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Bush praises new 'green' town rebuilt out of tornado ruins

by Staff Writers
Greensburg, Kansas (AFP) May 4, 2008
US President George W. Bush praised the courage of the small Kansas community of Greensburg Sunday, as they rebuild a new 'green' town on the ruins of their homes devastated by a tornado a year ago.

Exactly 12 months since the disaster, which obliterated 95 percent of the town, Bush came to speak to students graduating from the high school here, and with it "celebrate your year-long journey from tragedy to triumph."

"The Greensburg Class of 2008 has learned that America's communities are stronger and better than any storm," the president said.

He said that with their graduation, the students prove that "Greensburg, Kansas is back and its best days are ahead."

On the evening of May 4, 2007, a category-five tornado swept through the 1,300-strong town, killing nine people and razing to the ground the school, the hospital and more than 900 houses.

Bush, haunted by his administration's slow response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, visited Greensburg a few days later.

Town leaders vowed after the disaster to rebuild Greensburg with a new edge -- to make it the first town in the United States to have all municipal projects built to the highest environmental and efficiency design standards.

Whereas previously its only pull was having the world's largest hand-dug well, the town is now building an eco lodging project, a recycling center and a water conservation system to turn rain into drinking water.

Officials hope the new venture will put their tiny community on the map as a leader in green living, help the environment and also, more pressingly, bring people back to Greensburg and boost its economy.

"This community is dedicated to putting the 'green' in Greensburg. As you work to achieve this vision, the federal government will honor its commitments, and stand by you," Bush said.

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Washington DC (SPX) May 01, 2008
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