Special Reports

May 9, 2007

Heroic dog found -- excerpts from our blog

Mable McCormick is going to get her dog back. Toby, the 3-year-old keeshond credited with saving the 93-year-old Greensburg woman's life as a tornado demolished her home Friday, was located by veterinarians working the disaster Monday.

These items originally appeared Tuesday on our reporters' live blog, which is updated throughout the day.

Mable McCormick is going to get her dog back.

Toby, the 3-year-old keeshond credited with saving the 93-year-old Greensburg woman's life as a tornado demolished her home Friday, was located by veterinarians working the disaster Monday.

"We've got our hero back," McCormick's daughter, Donna Hunter, said Tuesday.

Toby was with relatives in Dodge City a day after a relief worker, Wichita veterinarian Christen Skaer, tracked the dog down at a Pratt veterinary clinic.

The fuzzy, gray-and-white dog sprawled across McCormick's head as the two women took cover Friday in a makeshift shelter inside their home.

Toby deflected a board that struck McCormick. She ended up at Via Christi Regional Medical Center-St. Francis Campus with a head laceration and was listed in good condition Tuesday. Without Toby, Hunter thinks her mother would have been killed.

After McCormick made a public appeal to find Toby, Ellen Querner, founder and president of Pals Animal Rescue, contacted rescuers at the Kansas Department of Transportation headquarters in Greensburg, where about 200 displaced pets have been collected.

Toby, found unharmed except for a coat full of glass shards, had been transferred over the weekend to Pratt.

He already has been reunited with his best friend, Tabby, a 3-year-old Siberian husky that also escaped injury.

The next reunion will be with the owner whose life he saved.

"Getting even one or two dogs back in the right hands is great," Skaer said.

Divers say Greensburg's hand-dug well is OK

Divers from the Sedgwick County Fire Department made an important find Tuesday: The world's largest hand-dug well survived.

Two divers climbed 100 feet down metal stairs and into water 10 to 12 feet deep.

"All we found are a ball cap and a whole bunch of coins," one diver said through a walkie-talkie.

As Fire Division Chief Stewart Segraves listened on a deck over the well, he remembered 30 years ago, throwing a coin into the well on a family trip to Colorado.

"It's important to this community. It's a landmark," Segraves said. "This is one of the few things... a few hours of repair and cleanup and this would be open for business. It's one of the few things below grade that wasn't affected. That's pretty cool."

The crew secured the staircase with lumber, so no one would accidentally fall into the well. To barricade it, they used an old door with a poster that read "Kansas: the real experience."

Couple had to escape from their storm shelter

John and Marsha Adolph huddled in the storm cellar Friday with their dog Sadie, a border collie mix.

"It was pretty scary," John said. "We had a light that started flickering, we lost all electricity, and we could hear glass break and the floor shake and water lines breaking."

Water started pouring into the cellar and 4-by-4 beams holding up the floor above them came crashing down.

John wondered if the door would come off and the tornado would suck them out.

After the storm, he used some of the 4-by-4 pieces to break through the jammed cellar door. He managed to get half of his body through the hole and shouted for help. Neighbors helped free him.

The Adolfs had lived in the two-bedroom house at 212 N. Sycamore for seven years. They returned Monday and Tuesday.

Trees that once stood strong are now stripped of foliage and bark, some of them knocked over into trailers and other vehicles. Only a portion of the front of the house remains. An old refrigeration unit that housed some boats had been blown about 50 yards away. A camper was about a block and a half away.

Given the devastation, they found more than they thought they would, including a bunch of clothes and Marsha's mother's wedding ring.

"That's helping out a lot," John said.

John is a 41-year-old maintenance worker for KDOT. Marsha is a receptionist for the Iroquois Center for Human Development of Greensburg.

He isn't certain about their future in Greensburg.

"We're just taking it one day at a time," he said. "We're not sure what's going to go on."

Item found in rubble inspires rally of support

Just before noon Tuesday, several guys working outside the demolished post office found an American flag in what had been the office's back room.

The men -- Bob Boyer, Paul Mazzanote and Tom Pappas from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and Dave Kenny and LaWayne Smith from the Kansas Air National Guard -- scrambled over broken debris and raised the flag on the bent flagpole that used to stand outside.

At first, it drooped into the rubble because the pole was bent downward. So the men, with a crowd looking on, removed rubble to make room for the flag.

Many in the crowd looked deeply moved.

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