The tiny Nebraska town of Pilger was a digging out from tragedy Tuesday, a day after at least two people were killed and dozens more were injured after tornadoes roared through parts of the state.

All the residents of Pilger - some 350 people - evacuated their homes, many leaving for shelters in nearby towns.

"More than half of the town is gone - absolutely gone," Stanton County Commissioner Jerry Weatherholt said. "The co-op is gone, the grain bins are gone, and it looks like almost every house in town has some damage. It's a complete mess."

One fatality from Pilger was brought into Faith Regional Medical Center in Norfolk and at least 15 people have been brought in with critical injuries, said Jacque Genovese, the hospital's director of marketing and public information officer for the weather incident.

Emergency crews and residents were sifting through demolished homes and businesses in the town about 80 miles northwest of Omaha.

Stanton County Sheriff Mike Unger estimated that up to 75% of Pilger was heavily damaged or destroyed in the storm. The local school is likely beyond repair, he said.

"It's total devastation," Unger said.

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman declared a state of emergency, and the National Guard was sent in Tuesday to help with cleanup and damage assessment, the Defense Department said.

Photos and videos from other storm chasers in the region showed at least two tornadoes spinning across farmland in eastern Nebraska.

Across the region, there were 30 reports of tornadoes Monday, the Storm Prediction Center reported.

On Tuesday, more severe weather is forecast from the northern Plains to the Great Lakes, but the threat level is not as high as it was on Monday.


Contributing: John Bacon, USA TODAY; Associated Press

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