Lincoln Journal Star from Lincoln, Nebraska on June 18, 2014 · A6
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Lincoln Journal Star from Lincoln, Nebraska · A6

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Lincoln, Nebraska
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Wednesday, June 18, 2014
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A6
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C M Y K LJS_STAR-2014-6-18-A6_01 ••• A6 Wednesday, June 18, 2014 Lincoln Journal Star By NICHOLAS BERGIN Lincoln Journal Star The tornado crushed Amy and Troy Kremlacek’s home as they huddled over five children, protecting their bodies with their own. Amy doesn’t remember much of when the tornado hit, she said Tuesday as she sat in her husband’s hospital room in Norfolk. Their satellite signal to their television had gone out, so the newly married couple listened to news about the weather on the radio Monday evening: Tor- nadoes were headed toward their rented farmhouse a couple of miles west of Stanton. Amy works as an aide for Stanton Community Schools and is running a small home daycare for the summer. On Monday, the five kids there ranged from age 3 to her 11-year-old son, Christian French. She ordered the kids into the unfinished basement. They knew what to do. They had practiced the drill a week ago when a hail storm blew through. The wind screamed as the tornado came closer. Amy said it sounded like a train barreling down on them. She and Troy — mar- ried just three weeks ago — threw blankets over the kids, then covered as many of them as they could with their own bodies and told them to hold still and wait for it to pass. The house imploded around them. The furnace hit Troy’s back. Then something, they think bricks, slammed into his head and knocked him out. A beam hit Amy. The pandemonium, she said, seemed to last half a minute before the children’s cries replaced the howl of the wind. Troy quickly regained consciousness, and they consoled the children, told them firemen would be there soon to help. Amy used her cell phone to call 911. “The kids were very good. They followed all my in- structions,” she said during a telephone interview on Tuesday. It was the second time devastation has struck Troy’s family. In 2001, an electrical fire consumed his home in Fullerton and claimed the life of his 3-year-old son, said his mother, Gladyce Kremlacek. “He didn’t want to see anything like that happen again,” his wife said. “Even though he was knocked out, he got right up and did what he had to do.” Troy and Christian spot- ted a hole in the debris that led outside. By the time they were able to climb out, emergency respond- ers and family members had arrived. Troy’s sister, Lori Web- ster, is a Stanton rescue EMT and got a page as she was driving home from work in Norfolk. She realized it was her brother’s house and rushed to help dig them out. Alex Lorimor, Troy’s stepson, had gotten off work in Norfolk and talked with his dad a few minutes before the tornado hit. He arrived home just in time to see Troy being car- ried to an ambulance on a stretcher. The house, five outbuild- ings and four of the family’s five vehicles were destroyed. The only vehicle not demol- ished, Lorimor’s 1977 Chevy truck, was badly damaged. They had auto insurance, and Amy said they’d talked with insurance companies last week about renters in- surance but hadn’t signed up yet. Tuesday, family and friends combed through the ruins looking for any- thing salvageable. In a tree, they found a bearded dragon still in its terrarium that had been on the second floor of the house. The lizard, which Lorimor got 10 years ago, was unharmed. They also found the keys to Lorimor’s truck. “It kind of makes me happy to know I can drive it away from here,” he said. Troy remained at Faith Regional Health Services Tuesday evening as medi- cal personnel evaluated and treated his injuries. Amy and the children were re- leased after treatment. Reach the writer at 402-473-7304 or nbergin@journalstar.com. Fol- low him on Twitter at @ljsbergin. TornAdo coverAge BODY BASICS ISYOUR SOURCE FOR HARDtO FInD FItnESS EqUIpmEnt AdjustAble tride ellipticAl iners ne true nce VibrAti trAiner by bh Fitness All prOducts shOWn nOW On sAle! s trA by OctA endurA On “KeepinG lincOln Fit FOr 25 yeArs” 56th & hwy 2 • AlAmo PlAzA 402-423-4411 www.nebraskafitness.com rOWinG MAchines by liFecOre Fitness lAterAl trAiner by helix seAted steppers by nu-step & liFestep • Stop in to try them out today! • We carry solutions for all your fitness needs! • Same as Cash Financing • FREE 90 Mile Delivery ($150 Value) DAVE TUNGE/Dakota Aerials This aerial photo shows the devastated town of Pilger on Tuesday. On Monday, a storm packing rare dual tornadoes tore through the tiny farming town in northeast Nebraska, killing a 