- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 6, 2007

President Bush this morning ordered federal disaster relief to Kansas for a series of tornados and storms that on Friday destroyed an entire town, killing eight.

“Our hearts are heavy for the loss of life in Greensburg, Kansas. A tornado devastated that community. It just basically wiped it out,” Mr. Bush said after attending morning church services at St. John’s Church.

At least eight people were killed in Greensburg, a town of 1,500, in southwestern Kansas, when a tornado — estimated by some storm chasers to be anywhere from a half-mile to a mile wide — flattened most of the town.

One other person was killed in nearby Stafford County on Friday, and about 50 people were injured, some seriously. An estimated 90 to 95 percent of the town is gone.

Mr. Bush said he had spoken to Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, Democrat, and to Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican, who have seen the damage firsthand.

“They said to me, it’s hard to describe how bad this community was hit,” Mr. Bush said, speaking to reporters with first lady Laura Bush. “It’s going to take a long time for the community to recover.”

Tornados and floods continued to hit the Midwest yesterday. The National Weather Service reported more than 60 tornado touchdowns, 40 of them between 6 and 9 p.m. Central time. Tornado warnings were in effect in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Iowa.

Mr. Bush’s declaration of a major disaster area in Kansas makes federal funds available for disaster relief and recovery.

R. David Paulison, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, named Michael L. Karl as the coordinating officer for federal recovery efforts in the affected areas.

“I hope that helps,” Mr. Bush said of the federal aid.

The president said he is “confident” that Greensburg will be rebuilt.

“There’s a certain spirit in the Midwest of our country, a pioneer spirit that still exists,” Mr. Bush said. “The most important thing now, though, is for our citizens to ask for the good Lord to comfort those who hurt.”

The White House did not comment today on whether Mr. Bush plans to visit Greensburg or any of the other affected areas.

Queen Elizabeth II of Britain and Prince Philip will come to the White House tomorrow morning, and Mr. and Mrs. Bush are hosting a state dinner in the queen’s honor tomorrow night.

The queen will then host Mr. and Mrs. Bush for a dinner at the British Embassy Tuesday evening.

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