Tornadoes are always menacing. But two of them, side-by-side, is as horrifying as it is unusual. Double the terror, double the noise — and, sometimes, double the destruction.
Officials didn’t know for sure how much destruction there was Monday night after the twin twisters, separated by a mile at one point, ripped through Nebraska.
They weren’t certain which twister finally went where — or which one all but destroyed the town of Pilger, 60 miles southwest of Sioux City, Ia.
It wrecked much of the town, claiming at least one life — that of a 5-year-old — and injuring at least 19 others, according to the Associated Press.
“More than half of the town is gone — absolutely gone,” Stanton County Commissioner Jerry Weatherholt told the AP. “The co-op is gone, the grain bins are gone, and it looks like almost every house in town has some damage. It’s a complete mess.”
Those who saw it said it was chilling.
“It was terribly wide,” Marianne Pesotta told KETV. “I had to get out of there. I drove east. I could see how bad it was.”
Those who survived it said it was terrifying.
“Our ears started popping … and we heard a swishing sound,” Ryan Kruger told the Omaha World-Herald. He and five of his co-workers hunkered down in a vault at the Farmer’s Cooperative. “About the time we figured it was over, the roof caved in.”
Darin Schneider told the newspaper he took shelter near a bridge at the lake, wrapping his body around a steel beam.
“It picked up my lower torso when it came through. But I gripped my legs back to the beam and got my bearings,” he said. “I was scared as hell. But if I wasn’t near the bridge, and I tried to make a mad dash for safety, I wouldn’t have made it.”
Emergency management operations officer Earl Imler told CNN late Monday that Nebraska is still in response mode, collecting damage reports from local officials. But they won’t know the intensity of the storms until late Tuesday at the earliest, after crews have examined the area, Barbara Mayes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, told the AP.
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