Sen. Mike Johanns has toured a Nebraska community hit hard by tornadoes and it reminds him of a devastating tornado ten years ago.
“This has really been a tough week for northeast Nebraska,” Johanns tells Nebraska reporters during a conference call after his tour of the destruction left in the wake of an EF-4 tornado that roared through the heart of Pilger.
Twin tornadoes formed outside Pilger. The stronger of the two hit the town, destroying houses, businesses, and a school. As much as three-quarters of the town of 375 was wiped out as the tornado passed through the community and then merged with its smaller twin.
The National Weather Service reported two other tornadoes touched down in the vicinity, but they did no damage.
Johanns says he wanted to visit the city first-hand.
“If you visit Pilger, the scene is just wrenching,” according to Johanns. “I walked through what is left of this small town and the widespread devastation is almost indescribable; it’s staggering.”
Still, Johanns sees optimism emerging.
“These folks are determined. There is talk of rebuilding and not giving up and I applaud them for that and we will do everything we can to help them.”
Johanns next traveled to Coleridge in Cedar County. A smaller tornado hit that community, wiping out a few houses and damaging farmsteads.
Johanns compares the destruction he observed in Pilger with that that he observed as governor in the southern Lancaster County of Hallam in 2004.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]