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Sunday, July 08, 2007

4th of July in Greensburg (Full Account)

Well, everything went well on the 4th. We were on Highway 50 east of Kalvesta about 10 miles, when we kept an eye out on the storm to our north...we laughed of how it looked like the storm had a wall cloud on the northern side of it. Well, we watched it on radar as an outflow boundary screamed southward, and as soon as the boundary interacted with our storm, along the leading edge of it, a nice smooth vortex formed at the surface first then went up a few hundred feet before it disappeared. We were like, "Hmm, Greensburg is only 30 miles away!" We felt it was unnecessary to report it, since the storm went very linear and looked rather disorganized shortly after. Didn't take any pics/video of it.

We got ahead of the storm which was moving due south and arrived in Greensburg around 5 pm. We were trying to find Brian, and had to take cover under a tent, due to the intense rain, some small hail, and strong winds. Here's a pic of the tent, it seemed like the whole town was under it and the tent showed signs of giving way, which wouldn't have been fun.

Click to enlarge..

After the rain commenced about 15 minutes later, we decided to go for a drive around town. About 5 minutes later, Daniel called and said he was coming back from the farm and wanted to know where we were so we could meet up. He jumped in with us on the west part of town and he took us on a little tour of the town, telling us amazing stories people had shared with him.

One that stood out was of a house on Main Street that used to hold a sign that read "Thanks to the 12 unknown gentleman who saved my father's life." Unfortunately, he died a few days later. Evidentally, a truck landed on top of him in his basement. He told us of a story of his friend on the very last southern street in Greensburg who started walking north and found his neighbor face down in a pool of water, I believe he said he was doing better, but still in the hospital. He told us stories of President Bush and how he got to meet him, and that he felt GeorgeW was an honest man. He asked him, "What religion are you?" He told him he was Mennonite, and president Bush laughed and said, "I knew it." He then said, "Do you have your church?" He told him he did. He then said, "Do you have your family?" He told him he did. President Bush said, "Do you have your friends?" Daniel agreed.
I wonder how many average people get to meet the president, I can't imagine very many do.

We then went back to his house, where I promised to show him video and images from that night of the storm. Before we arrived, he told us of how tons of volunteers showed up from "Disaster Relief" a Christian-funded relief organization that helps those in need after natural disasters. Coincidentally, a friend, Kurt Hulst, is affiliated with them. I think he said somewhere between 800 volunteers helped remodel his father's rental house that wasn't damaged too bad in West Greensburg. They also combed his fields picking up debris so he could continue to farm it, which I guess, there is still a lot there.

As we walked in, his children greeted us along with his wife. She told us thank you for helping her husband out, she really appreciated it. I told her we just did what anyone else would do, and plus, he helped us navigate around the debris on backroads. I could tell she was sincere and it meant a lot to me that she said it.

We showed his family the photos and video, and they asked a bunch of questions and we tried to explain stuff the best we could. They seemed pretty interested and prior to this, never saw but one photo of the tornado and no video of it. We thanked them for letting us hang out at his house and followed him up to the pig roast back at the park. We then met up with Brian and after awhile, he jumped in and we did the interview of how things went down that night, showed him how we use our laptop with spotter network, then answered any questions he had in different locations south of Greensburg. We drove by and stopped at that gas plant, which still had debris everywhere near it, and I instantly got that feeling I had in my stomach and head again.

We made our way back showing locations along with time lines, then headed back into town, as a beautiful sunset was now in the makings. We dropped him off, told him we'd get in touch with him, and Darin, Alexis and I moved to Main street and just watched an absolutely amazing sunset. Pictures can never really capture the essence or the senses that you get of when you were actually there. Darin did a time lapse of it that will hopefully be used for the Storms of 2007 DVD he is producing for that day.

After that, we grabbed a pop and some chips from the re-opened Kwik Shop, and set up to take fireworks a few blocks west of main, and then just north of it. Since they were shooting on the east side, we thought we would be in good position. We probably would have been if we had about 300 mm, and unfortunately I forgot I even had it on me. I snapped this photo, and its safe to say I'm embarrassed with it. My lens seems to have focusing problems (17-70) because I was sure I had it locked on infinity, but it never seems to quite get there. On top of that, the next day it was malfunctioning, and blowing out every photo I would take.

Click to enlarge:

Turning to the northeast I shot that grain elevator, and we decided to move closer in and snapped a few more photos. I really suck at getting lightning or fireworks. I need to read up more about it. This was a few blocks east of Main.

It wasn't too bad of a show for being such a small town, we eventually made our way back to Wichita where we stayed the night.

The next day I decided to take the back roads home and we ended up shooting a lot of photography. Here are a few pics. My birthday is on Tuesday, that's about all the exciting news I have for now.

This was at some lake, I can't recall right now lol, that had a river feeding into it. It was loud and mist would spray us nearly 100 yards away. It was cool to get a shot of the rainbow coming out of it overhead too.

Click to enlarge:

It was good to see Daniel again, and I hope he and his family, along with the other residents of Greensburg, get their lives back on track. We are going to be sending him all of the video and pictures (from other chasers too) pretty soon. This was a long post, probably my longest to date, but that's what blogs are for, to remember.

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