The Story of Greensburg, Kansas

The City of Greensburg, Kansas, was struck by an EF5 tornado (winds in excess of 200 mph) on May 4, 2007. Ninety-five percent of the infrastructure of Greensburg was demolished that night – only three buildings remained, none of them residential.  Eleven people lost their lives.

Rachel Stamm (Founder) and Erin Hulme (Advisory Board) traveled to Greensburg in March of 2013 to learn more about the story of Greensburg first-hand.  Close to Home is a business that has been further inspired by the personal stories heard during that visit.  The quality of disaster response has an important impact on a community’s ability to recover and restore post-disaster.  That lesson informs our work at Close to Home.  The story of Greensburg and its residents has become a beacon of hope as well as a valuable resource for other towns and residents recovering from natural disasters.

Albert Einstein is known for defining insanity as… “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  We must learn from those who have survived disasters and found their way to recovery in order to figure out what works – and to not repeat the mistakes of the past.  Greensburg has not only survived and rebuilt, they have done so as an example to the world of how a small midwestern town can rebuild completely sustainably.  They are an inspiring example of optimism, of people who turned devastation into opportunity.  If Close to Home could play a part in changing the current paradigm of the design and deployment of emergency housing in the United States, it would be an incredible opportunity.


Natural disasters are an ongoing issue across the United States: hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, forest fires, earthquakes, etc.  In the aftermath of these disasters, the greatest need that people have, after food and water, is housing.

Between 2002 and 2012, natural disasters in the U.S. cost insurance companies $350 billion in claims.  In the last twelve months alone, large-scale natural disasters have ravaged cities in the U.S., leaving tens of thousands of residents without homes. Hurricane Sandy displaced 776,000 people.  The Moore, Oklahoma tornadoes damaged 13,000 homes, and in September 2013, 17,000 homes were lost during the floods in and around Boulder, Colorado.Close to Home believes our marketplace will impact the speed with which emergency shelters and temporary homes are deployed as well as the number of people who are able to access these homes once a disaster occurs.


Close to Home is a boon to people and the planet, while making a profit, and fulfilling a need – our business has community restoration as its underlying purpose.  PEOPLE: Housing people quickly and as close to home as possible, lessening the mental and physical stress of our customers.  PLANET: Creating demand for sustainable building products across the supply chain.  PROFIT: Profiting from the creation of a marketplace for post-disaster homes.  PURPOSE: Providing dignity, hope and meaningful work as communities rebuild and restore.

Published by Rachel Stamm

I am passionate about understanding the needs and desires of my clients regarding how a house can support their lifestyle. Whether you are moving into or out of the Seattle area, downsizing, moving up, or dreaming of your perfect first home, I will do everything I can to see that your transaction goes as smoothly as possible. I have been a licensed real estate broker since 2000 (yes, 21 years now!) and I am committed to the highest standards of ethics and customer service. I am now a 12-Year Winner of Seattle magazine’s “Five Star Award” – an award based entirely on customer satisfaction. My goal is always to exceed the expectations of my clients.

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