grand Island and many people aren't even aware the tornado originated in the are.

"I don't think a lot of people are even aware of the disaster out here," said Robbie Kuehner, Hall County Deputy Sheriff.

But Red Cross shelters are being set up and cleanup efforts are underway in the area.

Debbie Daley, Red Cross public relations director, said by Thursday noon the Red Cross counted 223 single family dwellings and 62 small businesses destroyed by the tornado.

Some 207 houses received major damage, 641 homes received minor damage and 35 businesses received minor damage, Daley said. Starr Elementary School and the Veterans Hospital also were damaged.

Chuck Hewitt, representative of temporary housing, said he estimated 531 houses were destroyed and 415 had major damage. Hewitt presented the figures at a meeting of federal, state and local officials Friday morning at the Interstate Holiday Inn.

Meanwhile, the 8 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew remains in effect.

Twelve persons were arrested Thursday night for curfew and other minor violations. Bill Schreffler, assistant city attorney, said three National Guardsmen and three women were arrested for breaking the curfew, disturbing the peace and failure to obey an order. All 12 were arrested in the South Locust area, Schreffler said. No looting was reported.


Prepare before leaving town
If you are going out of town this weekend and live in Grand Island, you should take some sort of identification which proves you are a Grand Island resident.

Tightened blockades will be set up around the city limits beginning Friday night to stop sightseers from entering Grand Island unless they live here or have specific business here. The blockades will be in effect through Sunday night.

No one will be allowed to enter the city without some proof of residence. A Hall County driver's license, vehicle registration or some other identification will suffice.