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Greensburg teaching communities hit by tornadoes how to rebuild

June 02, 2011|By Kim Hynes | KWCH 12 Eyewitness News

(GREENSBURG, Kan.) — A town that once received help because of a tornado, is now a town offering help. From green building practices to a business incubator on Main Street, everywhere you look Greensburg proved it could make a come back.

Thursday local leaders from Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Reading Kanas toured places like the hospital, eager to learn. "Greensburg did it right. My thing is we only have one chance and we want to do it right,"  said Tuscaloosa City Council member Bob Lundell.  

Lundell and others toured places like the Kiowa County Memorial Hospital. Administrator Mary Sweet explained the struggles in starting from scratch. "I'm not an expert, I just happened to live through it and I can tell them what worked for us," she said.  She says the hardest lesson she learned when her hospital was wiped out was to trust the experts.  "At some point you have to say I need help and let people come in and help you," she said.

Getting help is exactly why Tuscaloosa sent ten local leaders to Greensburg.  The tornado wiped out 7,000 homes and business in their town of 95,000 killing 43 people.  "We need to find out what they did, how fast they did it and we're amazed in four years what the place looks like," Lundell said.

Sweet says Greensburg is thrilled to offer the assistance. She says no one was there with that kind of experience when they went through it. She explained different mistakes Greensburg made, hoping the other communities could learn from them. She says it's important to take a step back at times and decide if a decision was really a good decision. She says they often changed their minds and weren't afraid to do so. "There was no one to tell us that's a bad idea," she said.

So the tornado survivors in Reading and Tuscaloosa will leave town with good ideas on how to move forward in the future. "Greensburg is leading the way," Lundell said.

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