Eighty-one Seconds

The Attack and Aftermath as Tornadoes Hit Pilger, Stanton, Wakefield and Winser, Nebraska

Eighty-one seconds. That’s all the time it took a diabolical tornado to crash through Pilger, Nebraska, on June 16, 2014, destroying more than 40 percent of its homes plus its business district.

Eighty-one seconds. That’s all the time it took for a tornado to destroy farms of the same size on the same day throughout the countryside near Stanton, Pilger, Wisner and Wakefield, Nebraska.

Four tornadoes, intent on destruction, were even more infamous that day because two were twins, spawned simultaneously from the same supercell. One charged through Pilger and its sister dropped down to begin its rampage just east of the community.

Eighty-one Seconds: The Attack and Aftermath as Tornadoes Hit Pilger, Stanton, Wakefield and Wisner, Nebraska, gives first-hand accounts of the direct hits and near misses of June 16th, along with the aftermath to follow. With information derived from more than 200 interviews with victims, rescuers and volunteers in hand, you’ll see the kind of havoc four tornadoes can produce in 81 swift—but eternal—seconds of time.


“Eighty-One Seconds” is a well done collection of personal accounts of what the victims of the four tornados that swept Stanton, Pilger, Wakefield and Wisner Nebraska on June 16 2014 did while the tornados were sweeping up everything in their path. All four tornados are rated at E4, meaning winds in excess of 160 miles per hour. And two of them were sibling tornados tearing through the countryside and cities side by side. Pilger itself was the worst, having over 1/3 of the town flattened, the entire downtown destroyed, and the major industry of the village destroyed. One church is entirely gone. Every building in town suffered damage.

Mrs. Topp has done an excellent job of piercing these accounts into a comprehensive story of the late afternoon horror that swept over North East Nebraska that day. The book is very readable and heartfelt. There is not whining nor wimpering. Most of the accounts are very factual, but reflect the emotions and issues of the individuals. The scattered pictures help tell the story.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who lives in NE Nebraska, or who knows some of the many individuals whose stories are told. I also recommend this book for anyone interested in how a tornado affects those in the path of a tornado.

Profile Photo LaRayne Topp

About LaRayne Topp

Tornado survivors, disaster responders and volunteers share their stories in the book Eighty-one Seconds: The Attack and Aftermath as tornadoes Hit Pilger, Stanton, Wakefield and Wisner, Nebraska. The book tells the stories of those involved as tornadoes severely impacted four Northeast Nebraska communities in June of 2014.

Author LaRayne Topp completed more than 200 interviews of those involved in the events: those directly hit by the storm; law enforcement, emergency management, and others who responded; along with personnel from assisting agencies, volunteers and others.

All books by LaRayne Topp

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