190th deploys to Greensburg; provides disaster relief

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Emily Alley
  • 190th ARW Public Affairs

After humanitarian work for Hurricane Katrina and South America, the 190th got an opportunity to serve within its own state. The Kansas National Guard, both Army and Air
Force, sent volunteers to Greensburg as part of a disaster relief effort, which started in early May. "This is what we do in the guard," said Maj. Mark Green, who coordinated the
original cleanup effort for the 190th ARW. 

On May 4, one of the worst tornados on record tore through Greensburg, Kan., and completely destroyed 95 percent of the town. The other five percent was severely damaged. Tornados rated as EF5 produce winds strong enough to throw a projectile the size of a car at speeds up to 100 mph. 

Green said that, despite the damage, many residents kept a sense of humor. For example, one damaged house hung a sign that said "House for sale: good price. New skylights." Another resident placed fake legs with ruby slippers under their roof that had been thrown into a nearby street.
Most residents, according to Green, understood that the guardsmen were tasked with clearing public land, not private property. Services, such as contractors and volunteer church groups, were available to help locals clear the debris from their own property. "We helped out as much as we could," said Green. "We picked up trash once they had moved it to the street." 

Green has been very impressed with the volunteerism of the unit; within one night, 65 volunteers from various squadrons of the 190th had agreed to the four-day deployment to Greensburg. A total force of about 500 volunteers was serving in the town. "The work was seamless across the spectrum," said Green. "Our folks worked well between squadrons and with the Army Guard." After the cleanup started it became obvious that more time was necessary. Week long rotations have been continuing for the past month; Maj. Doug Chase and Master Sgt. Tina Perkins are currently supervising deployed members of the 190th. 

The 190th's Medical Group also had an opportunity to utilize its EMEDS (Expeditionary Medical Support System), which first proved effective while helping victims of Hurricane Katrina. The temporary hospital served volunteers and residents while the original hospital is being replaced. Fortunately, Green says that few of the volunteers were injured. "Three or four folks had to get tetanus shots because they stepped on a nail that went through their boot," but volunteers also had to avoid falling bricks and dehydration. 

An overwhelming number of donations have been sent to Greensburg; workers actually ran out of storage space and have subsequently recommended that concerned citizens donate cash, rather than supplies. Local groups also helped the volunteers. "Food was never a problem," said Green. "Every time you turn around someone was volunteering to cook for you."