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community building | katrina aftermath

Kansas Mutual Aid Reports from tornado devastated Greensburg, Kansas

On Saturday May 12, four members of Kansas Mutual Aid, a Lawrence based class struggle anarchist collective traveled to the small South Central Kansas town of Greensburg. Our intention was to go as a fact-finding delegation, to report back to the social justice movement in Lawrence on what exactly was happening in the city.

On Friday May 4, 2007 Greensburg was almost completely destroyed by a F5 tornado. 97% of the buildings in the town of 1500 were destroyed or damaged beyond repair. Nearly every single resident was left homeless, jobless, and devastated. Shortly after the tornado, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) took control of the recovery efforts in Greensburg. The United Way became the coordinating organization for relief volunteers but, after orders came from FEMA, halted the flow of volunteers into Greensburg. FEMA demanded that Greensburg needed to be "secured" before the area could be opened to real recovery efforts. So, as hundreds of recovery volunteers were told to not come to Greensburg by the United Way, hundreds of police from dozens of Kansas jurisdictions were mobilized to enter the city and establish "control." No agency in the city besides Americorps was offering to help with the removal of this debris, or the recovery of people's homes. FEMA's mission was to safeguard the property of businesses in the area and offer "low interest" loans to property owners affected.

Kansas Mutual Aid is in the midst of organizing a more permanent and structured relief effort, to offer relief in the form of solidarity and mutual aid, and not as charity. Please join us if you can. Please, if you have anything you can offer, or want to help in the relief, e-mail us at kansasmutualaid@hotmail.com

Related: Disasters of our Age: From Fallujah to Greensburg
Katrina and the Rape of an American City

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