Tornado strikes Nebraska as hundreds of homes damaged and thousands without power

Hundreds of homes have been damaged and nearly 10,000 are without power after a tornado smashed through parts of Omaha, in the US state of Nebraska.

A number of tornadoes were reported in the state but the worst hit the suburbs to the northwest of the city, which has a population of 485,000.

The homes damaged were mostly in the Elkhorn area, police said, and emergency workers were going door-to-door to help people trapped in the debris.

Elkhorn residents Pat and Kim Woods said they took shelter when the tornado was about 200 yards away.

“We could hear it coming through,” Mr Woods said.

“When we came up, our fence was gone and we looked to the northwest and the whole neighbourhood’s gone.”

Mrs Woods added: “The whole neighbourhood just to the north of us is pretty flattened.”

But while some homes in the area were destroyed, others appeared untouched.

There were no reports of deaths but a number of people suffered minor injuries, according to Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer, who added: “People had warnings of this and that saved lives.”

One of the other tornados passed through parts of Eppley Airfield, the city’s airport, which was closed for almost an hour.

Passengers were sent to storm shelters, according to Omaha Airport Authority Chief Strategy Officer Steve McCoy.

The terminal was not affected but other airport buildings “sustained damage”.

The airport has now reopened, although flight delays are expected late into Friday.

The tornado then crossed the Missouri River into Iowa, where damage reports are still coming through.

Daniel Fienhold, who owns a steakhouse in Crescent, Iowa, said he watched the weather from outside with his daughter and employees.

“It started raining, and then it started hailing, and then all the clouds started to kind of swirl and come together, and as soon as the wind started to pick up, that’s when I headed for the basement, but we never saw it,” he said.

Three workers at an industrial plant were injured when another tornado struck near the Nebraska city of Lincoln on Friday afternoon.