Friday, July 1, 2011

Sustainable Communities Peer to Peer Workshop Pictures and News Video

FEMA article on the workshop
Images from the recent workshop held in Greensburg to provide advice on long term recovery to communities in Missouri, Alabama, and Mississippi.

News report video on the workshop from

FEMA Video of the Workshop

Smithville recovery effort is a long term project

SMITHVILLE, Miss. (WTVA) - It will go down as a true learning experience for Smithville's mayor and town officials. Touring and learning about Greensburg, Kansas.
That town has a lot in common with Smithville.
While touring the town they were able to get a better understanding of how to rebuild, recover and avoid certain hazards.
"We learned up there even as tragic as it was, the tornado created opportunities," says Gregg Kennedy, Mayor of Smithville. "It's up to us to explore and take advantage of these opportunities that we have."

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hospital head imparts advice to Tuscaloosa visitors

Before taking her Reading and Tuscaloosa guests on a tour of her new $19 million hospital, Kiowa County Memorial Hospital Administrator Mary Sweet gave a PowerPoint presentation highlighting the tornadic destruction of her former facility while imparting lessons learned from her rebuilding experience.
   Sweet began by recalling the practicality that can only be learned by on-scene observation.
Funding sources are multiple…

   Asked by Tuscaloosa’s Director of Planning, John McConnell, as to where the rest of the rebuilding funding came from, and whether design needs to take a back seat to functionality, Sweet responded that “going for LEED Platinum” increased the cost estimate by “about $800,000 which isn’t bad as a percentage of $19 million.”
    Sweet went on to say, “We used insurance proceeds, help from FEMA and the State (Dept of Emergency Management) and donations but were still about $4.2 million short.”
She went on to say that remaining gap was met by a “50/50 funding from USDA (Rural Development) in that half was a grant and the other half a loan.”
Other lessons learned…
   Sweet imparted several other tips for her Alabama visitors, such as:
>Don’t agree to arrangements with open-ended financial details…Sweet spoke of the being told a “tent hospital” was available to her shortly after the storm for $2.5 million.  “I told the State we didn’t have that kind of money and they said, ‘Just take it and we’ll figure it out later,’” Sweet said.  “Don’t make that mistake by being in too big a rush to get something in place.  We had to go to modular units because you can’t control temp and humidity in a tent very well, so we couldn’t even run a lab there.”

Big Well plans 100 percent complete

With all council members present, except Sandy Jungemann, the Greensburg City Council was taken through the upcoming steps relating to the Big Well.
The plans for the Big Well Museum are 100 percent complete, according to the staff of Law Kingdon. The plans have been sent to U.S.D.A. and the Kansas Historical Society for comments.  ...

Greening of the Prairie -- Not Your Father's Kansas Anymore

...But tragedy and adversity can lead to positive change, and that’s what happened to the prairie town of Greensburg . Four years ago, a ferocious 1.7 mile wide EF-5 tornado  packing 200 mile-an-hour winds roared through this sleepy agricultural community of 1,500. In the flash of an eye, it destroyed 95 percent of the buildings, leaving 11 dead among huge heaps of twisted metal, brick and wood.

But you wouldn’t know it now. Instead wind turbines rise high above the prairie, rotating like massive pinwheels powered by the jet stream blowing west to east out of the Rockies. Gleaming cutting-edge buildings have popped up near Main Street like high-tech prairie dogs peaking out of their holes. It was all part of a rebuilding plan that came together with amazing speed, as my NRDC colleague Kaid Benfield noted in this blog  three years ago.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

(Reuters) - When community leaders in tornado-ravaged places such as Joplin, Mo., consider the future, they look to Greensburg, Kansas.

Next week [on June 29th], FEMA will host a "sustainable communities workshop" in Greensburg, attended by people from Joplin and two southeast U.S. communities recently damaged by tornadoes. They will learn how to follow Greensburg's example.
...  The visit by officials from Joplin and the communities of Smithville, Miss. and Cordova, Ala., comes on the heels of an earlier visit by a delegation from Tuscaloosa, Ala., heavily damaged by a recent tornado.
Greensburg City Councilwoman Erica Goodman said Greensburg is ready with a message of hope for other communities.
"We can't tell you want to do," Goodman said. "We can only tell you what we have done and hopefully you can take that home and start your recovery.

What Can Tornado-Ravaged Towns Really Learn From Greensburg, Kansas?

