On the night of May 4, 2007, the town of Greensburg, KS, took a direct hit from a EF-5 tornado. 95% of the town was completely destroyed. The other 5% may have survived, but there was still damage. Though a small town by many standards (pop. 1,500), it is still mind-boggling to think of an entire town being destroyed. The town wasn't the only place to be hit, either. There were other areas in the community (farms, homes, etc.) that were hit by that tornado or others that went through the area on May 4th and 5th. Thankfully, few lives were lost. Sadly, hundreds of people were left without ANYTHING. Their homes, cars, businesses, belongings, and the businesses that provided the basic necessities for the community were completely wiped off the map.
There have been donations and help from across the country and around the world. Fund raisers of every type have been held. Teams of workers have come from every corner of the nation. It has been a remarkable thing to witness. The residents of Greensburg are truly thankful. They are a hard-working, community-minded people. They have "pulled themselves up by the bootstraps"...but they are thankful for all the outside help they have received and are continuing to receive.
This week, the Early Show ( on CBS--click link to see related articles) is broadcasting live from Greensburg. They are doing a week-long series of interviews and stories on how the town is rebuilding. While viewing it this morning, I saw a few people I knew (Jackie C., my dad!, my aunt, Scott B., etc.). But what I saw of the town looked nothing like the Greensburg of my growing-up years. Or the town I saw just last year, when my family visited my parents, friends, and relatives in that area. Oh, there are a few recognizable things: the grain elevators, the courthouse (damaged, though still there), etc. But most of it is either a pile of rubble, or an empty space where a building used to stand.
At the end of this week, there will be special events held. Just another way for the people to join together as community, and remind each other that they're in the rebuilding business together. President Bush will be speaking at the high school graduation, too. (Which had to be rescheduled to accommodate his schedule. But still...he's going back there. That means a lot.)
I know that for myself, seeing horrible disasters on TV (hurricanes, tsunamis, tornadoes, etc.) can be almost mind-numbing. I shut out the horrific scenes so that I don't have to deal with it on a daily basis. But there is nothing I can shut out about Greensburg. These are people I love and many of whom I have known my whole life. My heart will not stop aching for them until they are back in their homes and businesses. And even then, I know the memories of May 4, 2007, have changed them all forever. Not a one of them will ever be able to erase the memories of the sights and sounds on that night and throughout the days afterward. None of them will ever forget what was lost and what it cost them (financially and emotionally) to rebuild.
My heart, thoughts, and prayers are with you all continually, but especially throughout this week. God be with you all...
Google images of Greensburg--before and after the tornado