KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's been nearly two years since an EF-5 tornado destroyed roughly 90 percent of Greensburg, Kansas on May 4, 2007. In its aftermath many Greensburg residents were left homeless and hundreds of buildings were gone. One-by-one, these homes and businesses that were reduced to piles of rubble continue to be replaced by new ones.
As the rebuilding process continues, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently announced the Direct Housing Operation in Greensburg, which provided housing assistance to nearly 243 families and rental assistance to hundreds more, will come to an end May 6. Currently there are 19 families still in temporary housing units. FEMA employees have been working with the remaining families as they prepare to move from their temporary housing units into permanent, long-term housing ranging from newly built homes to repaired or rebuilt rental properties.
"The housing program in Greensburg has been a great success," said Arthur Freeman, Acting Regional Administrator for FEMA Region VII. "Seventy-percent of the residents who received direct housing assistance plan on returning to Greensburg."
FEMA personnel were in the community immediately after the tornado to assist local and state agencies in response efforts and the agency continues to provide funding and resources as the community rebuilds. In the past two years FEMA has:
- Reimbursed local and state agencies $13.7 million for the cost of clearing debris and other emergency protective measures in Greensburg and Kiowa County.
- Distributed $1.8 million in housing assistance funds to Kiowa County residents. An additional $970,000 was provided to households for other disaster-related needs such as uninsured property losses, transportation needs, and medical expenses.
- $78 million has been made available to public and non-profit entities to rebuild vital infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, and city buildings.
In addition, shortly after the tornado, FEMA implemented its long-term planning program, Long-Term Community Recovery (LTCR). LTCR embeds recovery professionals and subject-matter-experts into the community early in the recovery process through partnerships with other federal agencies, state and local officials, and private consultants. LTCR helped Greensburg develop the Greensburg Long-Term Recovery Plan which outlined more than 40 projects and programs that will help them accomplish their vision. Many of those projects are currently underway.
FEMA leads and supports the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation, to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the nation from all hazards including natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters.