OMAHA — Hundreds of people who attended a Trump rally in Omaha Tuesday night were left stranded on an airport tarmac in near-freezing temperatures and some required medical attention after buses meant to shuttle voters to their cars were delayed for hours, according to local authorities, rally attendees and reports from journalists at the scene.
As President Trump traveled to Eppley Airfield to fight for the area’s single electoral vote, which could determine the outcome of a close national election, buses shuttled rally attendees from a parking lot to the event site.
The rally ended around 9 p.m., but hours later, as temperatures dropped into the mid-20s, journalists at the scene reported that crowds of attendees were still waiting for buses to take them back to their cars.
Thousands of people left out in the cold and stranded in #Omaha, #Nebraska after a #Trump rally. I’m told the shuttles aren’t operating & there aren’t enough busses. Police didn’t seem to know what to do. Some walked. I saw at least one woman getting medical attention. pic.twitter.com/oIkmixaZt0
— Jeff Paul (@Jeff_Paul) October 28, 2020
Dillon Bloedorn, a farmer who had driven 80 miles to attend the rally, was among the first round of people to exit the event and wait for buses. But, he said, “a wall of people was pushing up there,” and added that he waited about two hours for a bus, finally loading around 11:30 p.m.
The first set of buses loaded quickly and took off, he said, but more buses failed to turn up. “Maybe it wasn’t real organized,” he said.
Those stranded included older people and children, and when more buses arrived, the people who remained made sure they were the first to load, Mr. Bloedorn said.
Officer Michael Pecha of the Omaha Police Department said Wednesday that the authorities were still “gathering information” about the extent of the transportation problems and the degree to which the police provided assistance. He confirmed that medics and Fire Department personnel provided medical attention to some people, but did not offer details.
In a statement, Samantha Zager, a spokeswoman for the Trump campaign said that because of the size of the crowd, the campaign had deployed 40 shuttle buses to the event — more than twice the usual number.
“But local road closures and resulting congestion caused delays,” Ms. Zager said. “We always strive to provide the best guest experience at our events and we care about their safety.”
Earlier Tuesday, the police posted a warning on Facebook, noting that the allocated parking for the Trump rally was full and that the event would not be accessible “by foot, Uber, cab or any other means of transportation.”
The drive from the parking lot to the tarmac where the event was held was 3.7 miles, in order to avoid crossing runways.