Huge clean up effort in Pilger - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE;

Huge clean up effort in Pilger

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By: Brittany Paris

Tattered buildings, leveled lots, by all accounts mass destruction left behind by Monday’s tornado outbreak.

If you stepped outside at all Wednesday, you know it was hot. But that did not discourage the 1,800 volunteers who have come to Pilger pick up the pieces of the small town of about 350.

If you compare how many people live in Pilger to how many volunteered, it’s about five times as many.

People from all corners of Nebraska as well as the country were out there.

Right now, they’re concentrating on picking up debris and sorting wood from metal from bricks to make it easier for the heavy equipment to pick it up and get it out of town.

Volunteers say they’re also trying to recover pictures, quilts, anything that’s worth saving.

They told us that’s the hardest part because they’re sorting through people’s lives.

"It's really emotional, it really is. But it feels good to help out,” Fred Schelert, a volunteer, said.

"It's unimaginable. You know, if it happened to me, I would be so overwhelmed where to start, you know. So every little bit helps. Just picking up the rubble," Cynthia Martin, a volunteer from Omaha, said.

"Trying to work forward. I think there's been a lot of progress made, but as you can see as much progress as has been made there's still a lot of work to be done," Sheriff Mike Unger, Stanton County, said.

The town is still without power.

Unger says 75 to 80 percent of the town has been destroyed or damaged, and by that he means damaged to the point of not being repaired.

But on the minds of everyone, the two people, a 5-year-old girl and a 74-year-old man who were killed by Monday’s tornadoes.

The town can still use more volunteers and man power, so if you’d like to help out, head to Wisner-Pilger High School at 801 18th Street, Wisner, NE 68791.

They’re bussing volunteers to Pilger starting at 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. They ask that you show up no later than 3 p.m. because that is when the last bus will head out.

Officials are asking for an I.D. and recommend some sun screen and a bottle of water.

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