A storm featuring rare twin tornadoes tore through parts of Nebraska on Monday, leaving two dead and destroying much of the rural town of Pilger, officials said Tuesday.
The storm killed a 5-year-old girl and a motorist in his car, a spokeswoman for the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency told the Los Angeles Times. The storm demolished at least half the homes and wiped out all the businesses in Pilger, population 352, she said.
“Our priority right now is to keep everybody safe,” spokeswoman Jodie Fawl said.
Some residents were being allowed to return to their flattened homes to retrieve possessions, but emergency response volunteers are being kept out. Officials have set up barricades around the town to keep everyone away because of fears of fires fueled by leaking propane tanks, she said. Twenty National Guardsmen are on the scene, along with police and emergency response teams from the state and the Red Cross.
The rural area, about 80 miles northwest of Omaha, also sustained heavy damage to its cattle herds and grain storage facilities. A two-story, brick middle school had much of its roof torn off and lost part of its upper floor, Fawl said.
Monday’s storm was part of a larger system that was continuing to move through the Midwest, according to the National Weather Service. Storms were predicted for a large area of the northern portion of the nation as well.