• Click here to see a map of snowfall amounts from the Oct. 25-26, 1997, storm.
Fifteen years ago, the region was digging out of a destructive October storm that dumped 6 to 20 inches of heavy wet snow on still-leafy trees.
The damage to the canopy was heartbreaking as evergreens, oaks and apple trees broke and toppled under the weight. But it was only as the next few days unfolded that we realized just how vulnerable we were without passable streets and functioning electricity.
The Omaha-Lincoln areas were traumatized by the storm, but in actuality they were at the eastern tip of the worst of the snow. Omaha received about 9 inches of snow, Lincoln more than a foot. Farther west, an estimated 18 to 20 inches of snow fell in the bull's eye of the storm.
The storm itself blew through Oct. 25-26, 1997.
According to The World-Herald archives, the storm:
— Took the lives of five people. Included was Robbie Coleman, 47, who died in a house fire that firefighters couldn't get to because the streets were strewn with downed limbs and stranded cars.
— Cost more than $50 million to clean up.
— Destroyed about 3 percent of the Omaha-Council Bluffs area's public trees and damaged about 35 percent of all trees. Lincoln was hit harder and lost about 6 percent of its public trees.
The World-Herald contributed about $1 million to replacing the region's trees, and the Nebraska Environmental Trust provided $630,000.
Nearly 400,000 trees were planted as a result, most in the metropolitan area, but also across Nebraska and in western Iowa. Those trees are maturing now, providing shade and beauty across the region.
But nature continues to test the ability of trees to thrive in the harsh Great Plains. This year's intense drought is the latest insult.
And as celebrated in Friday's newspaper, the community continues to reinvest in trees lost. First National Bank of Omaha has donated $10,000 to retree N.P. Dodge Park in the wake of the losses from the 2011 flood along the Missouri River.
In terms of that October 1997 snowstorm, the National Weather Service provided the following snowfall amounts:
Clay Center, 23 inches
Orleans, 18 inches
Franklin, 17 inches
Red Cloud, 14 inches
Wilber, 14 inches
Lincoln, 13-14 inches
Gretna, 13-14 inches
Papillion, 12 inches
Utica, 12 inches
Boystown, 10.5 inches
Nehawka, 8-10 inches
Valley, 9.2 inches
Oakland, Iowa, 8 inches
Sources: World-Herald archives, National Weather Service