UPDATE: UNO issues emergency evacuation due to gas leak Friday


Gateway Staff

University of Nebraska at Omaha officials evacuated portions of the Dodge campus due to a gas leak Friday morning.

The university issued an emergency announcement to students, faculty and staff via email and Twitter about the gas leak and advised drivers to avoid University South Drive until further notice.

Omaha Police were called at 11 a.m. to help assist in the campus evacuation of dorms.The Metropolitan Utilities District and firefighters are also on scene.

The campus community was asked to evacuate Maverick Village, University Village, the Weber Fine Arts Building, Criss Library, the Weitz Community Engagement Center and the College of Public Affairs and Community Service (CPACS) Building until an all-clear was given.

Several classes were in session on campus during the gas leak. Graphic Design student Nicole Adkins was in the Weber Fine Arts Building when the evacuation was announced.

“When I first came in [to Weber] I smelled something,” Adkins said, “I thought it was strange they didn’t evacuate us sooner as we smelled something a good thirty minutes before anything was said, but they did take care of it quickly.”

Students also addressed concerns over the way the announcement was made.

“It would have been nicer to know what was going on right away over the intercom, instead of just being told to avoid a certain area,” Art student Sam Helms said.

The intercom announcement in Weber advised students to avoid the area of University Drive South, but individual campus security officers went door-to-door in the building to announce the evacuation order to each classroom before a campus-wide alert was sent out on phones.

The evacuation had an impact on students hoping to use certain facilities on campus. Student Kara Bernbeck works in the creative production lab in Criss library, one of the buildings temporarily shut down by the evacuation.

“When the library closes, it affects how many people are coming in to use our services,” Bernbeck said, “There’s not that many people in the summer, but when the whole building is shut down it’s kind of a big deal. It’s never happened to me before.”

At 11:48 a.m., campus officials alerted the UNO community that the gas leak on University Drive South had been resolved. Campus activities were encouraged to resume normal operations.

The gas leak was determined to be a result of construction activities in the area. As a result of the leak and repairs, Dodge campus was expected to be without gas for three to four hours, affecting water heaters and kitchen appliances in the Milo Bail Student Center.