Sunday, June 7, 2009

Greensburg, Kansas: Andy Makes an Involuntary Donation

Per the recommendation of Andy’s parents, who are addicted to the green channel, we visited Greensburg, Kansas, a town destroyed by a tornado in 2007 and now rebuilding as the first American GREEN town. Greensburg is a rural town made up of farms and small local business. It also hosts the world’s largest hand-dug well. This town definitely has a special feel to it, as all the residents are friendly and inviting. The main store was bustling with activity, including our three visits.

There were many empty foundations where houses once stood...

Andy Looking into the Well

Inside the well...

Signs of hope outside the well...

The school is still in FEMA trailers...

In driving around Greensburg, looking at the new growth amongst the remnants of devastation, we met a man named Harlan, who showed us his photographs of his family’s house, which was reduced to scraps of lumber in the storm. In the photos you can see the couch and chair his aunt and uncle sat on to weather the storm. Harlan told us both survived, but have since passed. He said his aunt never really recovered from her injuries. Sadly, Harlan’s cousin was also killed during the storm. Amongst all this sadness, Harlan was working on a new house built where his cousin’s had stood. This illustrates the vibe of the entire town: hope, courage, inspiration, optimism, faith.

Our new friend Harlan...

The new house on the land where his counsin's house once stood.

Greensburg's hospital is currently still in FEMA trailers. Harlan told us that people went to the old hospital's basement for safety during the storm (including his wife who worked there) and all of those people survived but the hospital above was destroyed.

A new hospital is in the works

Two of the most interesting new structures in Greensburg are the Silo Eco-House. It is built in the shape of a silo to commemorate that the silo was the only building unharmed by the tornado. This house boasts many sustainable features, including a roof-top garden designed to support root vegetables. The Silo Eco-House will serve as office space for local non-profits. The Studio 804 Arts Center features solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal heating, and other Earth-friendly systems. It is expected to earn the U.S. Green Council’s LEED certification, the nation’s most rigorous standard for environmental sustainability. It was designed and built for the people of Greensburg by students in The University of Kansas’s award-winning Studio 804 course.

On the way out of Greensburg, Andy was given notice to make an involuntary donation to the City of Greensburg. Apparently, our traffic infractions caught up with us. Andy was cited for going 75 in 65 mph zone. Kristi is a prosecuting attorney who once made the front-page news for recommending a ticket be enforced against a man traveling 90 in a 65 mph zone en route to the hospital. Kristi has offered to attempt to negotiate a dismissal or reduction of the ticket, but Andy is reluctant to accept the offer. What do you think? Please post as a comment.

It was really uplifting to see such activity and community after such a tragedy. A town of approximately 1500 people lost 11 people and 95% of the town was flattened. The storm shelters next to the new homes and remaining foundations were haunting. The local high school is still in FEMA trailers. They have a wall built for the new school and the fence outside displays student’s messages of hope.

Noise-a-Sarus likes green things....


  1. A ticket for 10 over? Yes, sounds like Greensburg likes the green, even the monetary kind.--Scott

  2. I for one am thankful the nice officer took time and an interest in slowing my daughter down.