Residents were allowed to return to their homes in the northeast Nebraska village of Pilger Tuesday, following Monday’s devastating tornadoes. Governor Dave Heineman saw the damage for the first time.
Jim Duncan, bruised and tired, after the tornadoes in Pilger, Nebraska. (Photo by Ryan Robertson, NET News)
The governor met with several area residents and told them all he had declared a state of emergency in Pilger. He added the National Guard would be available to assist if needed.
Two people were killed in the storm. One of those dead was a five-year-old girl. Her family was inside their trailer home when the twisters hit. More than 50 homes were destroyed.
Jim Duncan was in his basement during the storm. Although he made it out alive, he was visibly bruised and battered.
“I was pinned in the basement for a little bit," Duncan said. "Something in the floor supports come over and hit me, and something in the basement was on top of me. We got out from underneath that and all three of us walked out. That’s what I’m real thankful for."
In addition to residential losses, every business in Pilger was also destroyed. Governor Heineman says his office will move swiftly to assess the damage and help those affected.
“People have lost their homes, lost their business. We want to get an assessment of that as quickly as we can, find out whether insurance is going to cover that. We’ve got to figure out the public infrastructure costs because we’ve got to figure that out through all of our emergency management agencies,” Heineman said.
Pilger continues to remain closed off to anyone who is not a resident. The Stanton County Sheriff has also asked volunteers to wait until asked to help before showing up.
Volunteers are now being allowed into Pilger to assist in the cleanup effort. (Updated on 6-18-2014)