THE GREAT ICE STORM OF 2003 - "In the Midst Of The Ugly, There Is Beauty And Purpose"

"The Ice Storm" struck the region in February 2003, it downed trees and disrupted the Calhoun forest.

The ice storm is likely one of the most significant weather events to strike the region in a century.

By Bob Weaver Feb. 2003

The cracking and falling of trees, sometimes like a gunshot, was unnerving for nearly three days, unable to ignore the echoing sound from the woods around our little place in the Village of Hur.

Trapped by fallen trees on both sides of the house, there was no escape, reduced to our tiny spot on the map, gas lights lit, water drawn from the cistern, and heat from the gas stoves. No electric and no phone for most of ten days, and no Hur Herald to do.

The absence of the phone was missed more than the lights and appliances, we concluded.

Our son Jon had returned from his job near DC just before the storm, and we were so grateful to have him here, along with some of his friends who stayed the nights and enjoyed Dianne's wonderful meals, which never slowed down.

Homemade biscuits, roast pork and vegetables, split pea soup, pickled corn, chili, and those great breakfasts of pancakes, bacon and coffee perked on the stove.

Actually, we ate the entire chest freezer that was filled with food, the contents slowly thawing without electric. We put some of it in chests and placed it on the porch.

They pulled the board games from the closet and huddled around the kitchen table playing Scrabble and Monopoly. We took some afternoon naps.

There was music from our crank and sun-powered radio. WVRC in Spencer was off the air during most of the crisis, but we listened to music, mostly old tunes from the 60's and 70's. We stayed in touch with our faithful 911 servants on a battery operated scanner, listening to their struggles, near escapes and harrowing adventures.

Our dogs Sox and Sparky were frightened by the falling trees and we allowed them to share our quarters, sometimes reclining before the fireplace with Yoda, Addie Lea and our other cats. The hardy winter birds flocked by the dozens around the feeder in dawn's light.

Rick Fitzwater and his boys, Kevin Rose and the neighbors came by with their chain saws, and the crew from the Grantsville fire department, cleared the roadway. We could hear the buzz of saws down on Rowels Run, likely operated by the Carpenters', the Millers' and the Sturms'. Thank God for wonderful neighbors.

On the third day we hitched a ride on a four-wheel drive truck and rode to Grantsville, which still had electric power. We updated the Herald through Norma Knotts Shaffer's puter, to let the readers know what caused the publication to fade from existence.

Against advice, on the fifth day we cranked up an old generator that hadn't been started for years, and powered-up the computer, doing updates on the ice storm.

The days went slowly, requiring a conscious awareness of life's small events and the mighty transgression of Mother Nature on our landscape.

There was sadness when the top fell from the sixty foot pine in our front yard, planted by my mother many years ago after it was used as a Christmas tree.

Other trees fell, those planted when Dianne and I married thirty years ago, and some of our mighty oaks went down.

As the days went by I rejoiced having lived in these mountains and among the trees, holding reverent that what stands before us. Always able to find objects of interest in things that might seem trifling and unworthy to less devoted hearts.

We returned briefly to live in the pines twenty-five years ago, those slender trees now mostly fallen. It was in one of our darkest times we lived there that led to a spiritual experience, a greater awareness of God. We spent days visiting the tiny streams, mossy rocks and foliage of our acreage, a slowing down of the spirit where not even a blade of grass seemed unnoticed.

I'm sure this life we live in the backwoods of West Virginia is not very striking to most. The fashionable and driven would find it tedious. Despite the hardships, the earliest of our families found it to be home, much like hardy folks who have survived this storm with grace and will go on with their lives.

In the midst of the ugly, there is still beauty and purpose.

It is the way, around these parts.

Ice Covering Calhoun At Midnight

Major Ice Storms Hit Region

It Was A Big Hit By Mother Nature