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Tornado in Kansas

In southwestern Kansas a dozen tornadoes struck down in a town called Greensburg. It left nine people dead and more than 60 others injured. The National Weather Service reported "double digits" of tornados in six counties, and meteorologists described the tornados as strong winds that raced up to 110 miles an hour. Strong winds lifted trucks and raked rooftops, plowing through businesses and houses.

I read two stories. The first story is from the Washington Post and reported by Peter Slevin. The second story is from the New York Times and reported by Reuters.

The Washington Post story emphasized on the damages. Slevin writes, "The tornado knocked out power and communications leaving residents of the town of 1,500 to search in darkness for neighbors and friends. Emergency vehicles lay tangled, and key buildings were badly damaged, including the elementary school, high school, city hall and emergency operations center."

The language that Slevin uses is powerful, yet melodramatic. The words he uses to set-up the scene in my opinion over do it, "knocked out," "badly" and "tangled."

Slevin goes on chronologically about what happened in the town of Greensburg. I think this a great way to interest the reader and put them in the story. If Slevin would have used an hourglass form I think there could be a bigger risk in having an unsympathetic undertone because it would be hard to put the reader into the story.

He also quotes Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a meteorologist, and a city administrator to explain the natural disaster. At the end he reports on what is being done about survivors, "By nightfall Saturday, hundreds of people were settling into Red Cross shelters elsewhere, many taken by waves of school buses." I think this is an awkward way to end a serious story. I personally would have talked about the survivors themselves and how they feel or what their experiences were, not how they shoved into a school bus.

In the middle of the New York Times story in all caps it reads, "HOSPITAL, SCHOOLS DESTROYED" Then the first sentence says, "Greensburg's hospital and schools were destroyed." That is all the information about the Hospital and schools. I find it odd that the Times would make hype something and not mention anything about it.

The first thing that the Times wrote that the Washington Post left out was information on the victims. Reuters wrote, "There's a lot of shock and concern," said a Red Cross volunteer. "There's a lot of concern for family members they can't locate." They also wrote about how Greensburg residents were served sloppy Joes for lunch and handed out stuffed animals to the youngest survivors and oxygen and medication to the oldest.

The second thing that the Times wrote about and the Washington Post left out is the statistics on tornados it says, "Tornadoes kill about 70 people on average in the United States each year. The worst cluster came on April 3 and 4 1974, when 307 people were killed by 148 tornadoes in 13 states. The most violent single tornado appeared on March 18, 1925, killing 689 people as it ran from Missouri across southern Illinois into Indiana.

I like it how the Times talk about the history because it reminds the reader the reality of tornadoes and how other people in different times have been greatly affected. Not only is it a reminder of the past and the reader into reality, but it also ends the story in a nice tone- it's not dramatic, short or dull.