Pray for Pilger

Written June 18th, 2014

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Tara Reese of Pilger, along with her husband, Adam, had just minutes before the storm hit to get to safety. They spent that time helping an elderly neighbor get down into her basement, eventually taking shelter there as well, along with their dogs. A few minutes later they could hear windows busting out. Around 3:45 p.m. on May 16, 2014, twin tornadoes utterly decimated the town of Pilger, leaving approximately 50-75% of it in ruin. Several recent reports have indicated that at least one of the tornadoes could have been as strong as an EF-4. Even after the tornadoes passed through the town, it seemed to Tara as though it wasn’t over. “You could see the tornadoes going down both sides of a cornfield, looking like they’d come back this way,” she said. “They picked up grain bins and tossed them like they were sardine cans.”

Tara’s family was one of the lucky ones. After a year and a half of extensive remodeling, their home was damaged by the tornadoes – but it was still there, and one of the few that is. Window AC units were shoved back into the house by the tornadoes, the doors were pushed in, windows were broken, siding was destroyed, but they considered themselves to be very, very lucky. “All material items are replaceable,” she added.

Tara is the sister of Tanya Robinette of Verdigre, who was by her side Tuesday, helping however she could. Tara and Adam’s vehicles were totaled, making it that much more difficult to get around and do what needs to be done.

Looking through their belongings, Tara realized she had no clothes to change into. A window in their closet was destroyed and most of her clothes were missing. Looking for a pair of jeans in particular, she was relieved when a neighbor said he found some pants and wondered if they were hers. He had found them in a tree. The Rese’s lawnmower, now a twisted piece of metal, was also found in his yard.

Tara said that the firefighters and emergency personnel were all “on top of everything,” commenting that the way small towns work together is inspiring. She said they went from lot to lot checking on people, accounting for everyone as best as they could, marking structures as they went along so they’d know what and whom had been checked on.

After their harrowing experience, Tara seemed in okay spirits, considering. The damage to their own house was a blow, but more sobering was finding children’s stuffed animals in their yard. The gentlemen behind them lost everything, she said. “He was happy when he found the $70 that had been in his wallet, but he couldn’t find the wallet it had been in.”

“It’s sad,” she said. “Just so very sad.”

Donations may be directed to the following:
• Pinnacle Bank-Wisner has set up two benefit accounts to help out those affected by the recent tornados in Stanton and Cuming Counties.
The first account is listed under Pilger Tornado Relief Fund. The funds in this account will be distributed to those in Pilger and Rural Cuming County who were directly affected by the tornadoes. The second account is for an employee of Pinnacle Bank-Wisner, Mary Donner, who just started with us on June 9. Her house was heavily damaged and many belongings were lost. You may donate to either of these funds at any Pinnacle Bank.
• Midwest Bank has set up a Pilger Relief Fund. Donations can be mailed to: Pilger Community Development Fund, c/o Midwest Bank, P.O. Box 346, Pilger, NE 68768, or you can drop your monetary donations off at any Midwest Bank.

From the Red Cross:

How to Help Clean-Up:

All volunteers must have a photo I.D. 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).

Volunteering in Pilger:
People must be at least 18 years of age and will work in from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.. They are required to arrive at the Wisner-Pilger Jr./Sr. High (801 18th Street) on the west edge of Wisner. They will then be bused in to Pilger and separated into groups to perform debris removal. Volunteers must have a photo I.D. 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). Returning volunteers will NOT be allowed into Pilger without going to the school first. Volunteers who arrive directly in Pilger will not be allowed to enter the town.

Volunteering in surrounding communities:
Many people have come forward wanting to help other communities who have been impacted by these tornadoes. To volunteer for tornado recovery in Wayne and Dixon counties, people need to report to the Wakefield Fire Hall, 405 Main Street between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. daily until further notice. Minimum age of volunteers must be 19 years of age, or bring parental consent if younger.

 

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