Run date: Nov. 4, 2007, linked to six-month anniversary of Kansas tornado

In addition to stories and photos, GHNS is offering several videos shot from Greensburg, Kan., which was destroyed by a tornado six months ago. CLICK HERE to go to the video page, which includes embed codes for your Web sites.



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Disaster Budget



MAIN BAR (45) When disaster strikes, it’s politics to the rescue (or not). The tornado that leveled Greensburg, Kan., proved enough of a catastrophe to warrant a presidential call for help, but many medium-sized disasters go unrescued if they don’t hit a key election state or during an election year. GHNS numbers show how disaster relief is very political, and the purse-strings rest entirely in the president’s hands. With examples from our states, showing how their political irrelevance over the years may have cost them in disaster aid. Experts call for congressional oversight over disaster. FITZPATRICK


DEFINITIONS BREAKOUT: Short definitions of disaster, etc., as spelled out in the laws

HISTORY BREAKOUT: History of FEMA and governing laws.

NUMBERS BREAKOUT: More details from GateHouse analysis

- General destruction of Greensburg (FOWLER)


* DISASTER FUNDING BY STATE: State-by-state listing of payment rates. Find your state here to help you localize. Note: If you have room for only one graphic, this is a good one. (WEISS)

- POLITICS AND DISASTERS: Takes a look at federal aid to states during presidential re-election years going back decades to show that swing states and early primary states benefit more than solid red or blue states. Money flows more freely during election years and to states that make a difference in those elections. (WEISS)

- TOP 10 costliest catastrophes. (WEISS)

GREENSBURG SIDEBAR (25) Even with federal money, Greensburg needs personal will and private efforts to rebuild. Six months after a Twister-esque tornado barreled through, Greensburg’s residents still are struggling to decide what to do next. Leaders go Hollywood to design a green layout they hope will put their teeny town on the map. One young dad can’t wait to move his brood out of a FEMA trailer and  into their giant new home. But a mom worries she and her girls won’t ever get to go home again because new bricks can’t rebuild what they’ve lost. And older folks worry about who will pay for the shiny new town. FITZPATRICK
ART: photos of residents, city manager (FOWLER)


REBUILDING GREENSBURG: Short bulleted breakout on some of the logistics. FITZ

WANT TO HELP? Contact info for readers who want to help Greensburg. FITZ


ILLINOIS (15) Illinois is too consistently a blue state to worry presidential plotters, so its disasters  -- floods, etc., aren't as well responded to as those in swing states. Illinois ranks 30th in disaster requests that were declared federal emergencies, and during presidential re-election years, that ranking falls to 39. In off years, Illinois comes in 33rd, with 69 percent. Once an emergency is declared, though, the land of Lincoln is 13th in terms of money it receives per disaster. With examples of requests that were turned down -- and reactions to what happened without federal funds. FITZPATRICK

NEW ENGLAND (15) Massachusetts and Connecticut are solid blue states, so their disasters -- which are likely to be smaller than other coastal states -- haven’t been very well funded. When it comes to having its funding requests approved, Massachusetts ranks 37th. Connecticut is 26th. But New Hampshire (an essential primary election state) made the top 10. With examples of requests that were turned down -- and reactions to what happened without federal funds. FITZPATRICK

YOUR OWN LOCALIZATION: How successful has your area been in getting federal disaster funding? Is your town in a state that’s solidly Republican or Democratic? Has that affected the money you’ve received to clean up after disasters? You can use the Illinois sidebar as a blueprint for localization, adding your own numbers and quotes, and taking out the Illinois-specific references. Note: See disaster funding by state graphic for info about your state. For more detailed info on disaster requests and turndowns, you’ll find a link to an Excel database.
ART: file art of disasters in your area

WITH: link to database with more detailed information (for localization, not for print)

RAIL: Info on the package, including promos to online content and other content.


SLIDESHOW: Photos taken by Springfield State Journal-Register photographer Justin Fowler show signs of the devastation in a powerful slideshow. FOWLER

MAIN VIDEO AND SHORT VIDEOS: Greensburg, Kan., was devastated by a tornado six months ago, losing about 95 percent of the town and leaving 1,400 people homeless. The city is working to rebuild. In the meantime, residents struggle to come to terms with the tornado and their plans for their future. Some will return to Greensburg to rebuild. Others see an uncertain future for the city – and will not. SUDORE

THREE VIGNETTES (short videos):

-    Harlen and John Wheeler had a home and business in Greensburg before the tornado. They are renting a house in Pratt, Kan., which is about 30 miles from Greensburg. They plan to see how the rebuilding efforts in Greensburg go before moving back. SUDORE

-    Jill Eller was running an oil field supply company in Greensburg before the tornado. She lost that and her home. For now, she’s relocated her business to Mullinville, a town about 10 miles west of Greensburg, where she is also staying in a trailer with her husband and two daughters. The family plans to rebuild in Greensburg. SUDORE

-    Janice Haney lost her home and business in the tornado. She is staying in a FEMA trailer located in the southeast edge of Greensburg. She is planning to build on the family farm outside of Greensburg. SUDORE



Run date: Nov. 4, 2007, linked to six-month anniversary of Kansas tornado




- Political storms: Database for localization

- Political storms: Presidents use politics to decide disaster funding

- Political storms: By the numbers breakout

- Political storms: Illinois loses out on disaster funding

- Political storms: New England a mixed bag when it comes to disaster funding