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KU reacts to deadly Greensburg tornado

How the university is helping

  • The "Green for Greens- burg" drive, sponsored by the KU Alumni Association and Student Alumni Association, is collecting financial donations from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. outside the Adams Alumni Center.

    A goal has been set to raise $25,000 by commencement.

    Volunteers will accept cash and checks, payable to the American Red Cross, earmarked for Greensburg, until May 20.

  • Rick Deibert, project manager of the Kansas Fire and Rescue Training, through KU Continuing Education, will take KU's heavy rescue support unit to Greensburg. A truck with a trailer and technical rescue equipment, the unit will help with cleanup and recovery.
  • Greensburg senior Steph-anie White, will graduate this month. Her parents accepted an invitation to stay in Provost Richard Lariviere's guest home while in town for commencement.
For most people, watching the tornado-ravaged images of Greensburg on the news was disturbing. For Gay Lynn Clock, assistant to the chancellor, the experience literally hit home.

Clock grew up in Greensburg. The morning after the storm, she heard through an early phone call from a friend about the tornado that leveled an estimated 95 percent of the town. Though she no longer has family in the community, Clock called relatives who live in nearby Haviland. Her aunt and uncle had been up all night helping victims who were brought by the busload to Haviland. They helped feed and care for several Greensburg residents, even taking some into their own home. Her cousin, a registered nurse, had also worked through the night providing medical care to those in need.

Seeing her flattened hometown on the national news was a surreal experience.

"My reaction was overwhelming sadness. The images I saw on news reports were of such destruction that is was hard to imagine it being true. I grieve my own selfish loss of personal landmarks that were part of my childhood memories, but my heart breaks for all those people who lost so much more. They lost their current reality," she said.

Amid the scenes of utter destruction, she was able to recognize a few landmarks. The church her grandparents attended was still standing, although the church next door was gone.

"One picture revealed that my grandparent's home was still standing, at least part of it. I lived in three different homes in Greensburg," Clock said. "I never saw any pictures of two of the locations but one house was completely destroyed. My uncle told me later that the house my parents had built was also completely leveled."

Clock has not been able to contact her friends in Greensburg, but said she has found out through the American Red Cross that they survived the tornado. Like many people across the country, she said she wants to help.

"I have a very strong desire to go help with the clean up, but I don't know that I will be able to. I hope to at least visit sometime in the next month or so. I'm sure the best way for most of us to help is by contributing to the various campaigns or Salvation Army or Red Cross," Clock said.

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