....As I mentioned in my interview, I'm not so certain that Greensburg's success is easily replicable. I don't know that bigger cities like Joplin, Missouri or Tuscaloosa, Alabama can look to tiny Greensburg (which had a population of around 1,500 when the tornado struck) as a model for their rebuilding plans. For Greensburg, their "green recovery" efforts were also a new, novel idea at the time. A pretty unique story that, when combined with the town's fortunate name, the media couldn't get enough of. Dozens, if not hundreds, of articles, blog posts, and network news reports (there was even a two-season reality show for the Discovery Channel), helped reel in a bounty of charitable donations, from cash to wind turbines to solar panels to geothermal heat pumps.  ...

Read full article...

"Energy Now" June episode featuring Greensburg story

30 Minute Episode

There's Light at the End of the Funnel

From, June 9th, 2011
In the wake of the destructive spring storms hitting several areas of the country this year, phones in Greensburg have been ringing off the hook. People have been wondering what kind of help our community can share with those in need of direction and reassurance. We write this column a week after a delegation of folks from Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Reading, Kansas spent two full days in town, touring, asking questions, and getting information about sustainable rebuilding issues.

Read More....

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Greensburg and Others Recieve Siemens Sustainable Community Award Throughout the country, local governments, chambers of commerce, economic development authorities, and other organizations have taken tremendous steps to improve quality of life, be a steward of the environment, and increase the ability to sustain a successful community for generations to come.
These efforts deserve national recognition. The Siemens Sustainable Community Awards program provides that national platform for recognition and information-sharing. Please join us in congratulating the 2011 winners: San Jose, CA; Raleigh, NC; Greensburg, KS!

A partnership between Siemens USA and the U.S. Chamber Business Civic Leadership Center (BCLC). 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tornado-ravaged towns seek guidance from Greensburg

Published 6/3/2011 in Local News
By Kathy Hanks
Special to The Telegram
GREENSBURG — City leaders from recent tornado-ravaged communities spent Thursday learning from Greensburg leaders exactly what it takes to rise up again after disaster hits.
Rebuild Tuscaloosa Task Force and representatives from the eastern Kansas town of Reading sat together in a conference room that doubles as a FEMA-approved storm shelter. While Greensburg is a different community than it was four years ago when an EF5 tornado destroyed most its infrastructure and homes, leaving 11 dead, it is proof that a town can rebuild from the rubble.
After the recent weeks of destructive weather across the U.S., Greensburg is a hopeful beacon for demolished communities. The summit was an opportunity to be a resource for the 13 visitors who are spending two days in town touring key rebuilding projects, including the hospital, county school, city hall and BTI John Deere, and visiting with stakeholders in the recovery of the community.
Read more:

Greensburg Greentown - Tour Map

Friday, June 10, 2011

Tuscaloosa BOE member sees need for partnership with City

Read Article on Kiowa County Signal
Unlike Greensburg, Tuscaloosa didn’t lose all its school building in its recent tornado experience, simply because it had over a dozen campuses rather than two buildings. It did, however, suffer the loss of two campuses, and those in perhaps the poorest part of a town with a relatively high poverty rate.

Kelly Horwitz, the District Four (there are seven) representative of the Tuscaloosa School Board was the lone representative of the city’s public education system at the two-day Tuscaloosa Recovery Summit, and as such, had a great deal of interest in how Greensburg’s district was able to have a $52 million campus ready for use just three years after losing its facility in May of 2007.

She later told The Signal she learned a great deal from USD 422 Superintendent Darin Headrick, particularly in terms of how he and his board prioritized its rebuilding plans and went about finding the dollars needed from a variety of sources.

Noting that roughly 10 percent of Tuscaloosa was impacted by the April 27 storm, Horwitz said the University Place campus of pre-K through grade eight was severely damaged while the pre-K through grade 5 Alberta Elementary campus “was leveled.” University Place serves Horwitz’s district.

“About two-thirds of our students in Tuscaloosa get free or reduced lunches and the ratio is at least that high if not higher in the neighborhoods where the two schools were hit,” Horwitz said.

Speaking with former County Commissioner Gene West just before departing the hospital for Kiowa County Schools, Horwitz was uncertain of how hard she and her board should pursue intervention from her state’s congressional delegation.

“Pat Roberts, Sam Brownback and Jerry Moran, our senators and Congressman did a lot to help us get help early on,” West told Horwitz. “Go to your representatives early and often.”

“Tuscaloosa is Shelby’s (Richard, GOP senior U.S. Senator) hometown,” Horwitz reflected.

“There you go,” West said. “He has a big incentive to do a lot for you.”

