‘Greensburg Rebirth’ Has Begun

GREENSBURG, Kan. – The second year of the Greensburg Rebirth Project started very much as the first year did.

Everyone arrived safely in the town now synonymous with the destructive power of Mother Nature.

And after people settled into their sleeping quarters and Cort Anderson and I began whipping the work area into shape, the group of 19 was treated to a tour of Greensburg by Matt Deighton.

Deighton obliged the group with a similar tour last year since he was the volunteer coordinator for the rebuilding process up until recently when the South Central Kansas Tornado Recovery Organization was dismantled on March 31.

That’s when Deighton’s job came to an end, and when I heard that during his tour, Day One of the 2009 Greensburg Rebirth Project ceased being the same.

Though Deighton’s tour carried a similar message as last year, it focused more on how much of the town had been rebuilt instead of discussing the immediate aftermath of the May 4, 2007 tornado.

No longer is Greensburg primarily a place for stories of loss. It is now a glowing example of overcoming a tragedy on the grandest scale.

The intense attention it received from being leveled by an EF5 tornado has now turned into attention looking at the innovative rebuilding initiatives that are focusing on being green and attain LEED Platinum Certification.

Coming into today, I knew it would be a different story, but I guess I failed to realize how much a community could accomplish in just a year.

Though I knew the path to Greensburg well, upon entering the city limits I could have easily mistaken the town for another rural-Kansas community.

It just felt different.

It felt like there were more people in town, proof of which could be seen by people strolling down the sidewalks and the incredible number of new homes that had been constructed.

Impressed doesn’t even describe what I’m feeling.

My emotions are all mixed up.

I am excited to be here and to write about what the town is doing, but I am also taken aback yet again by what the town has gone through and the resilience the community’s members have in every fiber of their souls.

Already, a mere six hours into being within the city limits, I know this is going to be a good two weeks.

My first project for the week, other than Twittering and updating this blog, is to produce a podcast of Deighton’s tour from earlier today.

Like I said, some of the stories were the same as last year, but he also shared new information that I can’t wait to share with the world.

The guy is a quote machine, and his sense of humor really captures the mindset needed to overcoming losing everything and starting over from scratch.

Not to mention the fact he is taking it upon himself to help the town grow by giving land away, but you can hear a little more about that in the upcoming podcast and by reading the story the local weekly newspaper, The Kiowa County Signal, wrote.

Stay tuned to this blog and www.greensburgrebirth.com for more stories throughout the week, and if you want to keep tabs on the minute-by-minute happenings, follow it on Twitter by visiting http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23grrebirth (you don’t have to be a Twitter user to follow all the happenings by clicking on that link).

To find out who all is involved in this year’s project, check the www.greensburgrebirth.com “About Us” page, which will be updated by the end of tonight.

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About toddvogts 805 Articles
Todd R. Vogts, MJE, is an assistant professor of media at Sterling College in Kansas. Previously, he taught yearbook, newspaper, newsmagazine, and online journalism in various Kansas high schools, and he ran a weekly newspaper in rural Kansas. He continues to freelance as a professional journalist from time to time. Also, Vogts is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Journalism Education Association, among others. When he’s not teaching or writing, he runs his mobile disk jockey service and takes part in other entrepreneurial ventures. He can be reached at twitter.com/toddvogts or via his website at www.toddvogts.com.