Contractor Gets Blown Away

June 4, 2007
/ Print / Reprints /
/ Text Size+
A pile of never-opened new equipment lies among the wreckage of Adams Electric & Plumbing LLC following the devastating Greensburg, Kan., tornado.

GREENSBURG, Kan. - On May 4, 2007, Greensburg, Kansas was hit by an EF5 tornado, estimated to be 1.7 miles wide, traveling for nearly 22 miles. The National Weather Service estimated winds of the tornado reached 205 mph. Ninety-five percent of the city was confirmed to be destroyed, with the other 5 percent severely damaged.

One of the destroyed buildings was home to Adams Electric & Plumbing LCC. The business serviced many residential and commercial HVAC customers in the Greensburg area and, according to owner Robert Blasi, lost “hundreds and hundreds of customers.”

The tragedy had a two-fold impact on the business not only because of the number of homes destroyed, but because the downtown business itself was destroyed. Fortunately none of the three employees were hurt or had their own homes destroyed. Blasi said all lived on the outskirts of Greensburg and avoided the devastation that struck the heart of the town. Sadly, one employee lost his grandmother in the tragedy.

“The first thing we had to do was pick up pieces and see where everyone was at,” said Blasi. “The amount of work that has to be done is astronomical.”

Blasi said that in spite of the damage to his business, his No. 1 concern is taking care of his loyal customers. “They are the No. 1 reason we are in business,” he said.

Keeping the residents in Greensburg will be a very key objective for all business owners, including Blasi, who owns and operates two other similar businesses in nearby communities. He said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is planning to install temporary trailers and recreational vehicles on the lots where people lost their homes. They will contract for sewer, water, and electric lines to be hooked up to the temporary homes so that when utilities are restored, the homes will be inhabitable. The tornado destroyed all of the local utilities, which will continue to keep people away until the basic necessities are restored.

The landscape along Main Street in Greenburg, where Adams Electric & Plumbing LLC once stood, was obliterated buy the deadly tornado.

“The power plant and water tower were taken down,” Blasi said. “Every utility pole was sheared off at ground level.”

The problem is, if people can return to a home life, how can they support themselves? The town’s businesses, including Blasi’s, were destroyed. He is unable to transfer his employees from Greensburg to his other locations. Luckily, the employees are helping out some of Adams’ electricians in the area, so they can still collect a paycheck.

“There are many questions we are all asking,” he said. “I don’t know if there will be any assistance available to these people through FEMA.”

The plan is to rebuild the town but Blasi said it will be costly, somewhere between $500 million and $1 billion. “For example,” added Blasi, “one of the largest John Deere dealers in the state was located in Greensburg. There were 34 brand new combines that were all lost.”

There is little to identify among the remains of local HVAC contractor, Adams Electric & Plumbing LLC following the tornado that ripped through Greensburg, Kan.

Blasi is very adamant about rebuilding his own business, despite the present location being totally flat. “We had a small office right next to the post office on Main Street,” he said. “There was a lot of foot traffic. People had to pick up their mail on foot and sometimes it would be a good idea to stop in and talk about a new furnace or air conditioner. We had a small showroom, too.

“We’d like to rebuild right back where we were.”

In the meantime, the task is to sort out what is salvageable and remove tons of debris from city streets. After that, the physical rebuilding will take place.

For now, American Red Cross volunteers and staff from across Kansas and neighboring states are providing safe shelter, food and relief services for those affected by the tornado and the flooding. Red Cross workers have set up emergency shelters in the affected Kansas counties, providing food, water and other services. To donate and get more information, visit

“This is one of those things that no one ever plans for,” said Blasi.

Publication date: 06/04/2007

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to The NEWS Magazine

Recent Articles by John Hall

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

2014 Energy Efficiency Forum

Highlights from the 25th annual Energy Efficiency Forum in Washington, D.C.


NEWSMakers: John Missell

John Missell, vice president and COO of Spectrum Design, joins the program to discuss how his company has utilized geothermal technologies, and we examine the future of renewable energy resources. Posted on Aug. 15.

More Podcasts


NEWS 08-18-14 cover

2014 August 18

Check out the weekly edition of The NEWS today!

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Prohibiting HFCs

EPA is proposing a rule that would prohibit some HFCs in select refrigeration applications. Do you agree with this move?
View Results Poll Archive


2014 National Plumbing & HVAC Estimator

Every plumbing and HVAC estimator can use the cost estimates in this practical manual!

More Products

Clear Seas Research


Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications, Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


Magazine image
Register today for complete access to Get full access to the latest features, Extra Edition, and more.


facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconLinkedIn i con