As if my previous post signaled a crisis to come, an ice storm hit northwest Arkansas Tuesday. All afternoon Monday and into the night the freezing rain fell, challenging the best in everyone. Our son-in-law took his chainsaw to the road that runs past our houses to clear away a tree that had fallen to block the entire road. A neighbor came along, hopped out to help. Yet another had his chainsaw and pitched in, all three disregarding the pouring rain to clear the road. More trees fell and they kept at it until they couldn’t see any more. Temperatures plummeted and everything was soon covered with a thick coating of ice.
In Fayetteville, trees crashed down, blocking streets. In the county highways and roads soon became impassable. Into the night we huddled in our homes, fearing the worst. Soon the entire northern part of the state went dark and cold. We were left to rely on our survival abilities.
All night long, as we lay in bed, we could hear the trees falling in the surrounding forest. It was as if some angry giant raged through pushing them over. We are backed into the Ozark National Forest. In our yard a 100 year old maple split and half went down. Part of a big wild cherry tree also fell, none on our house. The miracle of this is that one of our maples died this summer and we hadn’t gotten around to cutting it down. If it fell it would fall on the house. But it stood firmly, like a guardian sentinel.
We’ve always kept several gallons of water because we have our own well system, but we never supposed we would need much more than that as electric poles through the mountains crashed down. It’s now been almost a week without water, though our power came back on sooner than most. Because of our locale we are serviced by an out of state electric company. Their lines follow the main highway and don’t head off through the rugged wilderness like the rural electric company which powers our water system.
Because Fayetteville is nestled within seven tree-covered hills, residents there suffered the worst. A friend lost all the trees in her yard, all old and beautiful. All streets were closed for several days, some remain so today. Some of Fayetteville remains without power as well.
On campus at the University of Arkansas, century old trees lie on the ground, shattered like the ice crystals they had become. When this is over, the cleanup done, the lovely town we’ve always known will be nearly bare of large trees. The county suffered a lot of trees down too, but we are mostly trees to begin with, so the damage isn’t so visible.
It only took a small redbud tree to rip the electric wire and stand from our house as well as the phone line, though we never lost phone service. Somehow it held to the box and now lies across the yard littered with trees, now cut into firewood length and branches.
When Mother Nature goes on a rampage, she doesn’t miss a trick. Such a storm is a reminder of how frail and helpless we humans really are. But we’ll hang on and survive. It is the worst ice storm in recorded history in our area, which has been declared a disaster area by President Obama. Our hearts go out to the people in Kentucky who are suffering even more than we are. And we send them our prayers for an eventual recovery.
Meanwhile, on the writing front, I filled my Alpha Smart, which holds eight files of approximately 20 pages each, then brought out the legal pads and pens. Working on two books means I don’t stop writing for much of anything. My husband took pity on me and told me to use his computer.
By my birthday on Sunday, we had electricity so the planned party went on. It seemed like more of a celebration of life. My kids and grandkids gave me a flip video camera, which nearly bowled me over. They knew I’d been wanting one, but didn’t want anyone to spend that much money on me with things so tough right now. Well, they went together and bought one anyway. I’m learning to use it, but won’t get serious until I get my laptop back, which is still a prisoner at the repair shop in Fayetteville. I’m hoping to have it back by Thursday when we go in for our weekly writer’s critique group meeting. Perhaps by then I’ll find a place to shower and wash my hair.
Maybe in a week or two I’ll be able to post videos on line and I hope to make a book trailer too.