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June 6, 1980
Storm levels farm home; family saves memories

By Karen Wittwer
Independent Staff Writer

PHILLIPS -- While 16-year-old Nancy Olson took refuge with her softball team in the Grand Island Armory, her family's home southwest of Phillips was completely destroyed.

When Nancy returned to the farm home later that night, she found that little was left standing. Only parts of the house's brink walls remained. The quanset was in a field across the road and outbuildings, including a barn and grain bins, were twisted and flattened. Machinery including two combine and tractors were destroyed and three center pivots will have to be completely replaced.

Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Sullivan and brothers, Chuck and Roger, weathered the storm in a downstairs closet but had already left to spend the night with another son, Roger, who lives near Giltner.

"I don't see how they ever made it," she said.

Nancy said she called home about 10 p.m. Tuesday and everything was fine. The tornado hit the farm about 10:30 p.m.

Wednesday nearly 200 neighbors were at the Sullivan farm to begin sorting through the debris.

Although much had been cleaned up and some possessions salvaged, a great deal still remained to be done Thursday afternoon.

Nancy led a tour of what remained of the six-year-old home. Through the kitchen, living room and bedrooms, Nancy pointed out what had gone where.

"This is my room," she said, her eyes looking across an empty room with wires hanging over a wall and the sunlight beating down overhead.

The piano and organ in the music room were gone and the clothes dryer had been tossed across the back lawn behind a bush. Coats in an upstairs closet were still on their hangers when cleanup began.

The telephone worked until about 10 a.m. Wednesday and the family was fielding calls while cleaning up, Nancy said.

Downstairs, the watersoaked carpet protested when disturbed by footprints. The ceiling in the room where Nancy's parents took refuge was destroyed.

As Nancy stood in the front yard, a neighbor handed her a muddy photograph accompanied with instructions to call if she needed any help.

"It was my confirmation picture," she explained.

Several photographs had been found in the debris along with Nancy's class ring and her mother's wedding ring.

Nancy said she wasn't sure what her family's plans were but there is a good chance they will rebuild on top of what is left.