Thursday, June 19, 2014

My ties to Pilger, the town in Nebraska destroyed by a tornado

My old church in Pilger, NE after June 16th tornado--all that's left
I understand that the tornado that ripped through the tiny town/village of Pilger, Nebraska  (in northeast Nebraska) on Monday, June 16th, made national (& probably international) news. 

It was one of my home towns.  I grew up on a farm equal distance (about 7 miles each) from both Pilger & Wisner.  I have stronger ties to Pilger because it was where I went to church.  The church (St. John's Lutheran Church) that was completely destroyed by the tornado was my church--where I was baptized, confirmed & married, family funerals.  All my family now lives in Norfolk, NE--20 miles away.  Many of my old farm area neighbors however did suffer damage.  One our family friends lost all their farm buildings but the house was still standing.  However the damage to the house was so extensive that it was considered a total loss and the family is moving out.  I really don't have any news to add to what you can read on the internet, papers, of on TV.  The damage is bad! 

Two years ago Pilger celebrated its 125th Anniversary as a village.  It motto was: "The little town too tought to die".  There really wasn't much commerce in Pilger--a convenience/gas store, post office, bank, senior center, bar/cafe, library, and volunteer fire department and farmer's cooperative.  We'll have to see how many businesses rebuild.  I heard on the TV news that the farmer's coop vowed to rebuild. 

Businesses that did survive:  the library, water tower, city park and swimming pool. 


  1. We've been seeing pictures and hearing stories about the tornadoes that hit up there. I read yesterday about St. John's being destroyed though I hadn't seen the picture until you posted it. To know that a building that was so much a part of your life, where so many important events took place is gone must hit pretty hard. I'm glad your family wasn't hurt. I've seen other communities are sending truckloads of items to help out - water, shovels, storage containers, that type of thing. During such tragic times it's good to see how people try to help.

  2. I just about fell out of my chair when I read your reply to my previous comment and saw this post! I expected you to say "No, we don't live anywhere near where the storm hit, but we got a lot of wind' - or something like that! Amazing to know the devastating tornado (or rather 'twin' tornados) wasn't really that far away in a place to which you have deep ties! The photo of your church is haunting! It's also amazing to hear about folks you know, and of their losses. I'm glad your family and you are OK. It's good to know there's a outpouring of support.

  3. I now live in Omaha which is 90 miles from Pilger. This week, Omaha is once again host to the College World Series baseball tournament. So we have all the motel/hotel rooms filled with out of town guests. I can't imagine what they are thinking knowing how relatively close they are to such major storms. Right now there are storm clouds over the stadium where games are being played.

  4. My brother has been highly involved with tornado cleanup, taking time off from work to help. He is working on the storm damage in areas before and after the tornado went through Pilger.

  5. I now live in Colorado, but was originally from Omaha. I keep up on Nebraska news through a Facebook Group called Nebraska Through the Lens. They have posted quite a few pictures of Pilger and the volunteer work that is going on.