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Second round of damaging tornadoes strikes Nebraska, death toll reaches two

SHARE Second round of damaging tornadoes strikes Nebraska, death toll reaches two

OMAHA, Neb. — Deadly tornadoes struck Nebraska for the second day in a row as small towns cleaned up after wind damage and flooding.

One tornado struck Coleridge, about 30 miles north of Norfolk in northeastern Nebraska, killing a man who was pinned under an overturned tractor, said Corey King of the National Weather Service in Valley.

The tornado roared through the north end of Coleridge late Monday, uprooting trees, downing power lines and blowing roofs off houses.

"I'm in my bedroom right now, looking at a tree on my house," said Michael Biltoft, an electrician in Coleridge.

On Sunday, storms spawned seven twisters in southern Nebraska, poured an estimated foot of rain on Hebron and pounded Aurora with hail the size of cantaloupes.

Sunday's tornadoes killed one man in Deshler. This week's two deaths are the first tornado fatalities in Nebraska since 1988.

At least 100 homes and 25 businesses were severely damaged in Deshler, a town of about 900 people near the Kansas state line. Four houses were leveled to their foundations.

Russ Wassom said he and his wife and 5-year-old son spent several hours in their basement while a tornado lingered in the area.

"It would go one way and turn around and come back — like it didn't know which way it wanted to go," he said.

Flooding isolated several people in their homes or cars in the Deshler area.

About 20 miles south of Deshler in Kansas, a tornado damaged three houses Sunday in a rural area north of Courtland, state officials said, but no injuries were reported.

Nebraska has fewer tornado deaths than some of its neighbors because it is sparsely populated, with 1.7 million people spread across 77,000 square miles, said Al Dutcher, state climatologist. Most of the 52 tornadoes it averages each year strike in its central and southern sections, away from the population centers of Omaha and Lincoln to the east, Dutcher said.