Helping Pilger: Volunteers Start Work, Financial Donations Sought


Many agencies are still in disaster response mode in Pilger, but recovery efforts are underway with the first wave of volunteers entering the torn up town on Wednesday.

Officials estimate about 1,800 volunteers put on work gloves to help out the northeastern Nebraska community that was mostly destroyed by tornados on June 16.

Buildings lay crumbled; metal, glass, and lumber are scattered all over town. Volunteers came as individuals, families, and service groups, and joined residents with cleaning up and sorting out belongings from the debris.

Many say it’s a sad situation, but for now neighbors are just trying to help neighbors.

“I thought of the little girl who was killed [in Pilger], and my hope is renewed as I think about the young people [volunteering],” says Paul Ehrenberger, a volunteer from Schuyler who came with a Rotary youth service group. “It’s a wonderful way for them to try to serve and to know how to live life, what life is for.”

“Everybody is just – it’s wonderful,” says Joan Lueninghoener Johnson, a volunteer from Norfolk whose family lived in Pilger. “The people I’ve met from Iowa today, the people I’ve met from just other communities in Nebraska – it’s extremely wonderful and I thank them very much, it’s going to be a long process.”

Volunteer help is needed again on Thursday. The process will be the same – volunteers need to report to Wisner Pilger High School in Wisner to check in, be briefed on safety, and then be bussed to Pilger.

Other Ways to Help:

Officials say right now one of the best ways to contribute is financially through a disaster relief agency or a fund set up for Pilger. Here are a few ways:

The Salvation Army - Click HERE to visit or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY. Donors may contribute $10 via their phone by text messaging the word STORM to 80888, and confirming the donation with the word, “Yes.”

American Red Cross - Click HERE to learn more about Red Cross Disaster Relief, or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Orphan Grain Train - Donations can be sent to Box 1466, Norfolk, 68702, or dropped off at the office located at 601 West Phillip Ave. in Norfolk. Individuals can also donate online by clicking HERE.

Pilger Community Development Fund - Donations can be made at any Midwest Bank referencing “Pilger Emergency Fund” or mailed to Pilger Emergency Fund, c/o Midwest Bank, Norfolk Branch, PO Box 886, Norfolk, NE 68702-0886.

Pilger Relief and Rebuild Fund via Heartland United Way - Click HERE to learn more and make a donation.

Stanton Tornado Relief Fund - A fund for six rural Stanton families displaced by the storms is set up through the Stanton State Bank. Donations for these specific families can be made at the bank, or by mail - Stanton Tornado Relief Fund, Stanton State Bank, PO Box 437, Stanton, NE 68779.

Pilger/Stanton Tornado Relief Fund - A fund for both communities is set up through the Stanton State Bank. Donations can be made at the bank, or by mail - Stanton Tornado Relief Fund, Stanton State Bank, PO Box 437, Stanton, NE 68779.