Pilger, NE -
As residents and businesses in the village of Pilger keep cleaning up from last week’s tornado, their rural neighbors have been facing their own devastation out of the spotlight. The ag community in Stanton, Dixon, and Cuming counties is trying to recover from the June 16 destructive storms too. The big grain bins that once made up part of Pilger’s “skyline,” now lay scattered and wrecked across what’s left of the town. Farmers Co-Op President Andrew Becker says they lost their gas station, grocery store, and office to the deadly tornado too. “Since this was the main, the headquarters, that took out our server and all of our computer systems, so that’s our focus right now - we have got all the accounting ladies and everything working on that,” says Becker. Beyond Pilger, the storm tore up farms and feedlots as it swept through multiple counties. Josh Alexander says they had only injured cattle at Alexander Cattle & Farms, but some of their neighbors lost hundreds. “It’s a learning process, we’ll definitely try to take care of our animals - first and foremost is their welfare,” he says. Their farm is three miles away from Pilger, but tin, trash, and everything else the tornado picked up in town is now scattered across thousands of acres. Friends and family were helping walk fields and pick up the pieces littered amongst the knee-high corn. “There’ll be debris for years and years to come, it’s in the tree lines, it’s in the fence lines, and the feedlot - it’s everywhere,” says Alexander. State ag officials say producers should talk with local Farm Service Agencies about how to keep track of their losses for insurance and disaster declarations. “We’re taking a lot of pictures, just so we have an idea of what was there because we are cleaning up and they’ll want to see what we’ve done,” says Alexander. It’s hard to put a price tag on the damage as assessment of crops, fences, facilities, buildings, and livestock continues. For now these businesses are taking it one step at a time.
“That’s what we’re going to focus on right now, is getting the operation up and running, because we still have customers to serve,” says Becker.
“We have a ton of friends and we couldn’t be any more thankful, it makes us realize that this is a great community and a great place to live and it shows true friendship,” says Alexander. The Alexander family also lost a house to the tornado, but they’re looking forward to rebuilding, as is the Co-Op. Becker says they want to redo as much of their operation in Pilger as they can.