Tornadoes hit Nebraska: 'It Was Like God Dragged 2 Fingernails'

More than half of Pilger destroyed.

Published 17 June 2014  |  
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Two tornadoes hit Pilger, Nebraska on Monday.

A small town over 80 miles from Omaha was devastated Monday when two tornadoes touched down about one mile from each other.

More than half of Pilger, Nebraska was destroyed, and 19 people were injured. A five-year-old girl was killed.

Pilger has a population of about 360 people who had less than an hour to prepare themselves before the tornadoes struck.

"The weather service alerted residents as early as 3:41 p.m. that a tornado was headed toward them and would arrive at 4:10 p.m," the Omaha World-Herald reported. "At 4:12 p.m., the weather service said it would arrive 4:15 p.m. The storm hit about 4:18 p.m."

Stanton County Sheriff Mike Unger was surprised at the low loss of life.

"There definitely should have been multiple fatalities," he told the World-Herald.

The town, however, was 50 to 75 percent destroyed.

"Houses are plumb gone," Stanton County Commissioner Jerry Weatherholt said, according to the Associated Press. "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."

Also destroyed were the town's fire station, middle school, convenience store, post office, city hall, St. John's Lutheran Church, and Midwest Bank.

"It was like God dragged two fingernails across the land," a resident, Gregg Moeller, told the World-Herald.

A five-year-old was killed inside a mobile home on Main St, and a woman inside the mobile home was critically injured. Of the 19 injured by the storm, 16 are in critical condition.

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman declared a state of emergency, and Pilger was evacuated last night. Shelter, food, water, and beds were offered at Wisner-Pilger Jr.-Sr. High School in nearby Wisner. Schools Superintendent Chad Boyer said the town's loss is tremendous.

"I just have to use one word -- devastation," he told Fox News. "It's a tremendous loss all around the town. Certainly, our thoughts and prayers are with the community."

Severe thunderstorms and flash flooding is expected across the Midwest, Great Lakes, and the Plains through Wednesday.

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