(SOURCE) A small town was devastated Monday afternoon when two tornadoes touched down simultaneously in northeast Nebraska, killing one person, critically injuring at least 16 more people and sending rescue crews scrambling to dig for others who might be buried under the rubble.
At least one of the tornadoes slammed into the town of Pilger, a community of about 350 people 75 miles northwest of Omaha, the National Weather Service reported.
Officials are also investigating a traffic fatality that occurred about 2.5 miles east of Pilger, according to a statement from the Cuming County Sheriff’s Department. It was not immediately clear whether the death was a result of the tornadoes.
The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency said emergency crews were on the ground in Pilger and in the nearby communities of Wisner and Stanton searching for possible further victims trapped under debris.
Emergency officials told NBC station WOWT of Omaha that the tornado tunneled down Main Street, destroying every business.
“It’s a complete mess,” he said.
The state Highway Patrol closed all entrances to Pilger, allowing only emergency personnel to enter or leave.
“This is a significant storm, and one that I have never seen the likes of, ever. Really,” said Greg Postel, a severe weather specialist for The Weather Channel.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” said Larry Nelson, whose home was destroyed.
Marilyn Andersen, a neighbor, was in tears at Nelson’s loss.
“Oh, my God, it was devastating,” she said. “He has nothing — nothing but the clothes on his back.”
“It was like God dragged two fingernails across the land,” Gregg Moeller, a teacher in the Wisner-Pilger public schools, told the Norfolk Daily News.
“Oh, my God, the damage is unbelievable,” Moeller said.
A tornado caused major damage Monday in Pilger, Nebraska.