GREENSBURG, Kan. (KSNW) – During the aftermath of the Greensburg tornado, KSN talked to many families devastated by the community’s loss, each with their own story to share.
One family stayed in touch with KSN all these years and spoke to reporters about what this anniversary means to them.
“Reflecting back, we still miss those friends and neighbors that we lost that night,” said Bob Dixson, who now serves as Greensburg’s mayor.
While it’s been 10 years, it’s still an emotional journey for the Dixson family, remembering those they lost.
“Half a block over, I lost a good neighbor, down the alley, another neighbor lost his life,” Bob said. “And that’s the reality of the humanness of it; of the loss.”
The tornado destroyed 95 percent of the small town, including the Dixson’s 1912 victorian home.
Bob shared with KSN the photos he and his wife have of their original home when they first moved in and what it looked like after the storm, diminished to rubble.
While Bob and his wife, Ann cleaned up in the days following the tornado, KSN spoke to them about the experience.
“There’s so many memories that are good and even in the midst of this we’ll make new memories,” Ann told KSN 10 years ago.
But even in the days immediately after the tornado, it was clear the storm had not dampened their spirit.
“We’ve come through so much. Everybody has,” Ann said. “We will carry on. There’s a plan for this community. There’s a purpose for us to be left here.”
The Dixon’s had no doubt they would rebuild on that lot for the future.
“This is our home. This is our community,” Bob said. “Sure, we’re going to rebuild. We didn’t think anything about not doing it.”
In thinking forward, the Dixon’s wanted to keep the same “feel” of their old home, while still building smarter and more environmentally conscious.
“We’ve learned something from all this,” Bob said.
The only thing the Dixon’s were able to keep was their fireplace after salvaging the original rock from the rubble.
That original rock held up a banner made by the Dixson’s children that captured the hearts of people around the country as news of the tornado spread.
The banner read, “Future home of the Dixson family. We are blessed.”
“They wanted to be an inspiration to the community that God has saved us and helped us get through this storm and that we’re gonna carry on. We’re gonna build again and we’ll be here,” Ann told KSN in front of their destroyed property.
The message also carried over to the hundreds of volunteers Bob credits for much of the town’s rebirth.
“We’re very blessed to be Kansans where there’s 2.8 million people where you can call friends and neighbors,” he said.
Now, it’s time to pay it forward, Bob said.
“We need to do everything we can in my generation and the generations to come to provide them those opportunities to go off and get an education, get trained and do whatever they’re going to do and then bring and practice their trade here in the region, specifically Greensburg,” he said.
LOOKING BACK | KSN’s Chanda Brown talks to the Dixson family after the storm