Pilger community remembers tornadoes five years later

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – Judy Brahmsteadt remembers the day that changed the Pilger community forever. 

“I got down on the floor in my living room by my love seat and all at once everything was over. It didn’t take long for the windows to shatter and my roof to go off my house,” said Brahmsteadt.

Five years ago today, two twin category four tornadoes swept across the Pilger in June 2014. The tornadoes destroyed almost everything in its path. 

“We’re just shocked at what had happened. Our church was gone our bank was gone. Many things had disappeared,” said Brahmsteadt.

Just like Judy’s home, Pastor Tim Booth of the St. John Lutheran church told KCAU 9 the building was demolished and had to be rebuilt from the grown up.

“This building? There was nothing left except for the tower which is right out here. There was nothing left,” said Pastor Booth.

Faced with a decision to rebuild, the Pilger community turned to the nation for help. They received donations and emotional support during a time of grief.

‘That next Sunday or real close after that Pastor Makelin had a communion service out under the tents and out in the air, and we’re still doing that today,” said Pastor Booth.

The St. John Lutheran church reopened in 2016. Pastor Booth said the community’s goal is to continue focusing on the future and the repopulating of the community. 

“When they lived it back then, it was a day in and day out destruction and it was not a good time, and so they want to kind of put it behind them. As for the numbers in the town, it had declined to try to get houses all rebuilt and stuff like that and people had to move off but it is starting to come back up,” said Booth.

Pastor Booth said he spoke with members of the church about commemorating tornado Pilger but parishioners declined, deciding to leave the pain in the past.

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