What a ride this area has been on the last few months!
First, we wondered if we would blow away when near gale force winds created havoc, reigniting and spreading wild fires across the region. Firefighters were spread thin Jan. 29 trying to stay ahead of fires that threatened homes.
Feb. 5, 2008, is an evening no one for miles around will forget. A F4 tornado is a rarity in itself, but having one travel for 120+ miles is a history making event. It certainly changed the landscape in Ash Flat and Highland and many other areas in Arkansas.
Now it's March and we've struggled through some record setting snowfall. Some areas were hit with 9-inches of snow followed by another four to six inches of the white stuff before a week had passed.
Then the rain started. Over a two-and-a-half day period, four to 11-inches fell in Missouri and Arkansas. Highways were closed, homes and businesses were evacuated, county roads became impassable and schools were unable to hold classes.
That's a lot to be hit with, but it could have been worse.
When the high winds spread wildfires, we had some well-trained firefighters braving the bitter cold. Some people lost a few possessions, but no one lost their home or life.
The F4 tornado was devastating for a lot of people. Many in our area lost their home, all of their belongings and even the way they made their living. The destruction was unbelievable, but no one in Highland or Ash Flat was killed and that is amazing. Just look at the pictures; there had to be a lot of angels watching over the area that night. Afterwards, people came from all over to lend a hand to a neighbor in need. Out of those confusing times, a lot of life-long friendships were made. There really are a lot of good Samaritans in this world.
The snows brought a lot of things to a standstill for a day or two and created a lot of travel headaches but, it was a beautiful snow and melted almost as fast as it fell. It even gave us a chance to be a kid again, joining our children or grandchildren to build a snowman, throw a few snowballs, making and eating snow ice cream and warming up after all the fun. Lots of good family memories were made just enjoying the day. Thankfully, we didn't get several inches of ice.
Now we're dealing with floodwater. It's a mess, very costly and in some areas just as bad as the flood in 1982. Hardy, especially, was so much better prepared for this one. Mayor Nina Thornton and the city council have been working with homeowners along the Spring River to prepare for something like this. All the regulations were a little aggravating to some, but property loss would have been so much greater without them. They deserve a big "good job" for their efforts.
After saying all that, let me say this, if you are new to the Ozarks, let me assure you that 2008 is not a typical year. Our summers are always hot and humid and sometimes very dry, but our winters are usually mild. We have our share of tornado watches in the spring, but destructive tornadoes are extremely rare. So, don't pack the truck and head out of state -- the Ozarks really is a great place to live and raise a family.
Like the old-timers around here often say, "If you don't like the weather, wait a few hours and it will change. And sometimes, if we're real lucky, we even get a taste of all four seasons in a single day."
I think we've had our quota of disasters for 2008. But, there is one more thing the "experts" have been warning us about -- an earthquake on the New Madrid Fault. That's about the only natural disaster we haven't experience since Jan. 1. Guess it's time to call our insurance agents and add some quake insurance to our homeowners policy ... just in case.
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