On May 30, I stopped by Aurora, Nebraska on my way to Lincoln and recorded some of the rather extensive damage done to the outskirts of the town. The owner of one of the destroyed residences, Mrs. Marlatt, was kind enough to allow me to photograph inside of the remains of her home. As you'll see, it's rather incredible (and tragic) what tornadic winds can do to a house.
From a distance, the farmstead looked like someone had dropped a bomb on it. The grain silo was demolished, with part of the sheet metal wrapped around the Marlatt's home.
This is the front entrance to their home. The porch roof is gone.
This is where the kitchen used to be. The roof is gone, and a fallen tree rests on the support wall. Everything in the kitchen was tossed about, with some rather odd damage in places. The fridge was apparently opened up by the winds and filled with bits of dirt and grass, and then closed. Nothing was missing in the fridge. In another part of the kitchen, a ceramic pot was full of wet mud. The lid was still on. Here we see Dianna Vandewol, a fellow member of the Marlatts' church, helping with cleanup. There were actually quite a few people from the community, some with heavy equipment, helping to move debris on the farm.
This is the bedroom. Fortunately, the Marlatts were all taking shelter in the basement when the tornado struck. This sort of thing is why tornados that strike at night are so dangerous and often cause more fatalaties -- large exterior rooms, like this one, tend not to fare very well in tornadic winds.
This is why weather researches advise that you take cover in an interior bathroom or closet -- this is an exterior bathroom (a bathroom with walls at the edge of the house). You would not have wanted to have been here when the tornado struck. In fact --
This is a dollar bill embedded in the bathroom door by the winds.
And yet it left the roll of toilet paper. Other oddities -- the glass China cabinet in the family room was untouched, with all China left in tact.
One last photo from the kitchen. The wind impregnated the walls with dirt and mud, and it seemed that bits of plant material were jammed into every nook and cranny available.
Many thanks to the Marlatts for allowing these photos. Some of them were published in the Journal Star; if you're reading this, Mrs. Marlatt, your CD should be in the mail soon.