Town destroyed

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Last updated on August 5th, 2017 at 03:56 pm

Killer twisters hit Kansas:

More than a dozen tornadoes roared through southwestern Kansas on Saturday evening, a day after a powerful tornado nearly leveled the prairie town of Greensburg and left nine people dead and more than 60 others injured.

Greensburg is hometown to blogger Joni:

Every church in town, including the one my parents and my sisters’ family attend, was either severely damaged or destroyed. The roof of the small hospital collapsed … Please pray for Greensburg, Kansas, my family, and the surrounding community. How do you rebuild an entire town?

Dan Riehl has extensive links; Patsy Terrell, who lives only 80 miles from Greensburg, is doing great work covering the aftermath. Donation information to be posted once I’m aware of any.

UPDATE. Some background:

Greensburg was named for stagecoach driver D. R. ‘Cannonball’ Green. He once ejected Carrie Nation from his coach after she snatched a cigar from his mouth and tossed it away.

UPDATE II. New twisters touching down:

The National Weather Service says it’s received reports “well into the double digits” of twisters touching down in six counties.

Among them were a series of half-mile wide “wedge” tornadoes similar to the one that devastated Greensburg last night.

UPDATE III. The sheer power of this thing:

Jose Peraza said he was driving his oil rig into town when he heard the siren and driving hail started pounding the area. He pulled over and hid with several other people in a convenience store freezer.

He said the storm ripped the side off the freezer, and when he came out he found the twister had thrown his truck – weighed down by 40,000 pounds of oil – “like nothing.”

UPDATE IV. A Kansas TV report.

UPDATE V. When a 40,000-pound truck gets tossed around, smaller objects don’t stand a chance:

The tornado that razed the Kansas town of Greensburg also snatched one of its most valuable treasures. The thousand-pound Brenham pallasite meteorite is gone.

UPDATE VI. Shocking aerial photographs.

Posted by Tim B. on 05/06/2007 at 01:36 AM
    1. Our prayers to the families and communities. Best of luck to them in the long process of rebuilding.

      I hope everyone is safe.

      Posted by Ash_ on 2007 05 06 at 02:17 AM • permalink


    1. Instapundit has a link to some tornado video at the top of his blog at the moment.

      I’ve got a photo (not nearly as exciting) of a twister that touched down at White Sands on Wednesday.

      This seems to be the week for tornadoes.

      Posted by Synova on 2007 05 06 at 02:51 AM • permalink


    1. global warming

      Posted by flying pigs over mecca on 2007 05 06 at 02:59 AM • permalink


    1. If there were no tornados this year MZ, what would they say? All together now…

      Posted by dean martin on 2007 05 06 at 03:12 AM • permalink


    1. Some clever boys at Yale once got themselves photographed drinking with Carry Nation. The story is told here:

      And the photo (sadly small) is here:

      They represented themselves as a temperance group and asked for a photograph to be taken with them. As the lights were turned out to take the photo, they whipped out liquor and replaced Nation’s water glass with something else.

      Posted by Ernst Blofeld on 2007 05 06 at 03:33 AM • permalink


    1. Why, oh why, did Bush do this?

      Posted by flying pigs over mecca on 2007 05 06 at 03:45 AM • permalink


    1. I’m not sure you CAN rebuild that town. Looks like someone just swept the floor with a very large broom and did a very bad job. Natures fury is terrifying to behold.

      Posted by CB on 2007 05 06 at 03:55 AM • permalink


    1. NPR interviewed a gent who described himself as a professional tornado chaser. He described Greenburg after the tornado as something you wouldn’t expect to see on earth, and after looking at those photos I’d agree.

      Posted by SwinishCapitalist on 2007 05 06 at 04:15 AM • permalink


    1. It reminds me of photos of Tokyo, 1945.

      Posted by flying pigs over mecca on 2007 05 06 at 04:20 AM • permalink


    1. I love the Midwest.  The tornado sirens in the distance (the wimpiness factor has been rising in recent years and they’re getting closer), the sky turns green, the air is eerily still, a perfect time to cruise around on your bicycle.

      Actual damage is a drag, however.  It lingers on for too long.  Insurance money doesn’t fix it immediately enough.  Fortunately, actual damage in a particular spot is very rare.  You have to seek it out where it happens, if you’re into tornado video.

