Tuesday, May 08, 2007

What was lost when Greensburg, Kansas, blew away

By Diane Silver

I received this story in an email from my friend Anne. She lives on a ranch, which is thankfully undamaged, but she had a private therapy practice in Greensburg.

After reading her email, I realized that I wanted to share it with the world. I find her story to be both heartbreaking and enlightening. So often those of us who don't live in small towns criticize them without even knowing them.

Anne just gave me permission to post this. Here is what she says about the once-great place of Greensburg, Kansas. First, listen to her good news, and then hear her thoughts about what has been lost.

Here's Anne's story:

Susan & I went up to Greensburg yesterday to pack up my private practice - I can't believe my good fortune. I rented a room in a 3 bedroom modular home in the southeast part of town. All of my office furniture, books, framed items etc were intact, not even wet, because the roof had not blown off that part of the house!! Only two items were destroyed & they were just knickknacks.
There is shredded insulation on almost everything & everywhere. Yuck. Also, the house is just trashed - broken glass, wet carpet in most of it - house molding, chunks of wood, random pieces of metal, papers everywhere, sheetrock in chunks all over. There was a piece of corrugated steel about 2 feet long/wide on one of the chairs in the waiting room! We found a sharp piece of something embedded in the wall. Some of the curtain cords had wrapped very tightly around a strip of curtain. In the corner in one room there was a pile of shredded wet grass or probably wheat. Strange stuff.
So we packed up my stuff and went and checked on some other areas we know. It's awful, just horrendous.
Greensburg is very dear to me. It's where I had my first job after getting my masters. I worked there for 5 years in community mental health. I consider it a comfortable small town for me where I know a lot of people.
After doing case management in San Francisco where I had clients get jumped the day they got their check or convinced to smoke crack by a neighbor when the check came in, I found the home of the "World's Largest Hand Dug Well" to be so generous and kind to the clients. People really seemed to care and take their time with my clients with severe mental illness. It was truly heartwarming.
My financial person, Christee, is there, my favorite frame shop, Starla's Stitch and Frame, an amazing soda fountain at Hunter Drug Store with yummy lime-aids, a wonderful vintage clothing store, Snootie Seconds, a huge antique mall in an old church, Fran's Antiques, - so many little things - & for some of you who know my slight fixation on high hair, that is where I have had my hair made into glorious beehives and other stylist dos by Debbie at The Last Tangle.

So all those places have evaporated. It's unsettling, disturbing and unbelievable. I am so sad for all the Greensburg folks. It will truly never be the same.

My heart goes out to Anne, Christee, Debbie and the owners of Starla's, Hunter's, Snootie Seconds and Fran's, and to all the people of Greensburg.

Help Greensburg rebuild.

Photo: Residents return home to a town where even the trees have been turned into sticks. See the entire photo (#8), which is so much more powerful than this tiny sliver, at The Wichita Eagle.

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