The most spectacular snowfall of the season spread a fairy tale scene over our hills, and then turned vicious.
In the beginning, it was a masterpiece of loveliness, a breathtaking vista unequalled this winter. Each twig and weed was covered with a filigree of lace so delicate and pristine that it seemed unreal. The evergreens were clothed in gowns of silvery white, while the leafless tree limbs were draped in garments of gossamer. The hills were beautiful from every angle.
The beauty began to fade, however, when the snowstorm bared its teeth and turned ugly. In some places, snow piled higher and higher, and other areas suffered an ice storm that held them in a frigid deadlock. Electric power was disrupted as the heavy ice brought down tree after tree, tearing down power lines and leaving a trail of darkness.
Thousands of families were left without power, water and telephone service. Traffic crawled, and in some places came to a standstill. Families were isolated without power, heat and telephone service. The storm was not only frightening, but also deadly.
To compound the disastrous situation, major flooding then became a factor as added rains and melting snow ran into our streams and rivers. The snowfall that began with such loveliness had turned into a raging beast. We were spared the heart-breaking situations that many others face. All we got was lots of rain, which raised the creek until it flowed out of its bank in one place. We had no snow or ice, and the power stayed on as well as the telephone service.
Flooding has never been a concern in this area, but I remember one flash flood that our daughter Patty was caught in, and the memory terrifies me to this day. It was several years ago, when her three children were small. On a warm early summer day, they made a trip up Big Laurel Creek, to picnic and swim. She took her sister-in-law Phyl and her three little ones, and Kevin’s two children, Abigail and Josh. Patty also had her pet raccoon, Bandit. It was a pick-up truckload.
They ate and swam, and then it began raining. They ran back to the truck, to find that there was a flat tire. It was raining hard by then, and the creek was beginning to rise and turn muddy. There were seven creek crossings before they got to the mouth of Big Laurel, where it empties into Elk River.
Pat and Phyl hurried along, carrying the little ones and dragging the others. Bandit had a tight hold on Patty. Suddenly a wall of water came down the creek, raising the level waist high on the girls. Patty had to carry the children through the muddy water from bank to bank, while Phyl guarded the rest. She would take one of the older ones across first, so they could watch the others as she ferried them over. They were all terrified and crying, while Bandit climbed higher and higher until he was perched on Pat’s head.
The last crossing was a bridge, which was covered over with muddy water until the handrail could barely be seen. The water then was far above her waist, and she somehow managed to get every child across to safety, including Bandit. Then she sat down and cried.
They started walking down the river road, two wet and bedraggled mothers, eight bedraggled children, and one bedraggled raccoon. An angel in disguise came along (his name was Eddie Mullins) and he insisted on turning his car over to the sorry bunch to drive on home. He later took Pat’s husband Randy back up Laurel to rescue the truck.
As Patty was recalling that horrifying time, she shivered. She related, “If I had stumbled and fallen with one of those kids, we never would have rescued them in that muddy water. It was a miracle that we all got out of there alive.”
I remember how Daddy used to pray and thank God that He had protected us through danger “seen and unseen.” That was a danger that crept upon them without warning, yet God’s protecting hand surely was upon them.
Many people here in this state are battling the ravages of flooding, and the destruction that follows. They surely need our prayers and support in any way that we can. We who have been spared such devastation and heartache need to be extra thankful that the Lord has watched over us.
This has been a rough winter, and the forecast is calling for more rain this weekend. Storm clouds loom over us and war clouds are threatening. We need God’s help and protection now more than ever. It is high time for the people of America to turn back to the Lord, and pray earnestly for His help.
Cousin Alyce Faye