Community remembers Greensburg tornado that ripped through city 10 years ago

Posted at 7:57 PM, May 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-04 23:32:23-04

On May 4, 2007, one of the most powerful tornadoes in history hit Greensburg, Kansas. It leveled most of the town.

"Oh my! I think it's an F4! Oh, it's gotta be bigger than that. There’s a tornado crossing road in front of us," screamed the two storm spotters who caught the massive twister on video as it touched down around 9:45 at night.

Nearly two miles wide, roaring at more than 200 miles per hour, the twister tore into Greensburg.

“The air pressure dropped severely so we knew this is different.”

Pastor Jeff Blackburn survived the storm huddled in a basement bathroom with his wife and daughter, Cassie Gamble.

“I knew something was wrong because I could feel water on my back,” remembered Gamble.

The storm destroyed 961 homes and businesses. Eleven people died. Sixty people were injured.

“It was a weird atmosphere because people were just in shock. We weren’t really talking about what had just happened just more like are you OK?” Gamble said.

She had huddled in a basement bathroom with her parents.

“I was quietly praying Lord keep us. I didn’t know what was happening,” Blackburn said.

I was one of the first reporters to arrive on the scene shortly after the storm hit. We first spotted Greta, a search dog hunting for survivors.

"We've cleared the pile more or less; there's still something she is smelling in there."

Down the debris-filled street I met Penny Cane. She grew up in town.

"Greensburg is gone. If you look around it's gone," she sighed.

The National Weather Service rated the twister an EF-5. It flattened 95 percent of the town of 1,400.

A decade after the tornado destroyed their town, many have rebuilt and stayed. The pastor and his daughter now reflect on the day that changed everything.

“It wasn’t the freight train sound. You couldn’t hear stuff breaking. It was just crazy wind," remembered Gamble.

She was in high school when the storm hit. She is now married and works for the town’s media center.

Her dad is still the pastor, now leading service in a new church in a town full of new beginnings.

“People want to be here. I want to be here. I want to see where this thing goes. It’s not done.”