      But then there’s emerging from your basement and saying, “That was a good one.’‘

      TV of course just swoops in for a few good shots for ratings, and goes into the tornado disaster template.  Look for family upheaval stories for weeks, spawning what can be done stories, and hopefully aborted political response.

      NOAA will use it to increase its budget.

      100 people die every day just on US highways, many of them innocent, but the video isn’t as impressive, so who cares.  You need video.

      An enterprising news organization would mix genres and ask people in airport waiting rooms how they felt about it.

      Not cynical, just worried that people don’t recognize entertainment when they see it

      Posted by rhhardin on 2007 05 06 at 04:35 AM • permalink


    1. #10. You have a disturbing way of looking at this. Even if the US public has become inured to the daily road toll, it should not look at this event as just another day in tornado alley. If, and when, this community rebuilds, one hopes they learn the lessons of nature and build some really deep bunkers.

      Posted by CB on 2007 05 06 at 05:03 AM • permalink


    1. Reminds me of Darwin, Christmas Eve, 1974.

      Posted by Pogria on 2007 05 06 at 05:15 AM • permalink


    1. Muzzie, are you on the sauce?

      Posted by Pogria on 2007 05 06 at 05:16 AM • permalink


    1. CB:

      In the states, tornadoes are just another unfortunate fact of life. Tornado Alley is called that because that’s what it is. There’s a whole swath of central and southern states that deal with tornadoes on a seasonal basis every year.

      There’s all kinds of tech developments that have spawned off the tornado problem, from house building codes to safe rooms. And yes, in areas that are tornado prone, cellars are a common feature in homes (local water table level permitting).

      This is always a heart breaker when it happens but folk in those parts of the country are resilient and they’ll recover. Unfortunately, as rhhardin said, there’ll also be the professional parasites that’ll feed off this issue for as long as possible.

      For some in our society, what is a disaster for others is gain for themselves.

      Posted by Grimmy on 2007 05 06 at 05:16 AM • permalink


    1. #13 lol no, just have a hangover.

      Posted by flying pigs over mecca on 2007 05 06 at 05:21 AM • permalink


    1. Those aerial photographs remind me of Cyclone Tracy that hit Darwin, Australia on Christmas day, 1974.

      Australia sends prayers and best wishes to Greensburg, Kansas and the communities and families affected.

      Posted by Mike_W on 2007 05 06 at 05:42 AM • permalink


    1. #7

      I’m not sure you CAN rebuild that town. Looks like someone just swept the floor with a very large broom and did a very bad job.

      They’ll rebuild.  I saw Hallam NE (lived in Bellevue NE at the time) after the tornado in May ‘04—completely flattened.  Now, you wouldn’t really know. It’s amazing what a determined town can do.

      Posted by TattooedIntellectual on 2007 05 06 at 05:52 AM • permalink


    1. The underground infrastructure – water, electricity, sewerage – is still there. The land titles, the roadways, the gutters and sidewalks.

      Buy yes, it reminds me too of Boxing Day 1974, the day after Darwin was erased.

      I just hope the death toll doesn’t rise. The rest can be replaced. Heartless to say that I know, but it’s true.

      Posted by Zoe Brain on 2007 05 06 at 07:24 AM • permalink


    1. You re-build 1 house at a time.  Sad 9 died.  thoughts and prayers

      Posted by peter m on 2007 05 06 at 07:45 AM • permalink


    1. On behalf of Kansans everywhere thanks for all good thoughts.  The Wind Gods seem to have a cockleburr up their backside, more storms on the way today and all this week.  They’re starting to interfere with the bar-b-que.

      Posted by Carl H on 2007 05 06 at 08:46 AM • permalink


    1. We get the occasional twister arounf here, but the footprint is only perhaps 100 foot wide.

      This one was huge.

      Posted by Wimpy Canadian on 2007 05 06 at 09:04 AM • permalink


    1. I drove through Greensburg in 1999, and stopped at the Big Well. I even went all the way to the bottom and survived the return climb.

      CB, that’s one hell of a deep bunker right there.

      I loved Kansas even though I was only there for a short time.

      My prayers and wishes are with you all over there.

      (Or should that be y’all?)

      Posted by Nilknarf Arbed on 2007 05 06 at 09:17 AM • permalink


    1. I was in Darwin for the cleanup in early 1975 after Tracy hit, and I remember thinking at the time that this town will never recover from this battering. It looked very similar to the Greenburg photos.

