Law enforcement and early disaster response teams are currently continue in search and rescue mode in Pilger, NE.  They are digging people out of basements and storm shelters that are covered with debris.

Pilger, NE took a direct hit from a double vortex tornado.   At this time we know that 16 people were critically injured and 1 person was killed.  These statistics may change by morning.  Early reports also indicate that St. John Lutheran Church and it’s parsonage were destroyed.  Pastor Terry Makelin of St. John’s was on a youth trip to Missouri and his wife was in Clearwater, NE.  Terry and the youth are currently homeward bound.  Conversations with Pastor James Carretto of St. Paul, Wisner and Pastor Tim Booth of Faith, Stanton have resulted in reports of safety in each Wisner and Stanton.  However some farm family members of each congregation sustained significant damage, some losing everything.  Pilger residents are being relocated to the Wisner High School gym for immediate shelter.  A disaster response trained pastor has been there this evening to meet them and care for them.

Nebraska District Disaster Response Coordinator Rev. Rod Armon who is the commander of Nebraska National Guard chaplains is in assessment mode.  Pastor Armon is also in touch with the LCMS Disaster Response Team in St. Louis.  A meeting will be arranged either Thursday or Friday for pastors from the West Point, Norfolk and Wayne Circuits as well as Orphan Grain Train and other agencies to coordinate relief efforts.  I have included a couple of photos.  I know Pilger as my hometown is 20 miles to the west.

Lord, have mercy!




Here is the Pastors home and church.


If you can help please send your donation to LCMS Disaster Response at 1333 S. Kirkwood Road
St. Louis, MO 63122-7226.  The best way to do this is to write in the memo line “where most needed”.

You can go to the LCMS Website at and hit the “donate now” button on the front page.