President Donald Trump’s rally at Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Nebraska, ended around 9 p.m. Tuesday, but hundreds of attendees wouldn’t make their way out of the freezing cold until a few hours later.
As Trump jetted away on Air Force One, his supporters lined up to wait for buses to take them back to their cars, which were parked miles away from the event.
But the buses, organized by the Trump campaign, were staggeringly slow to return. There were plenty of buses, the campaign told the Omaha World-Herald, but they were stuck in traffic after the rally because the two-lane airport access road was limited to one direction.
“Because of the sheer size of the crowd, we deployed 40 shuttle buses instead of the normal 15, but local road closures and resulting congestion caused delays,” Samantha Zager, a spokesperson for the Trump campaign, said in a statement.
The temperature dropped as low as 31 degrees Tuesday night. At least two people received help from police, including an elderly woman warming up in the back of a police cruiser and a young boy, according to the World-Herald.
“We need at least 30 more buses,” one Omaha police officer told CNN after the rally, reportedly shaking his head at the chaotic scene.
The majority of people were shuttled back by around midnight, with the last few stragglers reportedly leaving at 12:40 a.m. Wednesday.
There were 30 people “contacted for medical reasons” and a total of seven people transported to hospitals “with a variety of medical conditions,” Omaha police told HuffPost, citing preliminary reports.
“Those needing medical attention were contacted by medics over the duration of the event, not just at the end,” a police spokesperson said in a statement.
30 people contacted for medical reasons and a total of 7 people transported to area hospitals with a variety of medical conditions. Those needing medical attention were contacted by medics over the duration of the event, not just at the end. E
The Omaha Airport Authority did not immediately return HuffPost’s request for comment.
The Trump campaign made “tents, heaters, generators, hot cocoa, and handwarmers available to guests” at the “guest departure location,” Zager said in her statement Wednesday.
“We always strive to provide the best guest experience at our events and we care about their safety,” she added.
Thousands of people packed Trump’s outdoor rally in Omaha on Tuesday. Though the campaign checked attendees’ temperatures and provided them with masks, many people in the crowd opted not to wear them, prompting concerns over the possibility of the coronavirus spreading.
COVID-19 cases have reached record highs in Nebraska in recent weeks as infection rates surge across dozens of states. But Trump told the crowd in Omaha that the U.S. was “turning that corner” on the pandemic.
Trump joked about the frigid conditions at one point during his rally Tuesday.
“I’m standing here freezing,” the president told the rallygoers, many of whom would be doing the same for another three hours after he wrapped up his speech. “I ask you one little favor: Get the hell out and vote.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Trump flew from Omaha to Washington. He flew to Las Vegas.