      But look at Darwin now, built bigger and better. Quite frankly, Darwin pre-Tracy was part shanty town and part dump.

      Deepest condolences to those who have lost loved ones.

      Posted by Pedro the Ignorant on 2007 05 06 at 09:51 AM • permalink


    1. Jeezus H. Kee-reist!  That looks like south Florida after Hurricane Andrew scoured through.

      Do let us know about donation opportunities, Tim.

      In the meantime, donate to the American Red Cross (not the communist islamoterrorist-loving International Red Cross) or the Salvation Army – they’ll both be there to help.

      Posted by Barbara Skolaut on 2007 05 06 at 11:01 AM • permalink


    1. #24: Thanks, Barbara. I was going to comment about how to contribute, but you beat me to it.

      The devastation may not be unique, but it never fails to horrify. God bless those people; I hope they build their town back bigger and better than ever.

      Posted by paco on 2007 05 06 at 11:53 AM • permalink


    1. And they worry about earthquakes…

      (We live ~10 miles from the Loma Prieta ‘quake’s epicenter, and just a bit off of the San Andreas fault.)

      Posted by steveH on 2007 05 06 at 01:07 PM • permalink


    1. Considering the aftermath resembles post-detonation Nagasaki, I’d say nine dead is a near miracle. Obviously the good folk of Kansas know how to prepare for the natural disasters to which their area is prone. That, and the general lack of self-pity, whining and “whataya gonna do for me” attitude, really scores the difference between this and post-Katrina New Orleans.

      When I was a kid, we lived for a couple of years in Tornado Alley. Perhaps it’s because I was a kid and have experienced hurricanes, earthquakes and the rest only as an adult, but for me no other Gaia-induced phenomenon is as fearsome as a twister. I have vivid memories of huddling in the basement while fierce winds blew out windows and driving rains flooded the house above (and that’s without being directly in the funnel’s path). The only thing I can imagine inducing more dread is advancing fire.

      How do you rebuild an entire town?

      One brick at a time, Joni, one brick at a time. There will be plenty of hands extended to help. And, with an eye to that, money given to the Salvation Army is always money well spent. God speed, Kansans.

      Posted by Kyda Sylvester on 2007 05 06 at 02:28 PM • permalink


    1. You have a disturbing way of looking at this. Even if the US public has become inured to the daily road toll, it should not look at this event as just another day in tornado alley. If, and when, this community rebuilds, one hopes they learn the lessons of nature and build some really deep bunkers.

      Not disturbing. Realistic, from somebody who lives in tornado alley. As somebody else said, it’s something we deal with every year, and yes, it’s tragic, but we deal with it and move on. The poor people in Kansas who just dealt with this would understand. It’s not a lack of compassion, just pragmatism.

      And yes, those tornado warning systems are annoying as hell, especially when they’re too sensitive and go off every time there’s a thunderstorm.

      Posted by rightwingprof on 2007 05 06 at 02:31 PM • permalink


    1. Has to be Global Warming. Never, ever, have there been tornadoes in Kansas until now! *

      Posted by nofixedabode on 2007 05 06 at 03:56 PM • permalink


    1. Darwin recovered from this, and no doubt Greensburg will also recover.

      All the best to those who have been affected.

      Posted by Margos Maid on 2007 05 06 at 05:59 PM • permalink


    1. Heartfelt sympathy, to all concerned.

      You will be back….You are THE heart of America.

      Posted by El Cid on 2007 05 06 at 06:09 PM • permalink


    1. Nine dead is actually quite shocking.  For all that tornadoes do what they do… a person can hear them coming.  They announce themselves, which is why very few people die from them.  The warning sirens help too.

      I grew up with the threat of tornadoes but what always scared me was the idea of earthquakes.  Since then I’ve been in a few earthquakes and they don’t scare me so much anymore, but it’s still true that all you can really do when stuff starts shaking is hope it doesn’t fall on you.  A tornado can be gotten away from, usually.

      Posted by Synova on 2007 05 06 at 06:12 PM • permalink


    1. Having grown up in Tornado Alley, I have great sympathy for the people of Greensburg.  Thank God I’ve never been in one, but I’ve seen the aftermath.  People are never quite the same afterwards.

