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Paul Smith
June 27th, 2008, 10:55 PM
Just got off the phone with SVDL in Omaha, the weather was so bad they could not get into the pool for warm-ups this afternoon (Friday)...apparently her hotel room has some flooding going on and she attempted to film it with her cell pone and upload to floswim (I didn't find it)..gotta love the midwest eh?!

PS; total rumor but heard Phelps might have strep throat

ALM
June 27th, 2008, 11:03 PM
http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jyUbN0kiV9UDlGefwkyaRYUZF3DgD91IO42O0

Severe storm in Omaha damages swimming arena
By BETH HARRIS 2 hours ago

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) A severe storm packing strong wind damaged the Qwest Center and forced hundreds of swimmers practicing for the U.S. Olympic trials to evacuate the pools Friday.

A tornado warning was issued before the storm moved east across the city, but it was not immediately clear if a touchdown occurred.

Officials at the 7-year-old arena near downtown Omaha closed the building for the rest of the night after the afternoon storm blew through to check the extent of the damage. Superstar Michael Phelps and hundreds of other swimmers were herded into the hallways of the arena after a tornado warning was issued.

Arena televisions were tuned into local stations showing a swath of red, orange and yellow on the radar. Swimmers, coaches and meet workers milled about chatting. Some crowded close to an outside door with a narrow window that revealed the chaos outside furious wind, rain and debris scattering through the parking lot.

"I was going go check it out, but I figured I'd just sit down and rest," said two-time Olympian Erik Vendt.

Hail, heavy rain and wind of at least 50 mph tore through the city during the storm.

Water poured into parts of the Qwest Center, flowed down two sets of arena steps and onto the deck of the competition pool. The eight-day meet to decide the U.S. Olympic swimming team opens Sunday.

An elephant display for Mutuel of Omaha's Wild Kingdom on the arena's lobby level was flooded.

Outside, there was no visible damage to the arena itself, but what appeared to be chunks of material from the building were scattered about. Some swimmers picked up the pieces and posed for pictures.

Phelps and his Club Wolverine teammates were walking from their hotel to the arena for afternoon practice when tornado sirens sounded.

"Really ominous, that's for sure," said Vendt, Phelps' roommate during the meet.

Phelps' mother, Debbie, was evacuated to the bottom floor of a nearby hotel where many of the swimmers are staying.

On a lighter note, Vendt joked that the storm might have been a good omen.

"When we came into the 2000 trials in Indianapolis, the same type thing happened," he recalled. "Just a crazy thunderstorm that shook the hotel. Maybe that's a good sign. USA Swimming puts us in tornado alley during tornado season."

After the storm passed in about 40 minutes, the building was cleared and swimmers headed outside to snap pictures of sheet metal and other material that had been blown around.

The arena's closure had Jack Bauerle, coach of the U.S. women's Olympic team, trying to arrange for another pool to practice in.

"It's an auspicious start, but everyone can adjust," he said. "It's no big deal, but at least it's our job to tell them it's no big deal. It's just a change in plans."

Bauerle predicted things would return to normal as long as the 1,250 swimmers set to compete at the trials are able to get back into the practice and warmup pools Saturday. Typically, swimmers practice in the morning and again in the afternoon.

"You don't want to miss two sessions of practice," he said.

Damage reports included downed trees and power lines that blocked streets and windows broken by golfball-sized hail. Traffic lights were out throughout the city.

resqme
June 27th, 2008, 11:26 PM
A lot of debris and trees down! Pretty serious storm that blew through. UNO completely closed due to the storm, morning sessions are cancelled, but afternoon sessions are scheduled as usual from what I understand for the Qwest Center activities and warm-ups.

KeithM
June 27th, 2008, 11:43 PM
North Coast AQ coach was told that the pool would be available in the morning. Let's hope so. Losing the one evening session is not terribly convenient but not a big deal. But losing the morning as well would make many quite unhappy. Especially given the number of swimmers at trials.