On May 4, 2007, Greensburg, Kan., was hit by a an EF5 tornado. Nearly one year later, Newton County, Mo., was hit with am EF3-4 tornado.
On May 4, 2007, Greensburg, Kan., was hit by a an EF5 tornado. Nearly one year later, Newton County was hit with am EF3-4 tornado.
The mayor of Greensburg, Bob Dixson, was on hand Thursday at the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce E-Conference committee meeting to offer support and advice.
“(I am here in Newton County today) to, number one, say I hurt for the people who lost anything,” Dixson said. “When you lose everything, you have a (relationship) with the same people that lose everything. Number two, was to see the destruction and to evaluate. Also, I wanted to meet with Newton County Emergency Management to share some resources that we have experienced over the last year that maybe could be of some help.
”Prior to the 1 p.m. meeting, Dixson toured Newton County, seeing the devastation that was left behind by the recent tornado.
“It is very difficult to make a comparison, because while the storm that came through here was very destructive, it was not as wide as ours, and it was more fast moving,” said Dixson. “Ours was three to four times wider than this path and was only moving half of the speed that went through here. So when you compare damage to damage it is very difficult, it is a tremendous disaster in both cases.”
Fourteen people were killed in the Newton County tornado. In Greensburg, there were 11 fatalities. Greensburg’s population is around 1,500 people.
“Ninety-five percent of the homes in the city limits were either wiped off face of the map or had severe damage,” Dixson said. “So, massive destruction.”
But with the devastation, the city of Greensburg is in a phoenix phase.
“There is a tremendous (building) progress being made there,” said Dixson. “There, close to 200 building permits have been issued since mid-last summer. There are around 100 homes that either are almost complete or completed already. It’s estimated that we lost almost 800 homes.”
And like the phoenix rising from the ashes, the residents of Newton County will also rise.
“What I saw out there (Thursday) as I was traveling around was number one, those houses that were repairable, I saw people on the roofs,” Dixson said. “They were out in the yards getting limbs, trees and stuff. I also saw people that just looked like they were in a daze and confused. I saw homes that were already cleaned up that were destroyed. The same variety of things that we saw in Greensburg, except it was on a more massive scale. I am sure that you have people that are still in a daze and just don’t know what to do. And that will go on for months. There will be good days and and there will be bad days.”
Since the tornado hit his hometown, this is the first time that he has toured a damaged area. He offers advice to the residents who lost items.
“In the midst of your loss, just remember it is just stuff, I know that it is very hard to say that, but it is just stuff,” said Dixson. “Material things can be replaced. Be very thankful that you have your lives and you can still move on. There are many challenges ahead, but there are many opportunities to grow. You’re going to have resources come into your county that want to help. A lot of us in rural America have always been taught to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and do it yourself and say ‘no, I don’t need any help.’ Well, I encourage you people in Newton County be gracious receivers of that help that is coming in. Those people are volunteering from their hearts, so they want to help.
Allow that to happen.
“Another thing is to remember faith, family and friends. If you rely on those three, you will make it through this.”
Neosho Daily News