Church Reaches Out After Nebraska Tornadoes



Great Plains Conference disaster response coordinator, Linda Stewart sent photos following the walking tour of downtown Pilger, Neb., with Governor Dave Heineman. The devastation to the downtown area is significant, as shown.

Stewart along with Great Plains UM disaster response team chairperson, Steve Burnett met this morning with Prairie Rivers District superintendent, Lance Clay; incoming Elkhorn Valley District superintendent, Marvin Neubauer and pastors from nearby United Methodist churches to coordinate efforts. Tool and ERT trailers are coming to Pilger from Beaver Springs, Neb. and temporary office space has been set up in an RV.

Reportedly many livestock have either been killed or will need to be put down in the area. The mother of the deceased 5-year-old girl is in the hospital, critically wounded. Another person was killed in a vehicle.

Red Cross has established a shelter in Wisner, Neb., and the Salvation Army is feeding everyone. Emergency management has control of the site, and the incidence commander plans to conduct a debriefing later today.

Information for volunteers is below. A Facebook page dedicated to this particular disaster response effort will have regular updates as well as the Great Plains' Twitter account,@GPUMC.

Volunteers needed for early response

Early Response Team trained volunteers for Wednesday, June 18, can show up at Wayne UMC at 516 Main Street in Wayne, Neb., no later than 7:30 a.m. to receive some refresher training before the group will head to Pilger.

Volunteers need to come with their own water, lunch, gloves, eye protection, sunscreen, sleeping bag & tools. Please bring rakes, tools, and anything else you have on hand that are needed for early response.

Volunteers who have not previously been trained or who cannot arrive tomorrow are invited to come Thursday, June 19, at 8:30 a.m. for a "mini" ERT training at the First UMC in Wayne. This critical training is for the protection of the volunteers and to ensure their efforts are as effective as possible. Volunteers should be at least 19 years old.

There are no fees for this training but there will be no certification. If you are able to help, please send an email to that includes your name, your church, how many will be in your group, and how long you intend to stay and help.

Tornadoes hit Stanton County

Please keep the people of Stanton County and in particular, the people of Pilger, Neb., in your prayers. One person lost their life due to Monday afternoon’s tornadoes.

Great Plains United Methodist Conference Disaster Response Coordinator Linda Stewart is traveling to Stanton County, Neb., to take part in the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency’s (NEMA) area meeting of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD). Great Plains UM disaster response and United Methodist Committee on Relief are both VOAD organizations. VOAD works to bring all disaster response groups together to best meet the needs of affected areas.

Monday’s mid-afternoon tornadoes swept through Stanton County hitting Pilger and surrounding areas with devastation. Six NEMA employees will be on location early Tuesday morning along with about 20 National Guardsmen according to KOLN TV, out of Lincoln, Neb., to begin to assess the damage.

Governor Dave Heineman is also expected to survey the area around 10:30 a.m.

Stewart invites early responders to be ready to go on a moments notice. She intends on providing an update as soon as the coordinated effort begins.

Already anticipating the need to accommodate work teams, Stewart asks that volunteers and churches able to provide showers and other work-team support in nearby towns contact or call 800-745-2350 and ask for TruDee Little.

Great Plains UM Disaster Response Team Chairperson Steve Burnett is also en route to Pilger and Stanton County, in order to attend the VOAD meeting and to help organize the Great Plains United Methodist Response to the disaster.

Help by giving

United Methodists wanting to help can do so through your local church offering plate to the conference disaster response fund, with the number 975 in the memo line, or donate online. Funds are used to help in times of disaster across the Great Plains Conference.

GPconnect will continue to offer updates and information on ways for United Methodists to engage in disaster response.