(CBS) GREENSBURG, Kan. While Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and the Bush administration jaw back-and-forth over the relief efforts for Greensburg, Kan., the town devastated by Friday night's F-5 tornado, town residents have chimed in and say they couldn't be any happier with the response from the government and other rescue units.
"The poor response thing is just political BS," Greensburg resident Mike Swigart, 47, who lost his house and four vehicles from the storm, told wcbstv.com in an exclusive interview. "I saw her on television and I'm disappointed in that because she doesn't know what she's talking about."
On Monday, Sebelius criticized the government’s response for relief.
"I don't think there is any question if you are missing trucks, Humvees and helicopters that the response is going to be slower. The real victims here will be the residents of Greensburg, because the recovery will be at a slower pace."
Sebelius said that with other states facing similar limitations, "stuff that we would have borrowed is gone."
Swigart's voice was soft and raspy on Wednesday, likely from the dust and mold that filled the rubble and remains of what was once his house of more than a decade. He recalled the intensity of the storm and the fear that took over his family as he, his wife, and his two sons, ages 10 and 13, huddled tightly inside a tiny five-by-five bathroom in his basement on Friday night.
"I thought we were goners. I really thought we were going to be gone," he said. "I was just totally surprised by the intensity of it especially, and I really thought we were done for. I just kept holding onto everybody and as it got louder, we prayed harder and louder and I gotta say I think it helped."
After the storm dissipated, Swigart and his family came up to find just a small portion of the structure of their house remaining. Their cars were destroyed. People were crawling from a semi-truck that rolled onto his lawn. But Swigart said there was an almost immediate response from other towns, people who had lined up to try and provide rescue efforts. He said Sebelius' comment about the lack of Humvees was unfounded.
"You may have seen her on television when she said that, and she talked about Hummers, that we needed Hummers. There were Hummers sitting in front of my house every day. The National Guard was there," he said. "I saw people from all over who came right away to help and nobody sent them, they just came because they knew it was going to be big. The response was excellent, the rescue efforts were all night long, and I even made a comment to my wife later that night when we came back into our basement that I can't imagine anyone saying we had a poor response to this tragedy, that it was so quick and it was amazing."
Swigart says the general feeling around the town is that residents were overwhelmed by the immediate response, and that the governor's fuss was for her own good. White House press secretary Tony Snow responded to Sebelius by saying that there was no request by Kansas officials for extra equipment, and that if there is anyone to blame, it's her.
"I was told she wanted to run as vice president on the Democratic ticket, and honestly, I wouldn't vote for her if they paid me because of that one thing she said on television right there. It was a political slam is all it was," he said. "It was a political statement and as far as the military thing overseas, I support what they're doing over there, and the military that came here is doing a great job too."
Hat Tip To: Albanys Insanity