Pilger Nebraska Tornado Victims Receive Donation From Storm Chaser Organization
On June 16th, 2014 twin EF-4 tornadoes devastated the town of Pilger, Nebraska. Storm Assist immediately responded with a special t-shirt fundraiser and the community responded in kind. With funds, purchases and direct donations, Storm Assist was able to give $3,000 back to the Pilger Community Development Fund.
Storm Chaser Marcus Hicks made the drive to Pilger on behalf of Storm Assist to deliver the donation. Here is his story:
Storm Assist Reaches The Town of Pilger
Storm Assist reached Pilger, NE today with funds towards the relief and recovery efforts after twin EF4 tornadoes terrorized the town.
I had the honor of delivering on behalf of Storm Assist (http://stormassist.org) , funds for relief and recovery efforts currently underway in this close knit community of Pilger, NE.
I had a pretty somber drive not knowing what to expect, and with the backdrop of cloud cover and what seemed to be imminent rain, my heart began to sink low as I drew closer to town. When I arrived, my heart made its final decent deep into the pit of my stomach and I was overcome by what I saw. Mountains of debris of what obviously were homes… and then over my shoulder the empty spaces where they use to be overwhelmed me.
As I made the left turn into town, I could see the total devastation of what was the hub of this town; the co-op. It provided grain storage, dry fertilizer and other chemicals, and bulk deliveries of fuel propane and oil. There was also a 24-hr convenience store that provided gasoline and other essential items. It became kind of a gathering place in this rural town.
I decided to park the car and walk around the town to just really understand what I was seeing. There were some buildings, but most were destroyed or completely gone.
There were linemen and women repairing the electrical lines. Utility workers were hard at work trying to restore those very utilities many of us take for granted. For the homes that were left, there were only portable toilets out on the edge of the streets, and I could hear one of the guys shout in excitement as one more street had restored water service.
Though I expected looks of pity and despair from everyone, I saw none. What I saw aside from the workers were a few residents that still had homes leave and head over to the volunteer area for an assignment. So I went too. I saw people from SD, IA, MO and a good number of volunteers pitching in to lend a helping hand. Another older gentleman was tending what was left of his garden and going about his life, as a tarp flapped in the breeze, covering his damaged home. He joked a little, and aside from the appearance of being in a war zone, life seemed okay for him at that moment.
The time was approaching to meet up and present the check so I walked over to the St. Peters Lutheran Church, one of the only easily recognizable buildings in Pilger. Even the firehouse had been destroyed.
I was met by Aaron Baker, a co-op employee and member of the relief and recovery efforts. I presented a check on behalf of Storm Assist for $3000.00.
“The entire town thanks you,” Baker said.
The timing of this donation is at a time when FEMA is matching funds so the rapid response from Storm Assist could not have come at a better time. The outpouring of support is helping Pilger recover and they are extremely grateful. From the line of equipment rolling down the roads coming into Pilger just moments after that devastating tornado to the arrival of Storm Assist, Pilger will surely rebuild.
And no kidding, within seconds of presenting the relief… the sun was shining bright and the clouds were gone.
I stopped and took a small moment of silence to remember little Calista Dixion as I began to pass this sign and made a personal pledge to return Pilger. I’m sure it will be under much better circumstances.
This flag is a recognizable symbol of strength to many and really exemplifies the resolve in Pilger. Thanks to the organizations and people who support Storm Assist, this town will rebuild.
How can you help repair the normal to those affected by devastating weather like Pilger? Please visit http://stormassist.org and think about making a donation. It really does make a difference.