Brother of Pilger, NE tornado victim copes with tragedy
By Robert Lowe, Multimedia Journalist/ Weekend Anchor - email
Just four months since Cody Murphree, his two younger sisters Robin and Cali and his mother Kandi moved to Pilger, they encountered the storm that couldn't be stopped.
Schools, houses, banks and the post office all gone. But, all replaceable.
Yet, Murphree lost something to the June 16th tornados that can't be replaced: His sister.
"The hardest part of everyday is realizing that nobody is here," Murphree said.
Murphree was working in Wayne, Nebraska, when his supervisor informed him that a tornado was heading straight for Pilger.
He immediately called his mom to warn her. Minutes later, a second tornado touched down.
"I called my mom again and told her you need to get to grandma's house so that ya'll will be safe," Murphree said.
But it was too late.
"I waited 10 to 15 minutes and tried calling back to see if they made it over there, but got no answer," Murphree said.
Murphree left work and headed to his family's mobile home.
"I couldn't get into Pilger,” Murphree said. “I was out on the dirt road. I just got the call that they've been transferred to the hospital, so I turned around and went."
Four hours after Murphree arrived at a Norfolk hospital, he was finally able to locate his family.
"They showed me where Robin was and told me my mother had been transferred to Omaha," Murphree said.
Robin suffered minor injuries and Murphree's mother was in a coma. In shock, Murphree took to the grim task of identifying his little sister.
"It was just devastating. Sweet loving she was the one who just brightened up everyone's day,” Murphree said. “There was this one time I can't remember what I was upset about, but she walked up to me and said bubba why are you sad? You got me."
Now living in Wayne, Murphree says he occasionally heads back to Pilger. He says sometimes it's out of habit and other times he wants to remember what he used to have.
"I still see the trailer sitting here," Murphree added.
Pilger community members have vowed to rebuild, but Murphree has no plans to return.
"I couldn't live here again, Murphree said. “It'd just bring up too many memories I wouldn't want to bring up."
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