Partial shot of what Greensburg looked like shortly (like several weeks,
I'd guess, didn't see an indication when the photo was actually taken
but there's been a ton of debris hauled off before this was taken--it
was impossible to drive virtually anywhere immediately after).
I went up (it's about 80 miles from us) early the morning after and came
up the south end of main street which is a mile east of the main highway
that was blocked off. Once to the damage area in town, you couldn't
tell which was street and which was block--the debris field was 3-ft
deep essentially uniform. Damage was so complete locals couldn't even
recognize which block/intersection was which much of the time.
Spent that day helping several folks recover enough belongings to be
able to make it to relatives or motels that evening and many of the next
several weeks as could in cleanup...after the second day they cordoned
off the entire community and only through qualified organizations were
anybody allowed in/out for about two months or maybe even longer...
Link to a storm chasers' page who chased it back north from OK/TX from
about Coldwater,KS, where he first saw it about 40 miles S of Greensburg.
It'll be a while 'afore I'll be forgettin' this-here 'un...this is third
year coming up and I've become much more diligent about my storm spotter
training and making sure the weather radio has batteries...
Very sad. It doesn't get any worse than what happened in Greensburg.
I did more driving around today with the wife and kids and saw more
damage (no camera this time). I saw buses that were thrown across the
street and homes pushed off of there foundations. I also saw a brick
home that had the front bricks stripped off (I guess it was a brick
facade?). It is very sad driving around the homes. I don't know if
I'd even feel comfortable taking more pictures. It's too much to
I drove out today to the nearest point that the twister came to me and
used my GPS to calculate the distance to my house and it was 0.75
Only thing that would have made it worse would have been for Greensburg
to have been a much larger place than it was/is so there would have been
more population affected...in a way it was fortunate the G'burg was only
a 1500-population little town even though it took out most of the town.
Speaking of moving things, there was a full-size Buick on the roof of
the Courthouse afterwards (3-stories and only building to survive
reasonably intact other than the grain elevators on the north side of town).
They found a combine from the John Deere dealership located on the west
edge of town rolled up like a wad of aluminum foil almost 5 miles N of
town...and not a little guy, this was new 9700-series four-wheel drive
monster. All it was lacking was it didn't have the header on the front.
I'm guessing it weighed -- well, let's see, let's just look one up;
it's a larger machine than ours -- wow!!! JD say ~30,000 lb w/o header.
Hmmm....if I compute a wind force times an estimated projected area
-- yeah, I get >30k-lbf by a fair margin...man, I'm more impressed after
that exercise than I was when I saw the sucker out there...I didn't
think actual weight would be much over half that and the thought of that
was daunting enough.
We used to live in Wichita, about 1.5 hours east of Greensburg.
Before the tornado we used to drive through from time to time on the
way to Colorado or New Mexico. It was a pretty town and we always
thought the Green part of their name went with the hundreds of big
trees all around the town. The big feature of Greenburg was the
largest hand-dug will in a park a few blocks off of the highway. A
very pretty town and park.
We dove through on the way to Taos in October of '08 and it almost
made us cry. From the highway you could see the horizon in all
directions. No houses, few buildings and all of the trees were
stripped and destroyed. Besides a concrete grain elevator that
survived the storm most of the above ground structures were tents and
temporary buildings put up by disaster workers. There were a few
starts on new homes.
If good comes from disaster, Greensburg might well become the model
for green communities. With the help of some organizations, the
government and a few celebrities they have committed to incorporate
green technology into their rebuild. This has come at the expense of
a few long-time residents who apparently are having difficulty
affording some of their new building standards. Time will tell.
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