Tornadoes levelled about three-quarters of the buildings in
Pilger. Photo by Reuters
Residents who were forced to leave a Nebraska village
levelled by a tornado that killed a child and injured more than
two dozen people have started returning to salvage belongings
from their battered homes and businesses.
The town of Pilger, just several blocks wide and home to
about 350 people, took a direct hit on Monday afternoon
(local time) as tornadoes swept across a farming area in
northeast Nebraska, devastating up to 75 percent of its
buildings, officials said.
"Pilger is gone," said Sanford Goshorn, director of emergency
management for Stanton County. "The tornado cut right through
the centre of town."
A five-year-old girl died in a mobile home and a second
person died in a traffic crash east of town, Stanton County
Sheriff Mike Unger told reporters. More than two dozen people
were treated for storm injuries at hospitals, officials said.
Pilger, about 160km northwest of Omaha, was the hardest hit
town in a three-county area. Among the damaged or destroyed
buildings: city hall, the fire department, post office,
library and school, Unger said.
Brian Reeg, who lives nearby in Winside, stood, bewildered,
looking at a pile of rubble that had been St. John's Lutheran
Church in Pilger.
"This is where I was baptised, where I was married and went
to church my whole life," Reeg said.
Mark Aken, 58, who moved to Pilger three weeks ago, said on
Tuesday he did not have time even to unpack at the home he
rented near the flattened church.
"There's a tree right through my front door," said Aken, who
said he is staying with family in the area for now. "My van
is upside down."
Unger said 40 to 50 homes were destroyed or damaged beyond
repair when the tornado cut northeast through Pilger.
An area about six blocks long and six blocks wide was wiped
out, with debris clogging roads. Crushed vehicles littered
The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in
Norman, Oklahoma, reported at least one and possibly two
cases in which a pair of large twisters touched down
simultaneously, a rare phenomenon according to
Two weather service teams were surveying the damage Tuesday.
A threat of severe thunderstorms on Tuesday stretches from
eastern Montana as far east and north as New York and
Vermont, storm prediction center forecaster Bill Bunting
Monday's severe storms spawned preliminary reports of about
two dozen tornadoes and wind and hail damage across parts of
Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois.
Storms damaged two dozen in Madison, Wisconsin and 15 to 30
houses in nearby Verona, along with an elementary school,
Dane County Emergency Management said. No injuries were
High winds damaged about a dozen homes in Platteville in
southwest Wisconsin and several buildings on the University
of Wisconsin-Platteville campus, including its stadium. One
person was seriously injured and several other people
sustained minor injuries, a city spokeswoman said.