The town of Pilger, Nebraska is beginning major cleanup efforts on Tuesday after a deadly tornado swept through the area, causing massive destruction and injuring many in its wake. The National Weather Service confirmed that two tornadoes touched down within roughly a mile of each other, demolishing more than half of the town’s homes and structures. Emergency crews and residents spent Monday evening going through piles of rubble and demolished homes and businesses in the town of Pilger, which is home to about 350 residents and is about 75 miles away from Omaha. One resident who works in the school system reported that “It was like God dragged two fingernails across the land”.
Authorities have come to the conclusion that the first tornado made its touch down around 3:45 P.M and downed many power lines before leveling a farmhouse. Then, a second tornado was spotted southwest of the small farming town of Pilger. After this occurred, the town suffered a blunt hit that leveled several buildings, one of which was the Fire Department building.
The County Commissioner told the Associated Press that “The co-op is gone, the grain bins are gone, and it looks like almost every house in town has some damage. It’s a complete mess.” The Governor of Nebraska declared a state of emergency and the National Guard began preparing to deploy so they could begin to help emergency responders and help with the cleanup efforts. This small town was then evacuated for the night, and the Nebraska State Patrol then closed all roads into town. The sheriff’s office stated that all residents would gather back near town around 7 A.M on Tuesday, and the law enforcement would then escort them back into town to their homes, or what was left of them.
Many people have been injured due to these two twisters that ravaged the small town, and the Stanton County emergency manager told Fox News that the damage to the town of Pilger is quite extensive. In some areas of the town, everything, including the trees, is gone. Officials are now looking into hazardous material situations that involve storage facilities for grains, corn, and fuel. According to officials, corn from these facilities is covering the town.
This storm was a small portion of a larger system that began its trek across the nation’s middle section on Monday afternoon. More severe and stormy weather is in the forecast for Tuesday, and the predicted areas stretch from eastern Montana to New York. A local storm prediction center in Oklahoma stated that very extensive winds, large hail, and a few tornadoes are a possibility, especially in Iowa, Wisconsin, and northern Illinois.
A local official estimates that 50-70% of the small town was heavily damaged if not completely destroyed due to the storm. The local school is beyond repair, and five people had to be rescued from a rural day care center just before the storm moved into Pilger. The Southern half of the town was completely gone.
Most of the residents of the town have made their own housing arrangements, but many were stationed to take shelter at a nearby High School. About a dozen residents had arrived at the shelter by 9:30 P.M and the local officials were expecting more to come later. Local officials won’t know the extensiveness of the storm damage until late Tuesday at the earliest; after crews have finished surveying the damage. A meteorologist stated that the twin tornadoes were unusual because both appeared to have about the same amount of strength. Usually, one tornado tends to be large and more powerful than the other, yet this was not the case in this situation. It is less common for two tornadoes to track together for so long with the exact same intensity. It happens, yet it is not seen very often.
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