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Nebraska village digs out

BY KRISTINA KNIGHT | JACKSON. NE | August 22, 2001

Cleanup has begun in this village of 205 people, as families try to sort out what can be salvaged and what must be destroyed following a tornado that damaged nearly three dozen homes and the local school.

According to Don Dwyer of the Siouxland Chapter of the American Red Cross eight homes were destroyed, six more have major damage and 19 have some damage. Those numbers are expected to increase as insurance adjusters continue to investigate the destruction.

“Insurance will cover most homes,” Dwyer said. “The problem is, some homes had structure insurance but not contents insurance. And others had contents insurance but no structure insurance. Those are the people who will need the most help.”

Power has been restored and roads opened, but still, five days after the devastating twister struck there is no gas or water service. Instead, residents are boiling water, or using a shipment of water from the Orphan Grain Train (OGT) in Norfolk, NE. OGT. brought in a 5,000-gallon tanker of water Monday for residents.

“They called and said ‘Do you need water?’” said Dwyer, “And I said, ‘We need water’ and they got it to us.”

Father Dick Whiteing of St. Patrick’s Parish said, “It [the help] has been tremendous. We’ve had a lot of support from across Nebraska and Iowa.”

Perhaps the most devastating is the destruction of the Jackson Public School Building that has served students since the 1800’s. The school has been declared a total loss, and for now, students will learn in the basement of the Providence Community Hall, part of St. Patrick’s Church. School is set to begin next week.

The Salvation Army and the Red Cross are assisting in the cleanup and providing food for volunteers and shelter for some families. Dwyer said the Siouxland Chapter will also help those who lost their homes with first month’s rent.

Father Whiteing said during a tour of the village Tuesday, he "saw people doing cleanup, all the major work has been done, but people are still picking up the pieces…The town has had so much activity this week that it seems really quiet today. Over the next few days we just need some time to adapt to what’s happened. We need time for some psychological and spiritual healing. Time to really reflect on what has happened.”

The Lutheran A.A.L. is among response organizations that have volunteered to help families with grants and loans for rebuilding and replacing homes and belongings.


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