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Tornadoes flatten rural Nebraska town

Published 10:24am Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Storm claims 2 deaths

PILGER, Neb. — A storm packing rare dual tornadoes tore through a tiny farming town in northeast Nebraska, killing a motorist and a 5-year-old girl, leaving grain bins crumpled like discarded soda cans and flattening dozens of homes.

Pilger’s 350 residents evacuated their homes after the powerful twisters slammed the area Monday afternoon. Nebraska State Patrol closed all roads into town.

“More than half of the town is gone — absolutely gone,” Stanton County Commissioner Jerry Weatherholt said. “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.”

Emergency crews and residents spent the evening sifting through demolished homes and businesses in the town about 80 miles northwest of Omaha. Stanton County Sheriff Mike Unger estimated that 50 to 75 percent of Pilger was heavily damaged or destroyed and the school is likely beyond repair.

“It’s total devastation,” Unger said.

The storm was part of a larger system that started to track across the nation’s midsection Monday afternoon. More storms are forecast for Tuesday, stretching from eastern Montana to New York, but the system likely won’t be as powerful as Monday’s storms, said Steve Corfidi, lead forecaster at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla.

The greatest risk for tornadoes will be in the Dakotas, eastern Montana and northeastern Wyoming. Hail is expected west of the Mississippi River, while damaging winds could down some trees in upstate New York, Corfidi said.

 


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