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Tornado wipes Kansas farming town off the map

By Magnus Slingsby (The Independent) - May 7, 2007

The Midwest has been left reeling by a devastating wave of tornadoes which have left at least ten people dead, dozens injured and virtually wiped a small farming town off the map.

Multiple twisters swept Kansas, Oklahoma, and South Dakota with winds of up to 250mph leaving a trail of destruction. Fresh waves continued to rip across the stricken states early yesterday, with President George Bush declaring parts of Kansas a disaster area and pledging immediate aid.

Worst hit was the small town of Greensburg, Kansas, which was flattened by a huge tornado on Friday night which killed eight people. Two others were killed in nearby counties. Ninety five per cent of Greensburg was destroyed, and the only building to survive intact was the town’s bar, the Bar H Tavern, which was converted into a makeshift morgue.

Witnesses describe the town as being little more than a heap of twisted girders, crumpled vehicles tattered insulation and splintered wood. The town’s fire engines were crushed, the main thoroughfare destroyed, and not a single church remained.

Attempts to rescue survivors trapped in basements or buried beneath the rubble had to be abandoned as new storms swept in.

“This is a huge catastrophe that has happened to our town,” said Steve Hewitt, a town administrator and Greensburg resident as he appealed to the rest of America for help. “All my downtown is gone. My home is gone. My staff’s homes are gone. And we’ve got to find a way to get this [community] back on its feet”.