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'Pilger is Gone' - Twin Tornadoes Flatten Neb. Town

June 17, 2014

Guardian (UK)

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Rare twin tornadoes have flattened the tiny farming town of Pilger in Nebraska, killing a motorist and a 5-year-old girl, and damaging almost every house in the area.

Pilger`s 350 residents evacuated their homes after the powerful twisters hit the area on Monday afternoon, and Nebraska State Patrol closed all roads into town.

"Pilger is gone," said Sanford Goshorn, director of emergency management for Stanton County. "The tornado cut right through the centre of town."

Stanton County Sheriff Mike Unger estimated that 50% to 75% of Pilger was heavily damaged or destroyed and the school is probably beyond repair. "It`s total devastation," Unger said.

Residents began returning yesterday to assess the damage to battered homes, businesses, a church and school.

The storm was part of a larger system that started to track across the US midsection on Monday afternoon, with more storms expected this week.

The Stanton county sheriff`s office said a 5-year-old child was killed in Pilger on Monday but did not identify the child. Stanton County Sheriff`s deputy Josh Bennett said the child was a girl. Unger said that a motorist also died in a single-vehicle accident east of Pilger as the storm pounded the area. State patrol confirmed that a male driver died in Cuming county. At least 19 people were taken to hospitals.

The National weather service said the two twisters touched down within a mile of each other. Officers planned to examine the area to determine the intensity of the unusual twin tornadoes, said Barbara Mayes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Valley.

"It`s less common for two tornadoes to track together for so long, especially with that same intensity," she said. "By no means is it unprecedented. But we don`t see it often."

Nebraska governor Dave Heineman declared a state of emergency, and the National Guard was preparing to help with the cleanup.

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