Greensburg Gives Hope to Tornado-ravaged Communities

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Greensburg Gives Hope to Tornado-ravaged Communities

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"Greensburg Gives Hope to Tornado-ravaged Communities" by @Crossroads President @MikeSwenson

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1966 Topeka Tornado

Thursday, June 27, 2013 - 6:00pm

CONTENT: Article

by Mike Swenson, President of Crossroads

The devastation we have seen from nature in the past few years is mind numbing when you think about it all at once. Earthquakes. Tsunamis. Hurricanes. Floods. This spring in the United States, we’ve already seen historic destruction and loss of life from tornadoes.

Being a fourth generation Kansan, tornadoes are part of the landscape. The Wizard of Oz jokes get old from my coastal friends, but let’s face it, we live in a place dubbed Tornado Alley, so what do you expect?

When I was 10 years old, I lived in Topeka, Kansas, and my family had just moved to the southwest edge of town near a big hill named Burnett’s Mound. Native American legend had it that as long as there was nothing constructed on Burnett’s Mound, the big hill would protect Topeka from tornadoes. I guess since I was living in a house built on the lower slope of the hill the protection clause was null and void. 

Sure enough, on June 8, 1966, a killer tornado formed outside of town, powered its way over Burnett’s Mound and cut a 20-mile-long diagonal swath from southwest Topeka to the city limits on the northeast side. Our new house suffered some damage but we were far enough outside the core that we avoided the complete destruction that occurred just a quarter mile away.

The images from Moore, Oklahoma, and those from the recent past in Tuscaloosa and Joplin are vivid reminders of that day nearly 45 years ago. But what I also remember vividly is the way the city of Topeka came together and didn’t let nature’s dark side cut a permanent swath through the real heart of the city.

The people of Moore, Tuscaloosa and Joplin and smaller communities like Reading, Kansas, which was virtually destroyed the day before the Joplin tornado, will show the same spirit and resiliency as we did in Topeka in the 1960s and the city of Greensburg, Kansas, has demonstrated more recently.

May 4, 2007, the city of Greensburg was completely destroyed by a tornado. What that city has accomplished since then is one of the greatest examples of a community coming together in history. Not only are they rebuilding their town on the plains of Kansas, they have built a true community of the future making their name of Greensburg more than just a name. As they put it, they are “Rebuilding Greensburg: Stronger, Better, Greener.”

While the citizens of Moore are still facing unbearably tough times, as are many other places across the globe, let’s shine a little light on everyone with the example of Greensburg.

As I think about the work we do at Crossroads in cause marketing, I want to use Greensburg as a shining example of what great cause programs should be all about. At the end of the day, it isn’t about a halo for the corporate brand and it isn’t just about raising more money for a cause. The only result that matters is that the world becomes a better place because people got together and worked to make it better. That’s a cause we can all rally around. Just as Greensburg has shown, the people of Moore will help show us the way in the future.


Keywords: Social Impact & Volunteering | Crossroads | Environment | Events, Media & Communications | Mike Swenson | Social Impact & Volunteering | cause marketing | disaster relief | public relations | tornado relief

CONTENT: Article