Greensburg is a city in the central part of Kiowa County, located in Southwest Kansas. The population was estimated to be 1,452 in the year 2004. It is the county seat and most populous city of Kiowa County. Greensburg is also home to the world's largest hand-dug well. On May 4, 2007, Greensburg was devastated by an EF5 tornado that traveled rapidly through the area, destroying at least 95% of the city and killing ten people. (Read More)


The May 4, 2007 Tornado
More about the Tornado Outbreak
At 9:45 p.m. CDT on May 4, 2007, Greensburg was hit by an EF5 tornado. The tornado was estimated to be 1.7 miles in width and traveled for nearly 22 miles. Ninety-five percent of the city was confirmed to be destroyed, with the other five percent in severe damage. The National Weather Service estimated winds of the tornado to reach 205 mph. This was the first tornado to ever be rated EF5 since the update of the Fujita scale, and also is the first "5" classification since May 3, 1999, when an F5 tornado ripped through Moore, Oklahoma, as part of the Oklahoma Tornado Outbreak.

Twelve fatalities are attributed to the tornado, ten of them residents of Greensburg. Tornado sirens sounded in the city twenty minutes before the tornado struck, and a tornado emergency was issued, which undoubtedly saved many lives. Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius and President George W. Bush have both declared Kiowa County a disaster area opening up the affected areas for national and international aid.

Volunteer information
Individuals and groups can assist AmeriCorps with debris removal and other jobs throughout town subject to the approval of Greensburg and its law enforcement officers. Volunteers must call 211 (in Kansas) or 888-413-4327 (out-of-state) prior to arrival. Highway 54 is now open to through traffic, though a curfew is in effect from 10PM to 6AM. Arrive at the Volunteer Reception Center on the east side of town, a large red & white tent. Volunteers should bring solid work gloves, jeans, and prepare for hazardous environments. The VRC opens at 10AM and closes at 5PM.

News and Disaster Information
Information regarding the status of Greensburg is updated online daily at the Kansas Adjutant General's office. Businesses and residents are still deciding whether or not to rebuild or relocate to another town. An online petition has been started to persuade Kroger to rebuild the local Dillon's grocery store, which was the only grocery store serving Greensburg and nearby towns.

The Early History of Greensburg
by Frank W. Blackmar (1912)
Greensburg, the county seat and principal city of Kiowa county, is located about 4 miles north of the center of the county on the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific R. R. It was settled in 1885, the year before the county was organized. The first number of the Greensburg Republican was issued on March 22, 1887, by Hollis & Welles, and in an editorial the publishers said "A little more than two years old, yet we are a substantial, thriving and bustling city, with a population of 2,000 earnest, energetic, educated people," etc.

Greensburg was then 28 miles from the nearest railroad. The day before that issue of the Republican was published the people of Center township voted bonds to the amount of $20,000 to aid in the construction of the Kansas Southwestern, and the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific line was then under construction. By July 1, 1886, the city had two banks in operation, but for various reasons the city did not meet the expectations of some of the pioneer settlers, and many of them moved elsewhere. By 1900 the population had dwindled to 343.

Then began an era of steady, substantial improvement, and in 1910 the population had reached 1,199, an increase of more than 250 per cent, in ten years. Greensburg has 2 banks, 2 weekly newspapers (the Republican and the Signal), an opera house, good hotels, Baptist, Christian and Methodist churches, graded public schools, express and telegraph offices, a number of well stocked mercantile establishments, and an international money order postoffice with 2 rural routes. Large quantities of grain and live stock are annually shipped from Greensburg, which is one of the progressive little cities of southwestern Kansas.

Greensburg is home to the world's largest hand dug well. Work had begun on the well in 1887 to provide water for the steam engines of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway and Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. When the well was completed in 1888 it was 109 feet deep and 32 feet in diameter. The well was used as the town's water supply until 1932. In 1939 it was opened as a tourist attraction allowing visitors to descend to the bottom of the well. The adjacent museum displayed a 1000-pound pallasite meteorite until the museum fell down around the meteorite during the 2007 tornado that destroyed the town.

On October 16, 2006, a related smaller meteorite measuring 154 pounds (70 kilograms) was dug up near Greensburg; the excavation proceedings showed that the Brenham meteor strikes occurred roughly 10,000 years ago, during the Pleistocene epoch, rather than 20,000 years ago as previously thought. A younger attraction was the Twilight Theatre, which first showed movies in 1915. There was also an old soda fountain in the downtown drugstore.

As of the U.S. Census in 2000, there were 1,574 people, 730 households, and 453 families residing in the city. The population density was 407.9/km² (1,055.9/mi²). There were 887 housing units at an average density of 229.8/km² (595.0/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.01% White, 0.83% Native American, 0.06% Asian, 1.02% from other races, and 1.08% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.59% of the population.

There were 730 households out of which 23.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.3% were married couples living together, 6.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.9% were non-families. 35.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.14 and the average family size was 2.76.

In the city the population was spread out with 21.5% under the age of 18, 6.5% from 18 to 24, 20.5% from 25 to 44, 25.2% from 45 to 64, and 26.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 100 females there were 91.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,438, and the median income for a family was $39,188. Males had a median income of $28,426 versus $20,875 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,054. About 8.4% of families and 12.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.6% of those under age 18 and 8.0% of those age 65 or over.

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