5-year-old girl, leaving grain bins crumpled like discarded soda cans and flattening dozens of homes. Couple shields children with bodies as tornado hits home GWYNETH ROBERTS/Lincoln Journal Star Friends and family of Troy and Amy Kremlacek work to salvage belongings from the rural Stanton home struck by Monday’s tornado. Troy and Amy took shelter from the storm with five children in the home’s basement. The Associated Press PILGER — The brother of the young girl killed in Mon- day’s tornado said his moth- er is in a medically induced coma in Omaha. Cody Murphree released a statement Tuesday say- ing his mother, 42-year- old Kandi Murphree, was being treated after the tor- nado destroyed their mo- bile home on Main Street in Pilger. His sister, 5-year-old Calista Dixon, was one of two people killed in the storm. The statement says the tornado did not seriously harm a 4-year-old sister, who was not identified. The statement was released through his employer, Heri- tage Homes of Nebraska in Wayne. No funeral arrangements have been made for Calista Dixon. The statement says donations are needed for girls’ clothing and men’s clothing, nonperishable food items and possible help with housing for the two surviving siblings. The other victim from Monday’s tornado out- break was a 74-year-old man killed when his vehicle left the roadway during the storm. The Cuming County Sheriff’s Office said David A. Herout of Clarkson was thrown from the vehicle around 4:50 p.m. on a coun- ty road about 2.5 miles east of Pilger. The fatalities were the first tornado-related deaths in Nebraska since one person died in a torna- do that hit Hallam on May 22, 2004. Monday’s deaths bring to five the number of tornado-related deaths in Nebraska since 1987. Pilger twisters claim 2 lives Residents recount Monday’s hours of terror ■ storm notes Pam Lempke sat in her car with her parents, crying. They were a mile away from home in Pilger, sitting in the rain in the Linda’s Cafe parking lot at the intersection of U.S. 275 and Ne- braska 15 as the end of Monday’s storm rolled by. Earlier in the day, they had headed to Norfolk to pick up some groceries. Around 4 p.m. they overheard someone say there was a tornado headed to Pilger. Just over a mile away was home: a modest pale blue home with white shutters and a wrap-around deck. Whether the house, just past the trees and out of sight, was still standing was a mystery. “I don’t want to go home to rubble,” Pam said. Her mother cried in the front seat. Vilma Carstens has two forms of cancer and is on her ninth year of a “you’ll live for 10 years” diagnosis. Her mom’s gall bladder has been taken out, her knees replaced. Certainly, her home of 25 years in Pilger wouldn’t have to be. After an hour of waiting, they were let into town. They got out a block from their house and started walking. A man in a yellow vest stopped them. “You can’t come in.” “We live here,” Lempke interrupted. The man shook his head and walked away. They arrived at their house, which was miraculously unscathed. School likely a total loss Wisner-Pilger schools superinten- dent Chad Boyer was among those lined up Tuesday morning on a highway just outside Pilger, looking to assess the damage done to the district’s middle school. The two-story, brick building had much of its roof torn off and lost part of its upper floor in Monday’s storm, officials said. Boyer sat behind the wheel of a truck pulling a small utility trailer in the line to get into town. His plan was to salvage what he could from the school. Boyer said he’s just grateful the tornadoes didn’t hit while classes were in session. More damage near Wakefield Ronnie and Corliss Krusemark of rural Wakefield may believe light- ning doesn’t strike the same place twice. “Tornadoes are a different story,” Corliss said. Tornadoes struck their family for a second time on Monday, destroy- ing the 1984 home the Kruse- marks built on their farm 8 miles south of Wakefield. It marks the second home the family has lost to a tornado in eight months. Their son and daughter-in-law, Matt and Traci Kruse- mark, lost their home in a twister two miles south of Wayne on Oct. 4. As the crow flies, the couples reside 10 to 12 miles from one another. Being close is one thing; having history cruelly repeat itself is quite another. Ronnie Krusemark poked fun at himself for not remembering exactly when this storm hit. It was either 5:18 p.m. or 5:20 p.m. on Monday. One of those times represents the minute Matt and Traci lost their home; the other marks the time his home blew apart. He said this about his laughing spell: “I’ve cried enough about it.” Watching it unfold Dennis Wolverton was sleeping when his wife woke him. “There’s a storm coming,” she said. “A tornado.” See StorM noteS, Page A7

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