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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 05/ 7/2009

A Greener Greensburg Two Years After Tornado

By Ann Posegate

* Full Forecast | Will Summer Weather Suppress Swine Flu? *

Steps were all that was left of a Greensburg, Kansas, church dismantled by the EF5 tornado that devastated the small town on May 4, 2007. Photo taken Oct. 14, 2008, by CWG's Ann Posegate.

Two years ago this week, on the night of May 4, 2007, a 1.7-mile wide EF5 tornado destroyed 95 percent of the two-mile wide town of Greensburg, Kansas. Because of modern warning systems from the National Weather Service and the dedicated work of meteorologists and storm spotters, the town was given 26 minutes of warning time and many lives were spared. Unfortunately, 11 people did lose their lives.

The town has since begun the rebuilding process, but with the vision of a different town than that which was destroyed: one that is safer and environmentally sustainable. Last fall, I visited Greensburg and saw first-hand the town's initiative to strengthen community and rebuild as a model "green" town.

Keep reading for more photos from my tour and some related links...

Last building standing on Main St. and only historic building left standing in town after the tornado. Photo taken Oct. 14, 2008, by CWG's Ann Posegate.

What is left of the local Boy Scouts headquarters, built in 1935. Photo taken Oct. 14, 2008, by CWG's Ann Posegate.

The new Greensburg water tower. Photo taken Oct. 14, 2008, by CWG's Ann Posegate.

The "Green Haus" cube, which displays environmentally-friendly building materials. Part of Kansas State University College of Architecture, Planning & Design's Greensburg Cubed project, which displays a collection of 10'x10'x10' cubes placed in the community to provide examples of sustainable materials and green construction methods. Photo taken Oct. 14, 2008, by CWG's Ann Posegate.

The wind power system in the basement of a new arts building. Photo taken Oct. 14, 2008, by CWG's Ann Posegate.

Outside view of the arts center, the first LEED Platinum certified building in Kansas. Platinum is the highest rating of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System. Photo taken Oct. 14, 2008, by CWG's Ann Posegate.

More about the Greensburg Tornado and Rebuilding Process

National Weather Service, Dodge City, Kansas:
Greensburg Green Town:
Greensburg Sustainable Buildings Database:
Official Website of Greensburg, Kansas:

By Ann Posegate  | May 7, 2009; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Posegate, U.S. Weather  
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an inspiring example of how ALL new construction should be. as an architect i find this especially interesting. it's a shame a town had to get destroyed, but what a great opportunity to build better. i am always pushing clients to use more insulation, better windows, better heaters etc...than the minimum requirements (it's a very cheap "upgrade" w/insulation). but it's hard to get them interested in solar/geothermal systems because of initial cost.

any idea what the cost of rebuiling greensburg green is/will be vs. had it been rebuilt w/standard methods?

i couldn't get this link to work:

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | May 7, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

fyi, links are now fixed.

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | May 7, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

very heavy downpour in crystal city. looking at the radar, it appears to be quite isolated. just one of those pop-ups!

Posted by: rhingo | May 7, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

@Walter -

Based on information from the tour, Greensburg - a typical small, rural town in the Midwest - had been losing population and was economically struggling before the tornado (there hadn't been a permit issued to build a new house since 10 years prior). The tornado devastated the town beyond belief. However, within a week after the tornado hit, the mayor and many residents were on board with the proposal to rebuild as a "green town," while still keeping the town's history and culture intact. They realized the process would provide an example in rural renovation. The town is the first in the U.S. to rebuild sustainably, so it has had a lot of media attention. It has received financial support from atypical sources, such as Leonardo DiCaprio, and typical sources such as FEMA. Greensburg is thinking ahead - making investments now with the goal of being energy independent and saving money in the future. I'm not sure rebuilding it exactly as it was would have helped the town's existing struggle.

Posted by: Ann-CapitalWeatherGang | May 7, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

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