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Tornado claimed girl's life in mobile home Tell North Platte what you think
Photo by Nebraska Emergency Management Agency
The path of the tornado that struck the town of Pilger can be seen in this photo.
Photo by Nebraska Emergency Management Agency
Path of destruction
Photo by Nebraska Emergency Management Agency
Downtown brick building, ripped into pieces
Photo by Nebraska Emergency Management Agency
Wider view
Photo by Nebraska Emergency Management Agency
Devastation (click on images to enlarge)
Photo by Nebraska Emergency Management Agency
As the tornado left town

Pilger was decimated by one of two tornadoes that formed Monday afternoon in northeast Nebraska, and tore through the town of 350 people, ripping buildings apart, scattering debris over a wide area, and claiming the life of a five-year-old girl.

Two people were reportedly killed in the calamity. The girl was Calista Dixon. She was badly injured in a mobile home and died at the hospital.

A man was killed when he was ejected from his car in Cuming County.  

“When you walk through the town (of Pilger), there is shock and disbelief among the citizens of Pilger. They are resilient, but they are in shock,” Gov. Heineman said Tuesday after visiting the village. “There is total destruction of homes, businesses and the grain elevator. It’s not going to hit them fully for several days."   

Sheriff Mike Unger said 45-50 homes were destroyed in Pilger. The tornado when right through the middle of the village, decimating everything in its path, including a set of grain bins in the middle of town.

The girl was with her mother and younger sister in a mobile home when the tornado hit. The mother was severly injured. She was in a coma Tuesday, according to Associated Press reports.

The two deaths are the first from a torrnado in 10 years in Nebraska, according to the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency.

There were 10 -12 homes destroyed in Dixon County, 40-50 miles north of Pilger, NEMA reported. 

Faith Regional Medical Center in Norfolk treated 17 patients; 13 were treated and released, three remain hospitalized in Norfolk and one was transferred to an Omaha hospital.

Providence Medical Center in Wayne treated and released three patients, all from the Pilger area.

Brian Smith, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Valley, said the larger tornado that went through Pilger was an EF4 and the parallel tornado was an EF2.

“You certainly don’t see that very often.  It was the first time I’ve seen that in Nebraska and I’ve been here for 20 years,” Smith said.

Pilger’s water supply lost power, but the water tower was not damaged.

The communities of Wisner, Madison and Norfolk have sent water crews to help repair service. A field representative from DHHS was at the scene Tuesday. Water leaks have been repaired and the system has been flushed. The water is clear and residual disinfectant is sufficient. A “Boil Water” advisory has been issued and will stay in effect until further notice. Testing for contaminants will be conducted by the DHHS Environmental Health Laboratory.


A NEMA field team and the NEMA mobile operations center arrived in Pilger on Tuesday morning to work with local emergency management staff on recovery efforts.

More information, from the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency:


Red Cross

The Wisner shelter (housed in the Wisner-Pilger Jr./Sr. High) will remain open until further notice. 


Red Cross Volunteers

Gov. Dave Heineman said, “I know how Nebraskans think. They want to help. The desire of so many Nebraskans to help their neighbors in this difficult time is greatly appreciated.”

Susan Epps, disaster program manager for the Red Cross, volunteers may arrive at the Wisner-Pilger Jr./Sr. High (801 18th St.) on the west edge of Wisner at 7 a.m. on Wednesday. Volunteers will be bused in to Pilger and separated into groups to perform debris removal. Volunteers must have a photo ID and are encouraged to wear sturdy work shoes, long pants, hats, work gloves, safety glasses and bring insect repellent and sunscreen (lunch will be provided). Volunteers who arrive directly in Pilger will not be allowed to enter the town.

There is nowhere to store donations of goods at this time. Financial donations are preferred and can be made at any Midwest Bank branch, referencing the Pilger disaster.


Nebraska National Guard

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman ordered 20 Nebraska National Guardsmen to state active duty following last evening’s severe storms in northeastern Nebraska.

The Guardsmen, who are primarily from 189th Transportation Company based in Wayne and Norfolk, and five vehicles are being mobilized to support the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency as the agency works with local and county incident commanders and emergency management officials to determine the areas of greatest need.  The Guardsmen will muster at the Wayne Army National Guard readiness center tomorrow morning before deploying to locations as determined by the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency.

Additionally, three Nebraska Army National Guard aviators were called to state active duty to provide support to Governor Heineman who flew to Pilger, Neb., and the surrounding area to survey damage caused by last evening’s storm.


Federal Emergency Management Agency – Region VII

On behalf of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), I would like to express our deepest condolences to the families of those who were killed and injured as a result of several tornadoes, severe winds and large hail that struck central and eastern portions of Nebraska yesterday,” said regional administrator Beth Freeman. “Also, I would like to commend the ongoing work of local and state first responders for the measures taken in the aftermath of these storms to protect lives and provide immediate assistance during this difficult time. FEMA has remained in constant contact with officials at the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) since the severe weather hit. We encourage residents to continue following the instructions of local officials who are still working to save lives and property in the impacted areas.”


Nebraska State Fire Marshal

State Fire Marshal Jim Heine said his office responded to 12 leaking propane tanks Monday night. Fire Marshal staff were onsite performing damage assessment of commercial and residential structures.


Nebraska Department of Agriculture

Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Greg Ibach is encouraging producers who suffered livestock losses due to yesterday’s tornado to keep detailed records documenting those losses as they continue to work to address storm damage.

Documentation could include third-party verification of the loss, such as a statement from a veterinarian or county extension agent, photographs, or receipts for expenses associated with carcass removal / disposal.

Producers are encouraged to contact their local Farm Service Agency to determine what type of documentation might best fit their circumstances. Federal programs such as the Livestock Indemnity Program are available for qualified producers.

NDA has sent a Livestock Emergency Disease Response System (LEDRS) trailer with supplies to the affected area. NDA staff members are helping to coordinate relief efforts from the State Emergency Operations Center and working with sister state agencies such as the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to assure the state is addressing producer needs. NDA will be on-site Wednesday assessing the extent of damage at area feedlots.

Ibach also encourages individuals that have sustained crop damage in recent weeks to share that information with their local Farm Service Agency as well for any additional federal programs that might be available.

Counselors are available to those individuals that are feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the circumstances. Those individuals are encouraged to call the Rural Response Hotline at 800-464-0258.


Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality

Hhundreds of cattle and poultry were killed by the storms," said Jay Ringenberg, deputy director of DEQ. Producers who need assistance with livestock disposal may contact DEQ at 402-471-7436. DEQ will begin contacting individual producers Wednesday.


Nebraska Department of Roads

Highway 15 is closed from Hwy 275 (north of Pilger) to Hwy 32 (south of Pilger). This highway will most likely remain closed through Wednesday for storm response activity.

US Highway 275 is open.


Nebraska State Patrol

The Nebraska State Patrol Mobile Command Post is in Pilger. Troopers were onsite overnight providing security and will continue to assist with resources and assets as needed.


Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services

If people have public health-related questions, they can contact their local health department. Here’s a link to a list of local health departments in the state: http://dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/Documents/contacts.pdf


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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 6/17/2014
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