NWS Confirms Tornado hit Martell on Saturday

MARTELL—(KFOR July 30)—Saturday morning’s severe storms that moved through central and eastern Nebraska did produce at least two tornadoes, one of which struck southwest of Lincoln.

The kitchen area of the Martell AirBnb that was hit by an EF1 tornado on Saturday morning. (Jeff Motz/KFOR News)

The National Weather Service confirmed an EF1 tornado struck the south end of Martell in southwestern Lancaster County, heavily damaging an AirBnB owned and ran by Rhiannon Svitak and her husband, Casey.

Svitak told KFOR News on Sunday afternoon a family from Missouri in town for a wedding in Roca was staying in the AirBnB when the storm hit.  All five people were not hurt and Svitak said she’s thankful everyone was okay.

“So many people have said they’re really lucky,” Svitak added.  “I just know that luck isn’t this.  This is God’s hand, I think.”

Damage to an AirBnB in Martell after a tornado struck Saturday morning. (Jeff Motz/KFOR News)

Four of the people from Missouri had to seek refuge in the kitchen area, while the other couple took cover in the bathroom off a bedroom.  No one was in the home the Svitak’s own on the property when the twister struck. Casey Svitak is deployed overseas until November with the Nebraska Air National Guard. Rhiannon Svitak and the rest of the family were at a boy scout camp in Grand Island at the time of the storm.

Those people from Missouri received a full refund from AirBnB, according to Svitak.  They ended up getting a hotel through help from the bride in the wedding they were going to attend Saturday evening. Svitak says AirBnB has been helpful for her family, too.

“They’ve been really gracious and helpful for us, too. To provide support, if we need it,” she said.

Friends and other family members came to the aid of Svitak after the storm.  She said her husband built the large storage shed with the AirBnB attached to it, adding it was a dream.

“It’s his (Casey) pride and joy,” Svitak said.  “It would be a dream to somehow to able to have this built back like how he had it.”

Damage to the exterior of an AirBnB in Martell after a tornado hit Saturday morning. (Jeff Motz/KFOR News)
A street sign was damaged during Saturday morning’s tornado that struck Martell in southwestern Lancaster County. (Jeff Motz/KFOR News)

One of the oddities a tornado can do is completely damage or destroy some things but leave other items untouched.  Svitak says a cellphone, Bible and ring were left untouched next to a TV that blew about 50 feet away.

Another was a key fob to a vehicle was found in the only dry spot of the building.

The interior to the Martell AirBnB that was hit by a Saturday morning tornado. Six people were in the AirBnb at the time of the storm. No one was hurt. (Jeff Motz/KFOR News)

Also on Saturday morning, in Clay County in south-central Nebraska, an EF1 tornado with winds of up to 110 mph crossed through the community of Sutton.  Damage was mostly impacting the business district area.  No reports of any injuries.

Back in Lancaster County, high winds caused tree damage in the Firth area, along with producing heavy rain. In the community of Western in southern Saline County, high winds caused tree damage, some windows to be damaged to a couple of businesses and knocked out power.

No word officially if it was straight-line winds or a tornado that hit Western.