Tornado Leaves Deaths, Devastation in Its Wake Rescue crews in Greensburg, Kan., continue to search for victims of a devastating tornado that struck the town Friday, killing at least nine. Many expect the number of casualties to grow, as rescuers ply through the wreckage.
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Tornado Leaves Deaths, Devastation in Its Wake

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Tornado Leaves Deaths, Devastation in Its Wake

Tornado Leaves Deaths, Devastation in Its Wake

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LIANE HANSEN, Host:

Frank Morris of member station KCUR reports.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO BROADCAST)

FRANK MORRIS: Randy Rinker(ph) weathered the storm in his sister's basement. When he kicked his way out, the Greensburg he's known for decades had all but vanished.

RANDY RINKER: With the lights or anything, it was really hard to, you know, really understand the magnitude of it until daylight today in total devastation. Our town is, for the most part, gone.

MORRIS: Richard Engelken(ph), for instance, hustled a dozen people - including elderly neighbors and grandkids - down into his basement. After the storm obliterated his house, he picked his way out over someone's freezer, which the tornado had shoved down his basement staircase, and went to work.

RICHARD ENGELKEN: We went door-to-door and checked on all the people that were there. And a lot of people were trapped in their basements, had flashlights in the windows. And we went back later once some of the fire departments start coming down from other towns and start going back and getting them all out, pull them through the windows or digging the rubble out, and trying to get them all out. So it was quite an ordeal.

MORRIS: I'm standing under an - what used to be an awning for a gas station. Some of the pumps are still here; they're all knocked over and destroyed. There were wrapped pieces of carpet and insulation, and tiny, splintered board all beside them. Some truck landed right in the middle of this thing. Most of the metal for this awning apparently blew away and landed a mile from here in a farmer's field. It's a scene of utter, complete, chilling devastation.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHAINSAW REVVING)

MORRIS: Still, the work goes on. In this tire shop on the outskirts of town, Josh Scheck(ph) is working round the clock, fixing tires of police and rescue vehicles that had been stabbed with screws, bolts and other rubble.

JOSH SCHECK: So we'll be here fixing them until they'll all be good and they can come back.

MORRIS: Greensburg city administrator, Steve Hewitt, puts a brave face on the disaster.

STEVE HEWITT: And we're going to find a way to rebuild now. And, you know, we've invested a lot of time and effort. A lot of people have invested a lot of their heritage here. And I think we're going to find a way to turn that around and bring this town back. I think we have an opportunity to bring it back better than it ever was. And I think we're going to have to.

MORRIS: For NPR News, I'm Frank Morris.

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