Political storms: Disaster rail

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

How we got here

Though the odds are slim of another town being wiped out by a Greenburg-style tornado, every big city and tiny village in America is at risk for some kind of natural disaster. At Greensburg's sixth-month anniversary, GateHouse News Service reporter Lauren FitzPatrick looked at how the feds react to emergency -- and stopped when she learned that whether a hurricane or earthquake even constitutes a disaster rests entirely in the president's hands.

Using a spreadsheet computer program and FEMA records, she worked the math

for every state in every year since 1953 only to find a correlation between states that hold sway during a presidential election year and disaster declarations.

Who contributed

Lauren FitzPatrick, GateHouse News Service reporter, who crunched numbers, visited Greensburg, Kan., and wrote the stories of a system where the president calls the shots, with no oversight, and of the city of Greensburg and its people as they struggle to rebuild six months after that town was destroyed.

Justin L. Fowler, photographer for the Springfield Journal-Register in Illinois’ capital, who shot photos of the devastation and rebuilding of Greensburg.

Tom Sudore, GateHouse new media editor, who shot video of Greensburg, and the people whose lives were uprooted.

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More inside

Spirit of Greensburg: The tiny town of Greensburg, Kan., razed by an F5 tornado on May 4, 2007, has grand plans for the future, and Leonardo DiCaprio’s a believer. Include page numbers.

Disaster funding by state: See where your state falls in presidential approval for disaster funds.

More online

Check out videotaped interviews with Greensburg survivors, and a slideshow that depicts at once the destruction and the hope of the tiny town in southwest Kansas. Include your web site.