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"That's What a Small Town's All About"


BEAVER CROSSING, Neb. -- "My main objective is to keep everybody going."

Beaver Hardware owner Kenny Pankoke has been running on adrenaline for the past week.

"We've been busy and I haven't gotten a lot of sleep but we'll make through it."

It started in the wake of Sunday's tornado. His business was damaged but not destroyed, and shortly after patching up some leaks and trying to get sleep on a couple sacks of brome grass, he'd be one of the busiest men in town.

"I didn't sleep but by five o' clock the next morning I pulled the generator off the shelf and got the computer running at least and at six o' clock in the morning people started coming in and it's been going non stop ever since."

That's when Pankoke realized his mission: stay inside so everybody could take care of what was outside. He knew everyone would need tools, but wasn't ready to make a fortune.

"I'm not worried about making money right now, I'm worried about getting the town back into shape at least until we get it cleaned up."

He's handed out freebies, loans, and even taken the time to make chains for chainsaws at no charge.

"That's what a small town's all about."

Across the street, Doug Cunningham fixes what took two-and-a-half years to build, and only 30 seconds to be ruined: his bar. But instead of feeling sorry for themselves, Cunningham and his family put the needs of others first.

"The first couple days we did a lot of feeding the town."

Cunningham says on top of working the grill and fixing his bar, he hasn't even got around to touching something else of his that's nearly destroyed.

"We haven't even started working on our house yet."

Selfless acts by two Nebraskan's who know they're not alone.

"We had tremendous volunteers," said Pankoke. "I had probably 40 to 50 people here Monday morning helping me so that I could help everybody else keep going. That was amazing, it's amazing."


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