Asked how close a relationship the school district and City of Tuscaloosa had enjoyed before the tornado, Horwitz said, “We really haven’t worked that closely together before, but I think that’s going to need to change. I’d think it’s clear to us (her and the two Tuscaloosa City Councilmen that likewise made the trip to Greensburg) from what we’re seeing here that we both can benefit from working together.”

Greensburg Tornado Survivors Say a Future is Possible

5:43 p.m. CDT, June 3, 2011

In 2007, the people of Greensburg, Kansas went through the same devastation as people in Joplin, Mo. and Reading, Kan. An EF-5 tornado ripped through the town destroying 95-percent of it. Eleven people died and dozens more were hurt, but Greensburg is now on the road to recovery.

Before the tornado, 1400 people called Greensburg home. Now the population is about 800. The town recently gave tours to city leaders from Tuscalossa, Alabama. They are one of several cities that are facing an uncertain future.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Out of the Rubble and Towards a Sustainable Future: The “Greening” of Greensburg, Kansas

Abstract: Following a devastating tornado there in 2007, the tiny city of Greensburg, Kansas has engaged in a sustainability-oriented recovery process through which it hopes to serve as a model for other communities planning for a sustainable future. This article uses innovation theory to consider how and why the sustainability focus emerged in Greensburg and to explore the potential transferability of those factors to other contexts. An analysis of 535 newspaper articles reveals key factors as: the shared vision of persistent local leaders, the framing of sustainability as an “opportunity” with an energy efficiency focus, community pride and resilience, and a “clean slate” rebuilding effort with substantial available funding. While Greensburg’s future is intimately connected to the specifics of its recent past, the analysis does reveal lessons that other communities can draw from in crafting sustainability plans of their own.
From: Sustainability - Open Access Journal  2010, 2(7), 2302-2319; doi:10.3390/su2072302

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Greensburg, Kan., schools superintendent promotes rebuilding green

JOPLIN, Mo. — Darin Headrick has seen damage like this before — in Greensburg, Kan., in 2007, when an EF-5 tornado destroyed 95 percent of the rural town.

Headrick is superintendent of Kiowa County Schools in Greensburg. He toured the tornado damage on Wednesday with Joplin superintendent C.J. Huff and others. The Joplin school district is faced with rebuilding three schools and repairing six damaged schools and the administration building.

Greensburg this year opened a school building that is LEED-Platinum certified, the highest level of sustainability and energy-efficiency. LEED is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Headrick said with public, taxpayer-funded buildings, considering the overall life-cycle cost is important. He said by spending more to build an energy-efficient building, the building can cost more over its life. He said money that would be spent on utilities can be spent on other things, like computers and textbooks.

Future Home of Greensburg Schools

GREENSBURG: Recovery becoming concrete Dream for destroyed town turns into reality as rebuilding plows forward

Published: 9/26/2009 10:38 PM
Greensburg's new hospital, school and city hall are all well on their way to being completed, with move-in dates approaching quickly.
Read Article...
NPR Interview with Former Greensburg Mayor Janssen 5-25-11

Read Transcript

Monday, May 30, 2011

Ground Zero For The Green Housing Movement

...Now, Greensburg is ground zero for the green movement. The area got nearly $100 million from the government to rebuild, including a $50 million school, $25 million hospital and a $3 million city hall - all of them certified LEED Platinum, the most energy efficient you can get - but not inexpensive.

Read more:

How we rebuilt tornado-destroyed town

By Steve Hewitt, Special to CNN
May 26, 2011 10:04 a.m. EDT
An energy-efficient building houses a new business incubator in Greensburg, shown in 2009.

Energy-Efficient Rebuilding After Tragedy: Inspiration from Greensburg, Kansas  Energy Savers Blog | Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What Joplin can learn from Greensburg (and vice versa)

...Have public meetings — lots of ’em. One thing that’s clearly changed in Greensburg is the whole approach to public meetings. There are more of them and more people seem to attend since the storm. That’s probably because, in the months following the tornado, FEMA and local stakeholders held a bunch of meetings to plan the town’s recovery. At the first one I attended in February 2008, more than 200 people showed up, many of them from nearby FEMAville.
It was in these meetings that residents discussed and ultimately ratified — together — the bold decision to “go green.” It is Greensburg city code today that any public building constructed in city limits must be built to LEED Platinum specifications. And many locals spent a little extra to build their homes back with features that went well beyond the energy savings of a standard new housing unit.
Read more:
Joplin tornado victims should take inspiration from Greensburg, Kan., where 95 percent of buildings were lost May 27, 2011