Greensburg tornado survivor driven to rebuild in town she calls home

Published: Apr. 30, 2017 at 10:28 PM CDT
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One decade ago Thursday (May 4), an EF-5 tornado destroyed more than 90-percent of the town of Greensburg.

The rare, powerful tornado was the first to be rated an EF-5 since the new Fujita scale classification, and the first "5" rating since 1999.

Sunday night, we began our series leading up to this week's anniversary. The tornado, the victims, the rebuilding efforts and where the city goes from here.

Greensburg, an 84-year-old town is the place Sarah Schmidt called home before the May 4, 2007 tornado. It's a place she still calls home.

Like most people who chose to stay and rebuild, Sarah will tell you there were plenty of challenges, and at times, she has questioned her decision. But she rebuilt in her town without the help of her husband, Harold.

The Schmidts did what they were supposed to do when the tornado hit.

"We were in the basement. We had two chairs three feet apart," Sarah says. "(Harold stood up and wanted to get a flash light."

Like so many in the community, the Schmidt's home was leveled. The powerful tornado destroyed most of the town. The tornado was so strong, it took homes off of their foundations.

In the basement, Sarah says that when Harold stood up, the force of the storm threw him. A truck off the street came down over the wall nose first, crashing down into the basement, crushing Harold.

Sarah's husband was gone and many of her friends left, but Sarah decided to rebuild. She looks at the town of Greensburg today and wishes the community could have made more progress. But she is also thankful for how far it has come and says she won't give up on her town.

"I felt God wanted me here," she says. "I trusted (what) He was going to do."

Sarah's home is where many others, despite losing everything, still call home today.