GREENSBURG, Kansas – There are still reminders throughout Greensburg, but looking at it today it’s hard to see that seven years ago 95% of the town was wiped away by an EF5 tornado.
“To be able to come back and have a beautiful downtown and a beautiful school, this is an amazing story,” said Ed Truelove, the City Administrator.
A few weeks after the disaster the town decided to rebuild with sustainability in mind and now they are one of the most energy efficient towns in the country.
“One of the goals throughout town was making sure we were building things for the future, not just rebuilding things from our past,” said Superintendent of Schools Darin Headrick.
The town worked together to come up with a list of everything they wanted to see back on Main Street. The final thing to complete is the Twilight Theater, and they expect to open on Labor Day.
Infrastructure isn’t their only focus though. There were 12 lives lost, and with homes completely wiped away the population went from around 1,500 people to less than 800.
Now that the re-build is coming to an end, the town can start focusing on the economy…
“There were a lot of great ideas, but everybody still had their lives,” said Gary Goodman, a resident and business owner, “Now that everyone is back on track with their lives we have energy again, and it’s going to be great.”
A business incubator and media center have been established to encourage people to start businesses, and the school works with graduates to move back after college.
“Just look at Greensburg as an example of how you can recover and that there is great hope,” Truelove said.