Hundreds forced to wait for hours in freezing temperatures after Trump’s Nebraska rally
Hundreds of President Trump’s supporters were left waiting in freezing cold temperatures Tuesday evening after shuttle buses taking attendees of his rally in Omaha, Neb., were unable to return many supporters from the venue to their cars.
It wasn’t initially clear why the shuttle buses provided by the Trump campaign were delayed, though traffic outside of the airfield where the event took place was reportedly heavy and cell service was spotty and slow, hampering police communications.
Some attendees remained on-site until nearly 1 a.m., according to the Omaha World-Herald, which noted that the president’s remarks ended around 9 p.m.
Trump campaign officials told the newspaper that crowds estimated around 29,000 contributed to the delays but added that their buses were sufficient for those attending.
“We need at least 30 more buses,” one Omaha police officer told CNN, however.
President Trump took off in Air Force One 1 hr 20 minutes ago, but thousands of his supporters remain stranded on a dark road outside the rally. “We need at least 30 more buses,” an Omaha police officer just said, shaking his head at the chaotic cluster that is unfolding.
— Jeff Zeleny (@jeffzeleny) October 28, 2020
“There was no direction given. I expected at the end of the rally somebody will say, ‘Go this way and there will be buses waiting,'” one rally volunteer told the World-Herald.
The buses did not return after the first load of attendees were picked up “for an hour and a half,” added the volunteer, Kris Beckenbach.
In a statement to The Hill, the Trump campaign’s deputy national press secretary attributed the delays to local road closures and congestion.
“President Trump loves his supporters and was thrilled to visit Omaha last night. Despite the cold, tens of thousands of people showed up for his rally. Because of the sheer size of the crowd, we deployed 40 shuttle buses – double the normal allotment – but local road closures and resulting congestion caused delays. At the guest departure location, we had tents, heaters, generators, hot cocoa, and handwarmers available for guests. We always strive to provide the best guest experience at our events and we care about their safety,” said Samantha Zager.
One Democratic state senator sharply criticized the unfolding scene late Tuesday night.
“Supporters of the President were brought in, but buses weren’t able to get back to transport people out. It’s freezing and snowy in Omaha tonight. What people will do for this con man, what people have sacrificed, is so sad to me. He truly does not care about you,” state Sen. Megan Hunt tweeted.
Supporters of the President were brought in, but buses weren’t able to get back to transport people out. It’s freezing and snowy in Omaha tonight.
— Senator Megan Hunt (@NebraskaMegan) October 28, 2020
“Leaving thousands of Nebraskans stranded in the cold captures the entire Trump administration,” Jane Kleeb, chairwoman of Nebraska’s Democratic Party, said in a statement to the newspaper. “I hope those responsible for the poor planning to feed Trump’s ego will be held accountable and that fellow Nebraskans turn out to vote to end this chaos.”
At least seven people were reportedly hospitalized and 30 were treated on site.
Omaha police did not immediately return a request for comment on the exact number of hospitalizations or the reason for the delays in shuttle buses returning to the venue.
Updated at 1:00 p.m. with a statement from the Trump campaign