      Posted by RebeccaH on 2007 05 06 at 07:54 PM • permalink


    1. Years ago, I lived in Leoti, KS, a couple counties over from Greensburg. Gorgeous country, I miss it every day.

      Prairie living takes tough folks & I’m so proud of ‘em it makes me weepy. No one asking where Bush is, no one demanding water, FEMA trailers, & McDonalds. Small-town prairie folk take care of themselves & their own. Finest Kind, no doubt about it.

      Posted by KC on 2007 05 06 at 08:16 PM • permalink


    1. Synova, tornadoes do not always announce themselves.

      When our subdivision was struck several years ago at a quarter to midnight, the hail and strobe lightning were simultaneous with the skylights falling down the staircases, the carports collapsing, and the pine trees punching through the walls.  It sounded nothing like a train.

      If my mother hadn’t called us and told us the news was reporting our neighborhood would be hit in a minute and a half, we would have been upstairs in bed. So far as I am aware, we were the only family in our subdivision who made it downstairs before it hit.

      Until then, I didn’t take tornadoes seriously, either.

      Greensburg will come back, but not soon. It took over seven months before we could get back in our home, and we were by no means the last ones in the area to rebuild.  Our devastation was as nothing compared to theirs.

      Posted by VKI on 2007 05 06 at 08:44 PM • permalink


    1. This is probably a completely ignorant question, but… why are there not more homes in Tornado Alley built with a tornado in mind?  Like, I am thinking of something like hobbit houses – semi or totally underground??

      I should think that insurance companies would be supportive of such architecture.

      Posted by heather on 2007 05 06 at 11:35 PM • permalink


    1. Heather, it’s mostly just human inertia.  Dome homes do pretty well, and if they’re made from concrete they do real well in a tornado. But many people don’t like how they look.  Oh, well.

      I was about 12 miles south of Xenia, Ohio in April, 1974 when a similar tornado hit.  Due to year-round Daylight Savings Time (oil crunch) the schools had gotten out an hour or so before it hit instead of 10 minutes before.  Only 32-33 dead.  The sky got, literally, as black as night.  It got so dark I had to turn on my headlights.

      As I got into town, I saw a freight train overturned.  Items that had to be cars because they had 15-inch rubber tires on them.  A destroyed Kroger store.  And a sub-division of 600 flattened houses where I had almost bought a home.

      Until you’ve seen this close up, you just can’t imagine the damage.

      Posted by JorgXMcKie on 2007 05 07 at 12:13 AM • permalink


    1. It’s that tornados are not actually a major threat.  Damage to any particular home is rare, so rare that insurance rates are very low.

      Deathwise, it’s less risky than lightning, and 500 times less dangerous than driving.  But videowise, it’s the best disaster going.

      Not much rearrangement of life happens because of the lightning menace.  (“Lightning : can it happen here?  Steps you can take.  Tune in at seven.’‘)

      The product of news organizations is not news.  It is you.  They sell you to advertisers.

      The friend of the media is the population effect : with a huge population, everything happens somewhere, and can be brought to you, no matter how unlikely, as if it were an urgent threat in your very own neighborhood, requiring that you not tune away.

      As to why people don’t live in underground bunkers : they’re not morons

      Posted by rhhardin on 2007 05 07 at 07:12 AM • permalink


    1. After the May 3, 1999 twister went through central OK, areas that took direct hits couldn’t have been more messed up by a walking artillery barrage: nothing but bare foundation slabs and denuded trees surrounded by rubble.  It’s rebuilt now, just takes a while to clean up and get to it.

      As to building ‘for tornados’, strictly speaking, any particular area stands to get hit very rarely.  Another reason is that the water table in may areas is shallow enough that keeping an underground house try is an exercise in frustration; most places can’t/don’t have basements for the same reason.

      Low death tolls, even for the big F5 tornados, are the norm now.  They may not be worth a damn at telling you a forecast for the week, but when severe weather starts popping the weather weenies in this part of the country are pretty damn good at watching/predicting/tracking severe weather.  As one put it, “We used to be able to tell you there’s a tornado when it was blowing the neighbors house away; now we usually have at least fifteen minutes warning”.  And fifteen minutes is a BIG safety margin on something like this.

      Posted by Firehand on 2007 05 07 at 11:16 AM • permalink


    1. Forgot to mention, LOTS of homes, particularly in farming/ranching areas, have storm shelters near the house, and lots of people are retrofitting a ‘safe room’ into a closet or building one next to the house.  Just in case.

      Posted by Firehand on 2007 05 07 at 11:34 AM • permalink


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