By Rebekah Rae. CREATED Aug 24, 2014
NORFOLK, Neb. (KMTV) - "Pilger lost a lot." The twin tornadoes on June 16 made national headlines. Nearly every resident surrounding the tiny village had witnessed the damage first hand.
"It's like a totally different town." Kandiss Murphree awoke from a coma two months after the storm with no memory of the night that killed her 5-year old daughter, Calista Dixon. "I feel like a lot happened, a lot that I couldn't control or do."
The twin tornadoes that killed her daughter also left Murphree with severe head injuries. While in the hospital, she learned she no longer has a home or a 5-year old. "It's sad that I couldn't save her."
Though the devastation is new in her eyes, she's focused on the positive. "I feel like I'm ready to keep on going."
Her attitude surprises Stanton County Sheriff Mike Unger. "I haven't seen her since the evening of June 16 and in all honesty, I really didn't expect her to survive her injuries," he said.
The last time Unger saw Murphree, she was covered in blood and barely alive. Now, the man who helped save her life extends his hand. "When you think of her miraculous recovery, it's truly a miracle."
While Unger knows Murphree, to her, he is a stranger. A man she'd only come in contact with at the brink of death. A hero she met thanks to a rock star.
"It is no doubt been a long summer for the people here trying to rebuild their lives and their houses." After visiting Pilger on June 23, a week after the storms, Bret Michaels vowed to headline a benefit concert.
He kept his word. On Aug. 24, a sold out show filled the DeVent Center in Norfolk. "We want people to feel great. I want to make this a celebration of the spirit of really what Nebraska is," said Michaels.
"Music has such a healing element to it," which is why many storm victims, including Murphree and Unger attended the concert for free.
Their attendance backs up the village motto, "A tiny town too tough to die." With an uncertain future and an tragic past, Murphree still smiles, "I'm not grieving, I don't feel horrible. I woke up and came to."
One hundred percent of the proceeds from the Rock N' Relief concert will go toward towns in Nebraska devastated by the summer's storms along with tens of thousands of dollars raised in donations.