Greensburg On Comeback Trail...

A year after an F5 tornado devastated the town of Greensburg, Kansas, there are signs of new life. CBS/Steven St. John

Greensburg, Kan. is undaunted in its reconstruction program.

The tiny town was all but flattened by a massive tornado on May 4, 2007 -- but its residents vowed to rebuild and, a year later, are well on the way. What's more, they've vowed to make theirs the greenest town in the nation.

The Early Show is visiting all week long, for its special series, "Tragedy to Triumph: Greensburg Rising."

We're helping to build an eco-friendly playground, mixing with the townsfolk, telling their stories, and providing special surprises all along the way.

On Wednesday, the University of Kansas Jayhawks, winners of this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament, shocked the Greensburg high school basketball team and town residents by visiting the school -- itself a source of inspiration.

Officials got it reopened on Aug. 15, a mere three-and-a-half months after the funnel changed Greensburg forever. And the high school team was as determined as the rest of the community, playing a 20-game schedule, all on the road due to the heavy damage the tornado did to the school gym, and making it to the state tournament for the first time in 30 years.

We learned all about the school's return, and the team's tale. Much more on that at the bottom of this story.

We saw the green going into Greensburg's arts center and an apartment complex, and learned about going green in our own homes.

Also Wednesday, we got a progress report on the playground, which is being put together in only a few days, and we put a Greensburg family in touch with one in Suffolk, Va. whose properties were badly damaged by the twisters that hit there Monday. The Greensburg natives used their firsthand experience to encourage the Virginia-ites about recovering from tornadoes:



As for the playground:



Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith learned about the green aspects of the arts center from Steve Thomas, host of the new Planet Green program, "Renovation Nation" (you may also recognize Thomas from his 14 years as host of "This Old House"), and co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez got insight on the center's eco-friendly nature from University of Kansas Architecture Professor Dan Rockhill, who designed the arts center along with 22 graduate students:



Thomas gave Early Show weatherman and features reporter Dave Price a tour of a home whose primary color can only be described as green:



And Thomas showed Harry around a green housing complex:



Finally, the story of the central, inspirational role the school, and the basketball team played in the town's rebirth -- and of the surprise visit from the Jayhawks:



Wilson's Sporting Goods donated lots of apparel and equipment, including its "green" basketballs, which are both green in color and made from recycled rubber. Wilson's "Rebound" basketball is the world's first "green" one. And NAMM, the trade association for the international music products industry, said it would donate as much money and equipment as it takes to get the school's music program up and running again.
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