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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

This Weekend in Pratt and Greensburg

We had a pretty good time this weekend, arriving in Pratt, KS late Friday night. Derek Shaffer, Darin and I headed out towards Wilmore Saturday morning, but could never find the exact spot, so we headed towards Greensburg around noon. Along the way, we stopped in front of, what used to be, Daniel's house. Pretty sad scene there...everything's gone. All we could see was a concrete slab of what used to be a home, tree stumps, and a trailer for a semi. I found a little toy football embedded into the ground, which made me think more about how these storms really do affect people and their lives. I tried to imagine what it was like that night, and couldn't.

We then headed into Greensburg where things didn't look as bad as they did last 4th of July. The stoplight was working, the Kwikshop was remodeled (with a mini-grocery store inside!)...a bar was on the west end of town. I could tell that a lot of the people in town were starting to get back on their feet, gathering their expressions with smiles on their faces. Morale seemed a lot higher than just two months after that night.

We toured a bit around town noticing a DOW parked on the south side, a few blocks south of the main junction, and were immediately curious. After driving on the outskirts of FEMAville one time, Darin wanted to let Josh Wurman, Justin Walker and others know about the event that night, so he and Derek walked out to greet them (without disturbing the filming taking place) and came back about 10 minutes later, while I tried to find a way to get a hold of Anita. They came back and said Wurman pretty much snubbed them, and brushed them away pretty quickly. I guess his notorious arrogant attitude rings true! If I were him, I'd hand over senior forecasting duties to Justin Walker!!

After that we pulled into the Kwik Shop and an elderly man started up small talk with me about the wind and the mild weather. After pumping gas, we waited about 10 minutes, when Mickey Ptak, Greg Stumpf and Shane Adams pulled up. We chatted for a bit and coincidentally found Anita's daughter there, who would take us to Anita's house where we would chat for half an hour or so, before heading back over to Pratt to set up. It was great hearing the stories from Anita and her husband, Rick and to finally meet Anita!!! Rick's story of him running from the highway patrol to get his animals and vehicle can be found here (part I), here (part II) and here (part III). If you like stories with humor and a good ending, I recommend reading it!!

We then stopped at McDonald's in Pratt for a quick bite when Darin got out of the car and pointed behind us, and low-and-behold it is Mr. Stewart, the elderly man we picked up on the west side of Greensburg that night!! Derek and I approached him inside and asked him if he remembered us, and he didn't at first lol. I think he sort of remembered, but not totally...he told us he was heading to the event after he had an ice cream cone and was going to pick up his friend. He told us stories about Greensburg and didn't seem too coherent (as he is at least into his 80's) but we enjoyed his nostalgic memories and he explained to us that his house on the southwest side of Greensburg was currently getting fixed and that he was tired of living in an apartment there in Pratt. Twice a week he delivers fliers about events to Greensburg and Pratt residents and "Project Greensburg" was on there. We left and arrived at the community college and set up.

Jennifer Ritterling, Matt Gerard and Jim Johnson showed up to help us out and it was much needed. We set up and people were already coming in at around 5 p.m. 30 minutes before the doors opened.

Running out of time.......I'll post the rest with more pics later today...


Steve Miller said...

That's damn cool that not that long ago you were trying to figure out who that man was. Now you have had an opportunity to talk to him and hear his story. Really cool.

Anita said...

I'm so glad to hear that Wesley (Mr. Stewart) is coming back!! He's such a fixture in Greensburg, I can't imagine town without

We really had fun meeting all of you... and the program was awesome!

As you go down 183, there used to be a tiny sign on the right side of the road, pointing west down a dirt road, that said "Wilmore". It's the "back way" in that takes you across the railroad tracks... Is that sign gone? Other wise, take 183 south to 160 and then east, there is a paved county road leading into Wilmore from there... We used to drive all the way to Wilmore every SUnday for church because we love Wilmore so much, but the small number of people still attending church there made them decide to close services.

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