Even for a writer, it’s difficult to express some feelings. As we took our first tour of Fayetteville following the dreadful ice storm, all I could do was swallow lumps and hold back tears. Every street had been cleared of downed trees, but along the curbs lie ten to twelve foot high piles of limbs cut to requested lengths for pick-up. Where the streets climb and coil up hills, twisted trees lie in ruins on both sides. I felt as if we’d driven into one of those apocalyptic movies after the attack that destroyed the world.
In the countryside, every road is lined with fallen and broken trees, their stripped trunks reaching into the sky. Stricken trees reach toward the road, tops trimmed back to allow passage.
Seeing these, I’m reminded of all the people who picked up their chainsaws, loaded into their trucks and went throughout their neighborhood clearing roads. These volunteers weren’t paid by FEMA or the county or the state. They simply took it upon themselves to do their part. Others went to the homes of the elderly and cleaned up their yards, checking to see if they needed anything.
In Washington County the Boston Mountain Volunteer Fire Department carried MRE meals and bottled water to those of us whose water had been cut off due to the rural power outage. Ours lasted for two weeks, other three. These men and women also served one hot meal a day at the fire station for those who had no way to cook.
Some of the power lines of the rural Ozarks Electric were run through these mountains using wagons and mules and today there are no roads to them. Roads had to be bulldozed out before the repair men could even reach the downed lines and haul in replacement poles. Hundreds were felled as if some giant hand came along and swiped them down in anger. It’s hard to say how long it will be before this part of Arkansas completely recovers. Some of the century-old trees will not be replaced in the lifetimes of those who survived the worst ice storm Arkansas has ever seen. The sky is missing the reach of tall oak and sycamore, walnut and hickory, maple and dogwood.
Even the most prolific writer cannot describe what it feels like to view this destruction.