A Category 5 tornado ripped the town asunder. Eight tornadoes had blown through the town in years past, but this was by far the worst. Eleven people died. Almost every single building was destroyed, CBS News Early Show anchor Harry Smith reports.
Dwane and Esther Shank rode out the storm in a cellar under their car dealership.
"It took my house, it took my business, it took my sons and business, it took my church … it took it all," Esther said.
Afterward, it took the Shanks half an hour to work their way through the rubble - and onto the street.
"I had to stop and go block by block to find my house," Dwane said.
What they saw stunned them and everyone else. Where once there had been a town, now there was nothing.
Many of the 1,500 residents wondered if their town would survive. Lots of small towns on the Plains are dying, not thriving.
Could this place rebuild quite literally from scratch?
Through sheer grit and determination, school opened on time for the fall semester - and the Greensburg boys basketball made it all the way to the state tournament, even though they never played a home game…their gym was in ruins.
Remarkably, people saw possibility in the piles of rubble.
"It's tragic what we're going through," TK said. "But let's focus on what we can do and what we have in front of us."
Greensburg is putting itself back on the map - by trying to be the first green community in the country.
They've done everything from recycling older bricks to rebuilding with sustainable lumber.
The new community arts center, built by University of Kansas architectural students, will actually create more power than it uses.
"Green made sense," TK said. "Only way to go. We had to do it. Smartest thing we've ever done."
And not lost on any resident is the branding opportunity … built right into the town's name.