North Platte Recovers from Tornado Damage

By: Kim Eiten Email
By: Kim Eiten Email

In North Platte on Monday, there were sounds of a community recovering.

Remants of furniture and other household goods littered lawns and driveways.

Shattered windows on houses and cars were barely noticeable next to the bright orange "X" painted on brick and metal.

"You're just in shock and you can't believe it really happened to you," homeowner Carla Freeman said.

For Freeman, it is all too real.

Half her home was torn away.

Sunday's tornado ripped off the living room she and her husband had been sitting in just moments before.

"We were close to the hallway and my husband pushed me down and we laid in the hallway," Freeman said. "It was very quick. It was over very quickly but it did a lot of damage in a little bit of time."

A matter of a few windy minutes and their home of thirty-three years disappeared.

Freeman said she doesn't know where to go from here.

"I'm not sure. We'll probably rebuild," she said. "Like I said, we've lived here for thirty-three years. This is our home, so I imagine we'll rebuild."

But their house is just one casualty of the twister.

National Weather Service Meterologist John Stoppkotte said it could be one of the worst North Platte has seen

"The storms were moving fast, probably 50-60 miles per hour last night, so it didn't take long for the tornado to come through and do its damage," he said.

That resonates outside of town along Interstate 80 as well.

If there's any indication of the power of last night's storm it was the crushed semi-truck that could be seen from I-80. The tornado picked up that truck, whipping it into trees and demolishing it into three pieces.

The driver of that semi walked away with few injuries.

With years of truck driving experience himself, his father says he can't believe it.

"The truck is one of the worst ones that I've seen and still have somebody come out of it alive," he said.

Just like so many in North Platte, his son's story could have taken a far worse turn.

"The rain quit," he said. "It got dead silent, and then it hit him."

Witnesses on the interstate said they took cover, watching the tornado move north. They were so distracted by the massive storm cloud that they almost didn't see the mangled semi-trailer.

Gawith said his son's experience was completely opposite. He didn't know what hit him.

"He didn't see it," he said. "He didn't have time to see it. It was so sudden."

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