first_imgCity Administrator Steve Hewitt estimated 95 percent of the town of 1,500 was destroyed and predicted rescue efforts could take days because survivors could be trapped in basements and under rubble. Among the only structures that survived was the Bar H Tavern, the town’s lone bar. It was briefly converted into a morgue. Survivors picked over the remnants of their homes and possessions, still dazed by the twister’s strength and scope. The town, previously best known as the home of the world’s largest hand-dug well – 32 feet in diameter, 109 feet deep when it was finished in 1888 – was a nightmare of splintered homes and smashed vehicles, the air redolent with the smell of sap from trees stripped of bark. “We want everybody to know, and I plead to the American people as well as the people here in Kansas, this is a huge catastrophe that has happened to our small town,” Hewitt said. “All my downtown is gone. My home is gone. My staff’s homes are gone. And we’ve got to find a way to get this to work and come to work every day and get this thing back on its feet. It’s going to be tough.” Among the funnel clouds Saturday were a series of half-mile- wide “wedge” tornadoes – similar to the one that devastated Greensburg on Friday night, meteorologist Mike Umscheid said. Umscheid said the slow-moving storm system would likely spawn severe weather early into this morning. “It looks like it’s going to be another long night,” he said. Greensburg residents said they heard tornado sirens – a common feature of towns in “Tornado Alley” – about 20 minutes before Friday’s storm hit. Even with that heads-up, Frank Gallant had no place to go. Gallant, who uses a wheelchair, had no basement, so he moved to the center of his house with his miniature pinscher, No. 5. “You just hope you’ve lived up to the Lord’s expectations, and you’re going to the good place and not the bad,” said Gallant, 47. Terry Gaul, a salesman on his way back from a business trip, pulled into a John Deere dealership with his partner to wait out what they thought was a hailstorm. “The next thing we heard was this loud rumble,” said Gaul, his red polo shirt stained with blood and his face crosshatched with cuts. “There were these two John Deere combines sitting there, and the next thing I know, they started rocking. Then we started spinning like a windmill, and I said, ‘Oh, boy, it’s all over with now.”‘ The tornado rolled Gaul’s van, throwing him into the back seat. When he came out, he noticed something missing. “I never seen where those two combines went,” he said. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! GREENSBURG, Kan. – A fresh wave of tornadoes ripped through the Plains late Saturday, a day after a tornado all but destroyed this town, killing eight and injuring dozens more. The National Weather Service said it had received reports “well into the double digits” of twisters touching down in six counties. Numerous tornadoes were reported from South Dakota south into Oklahoma as forecasters scrambled to keep issuing warnings. The new storms forced rescuers to abandon search efforts Saturday in southwest Kansas, where crews had spent the day digging through the wreckage from Friday night’s giant tornado. That twister left little standing in Greensburg beyond the local pub. Friday’s weather was blamed for nine deaths in Kansas, a figure authorities feared could rise even before the latest twisters. last_img