I remember very vividly where I was on 9/11, the
day John Kennedy was killed and the day Elvis died. Now I can add my
clear memories of the night of June 29,2012 when the wind called
Derecho passed through Alderson.
The Derecho was the wind that came through West Virginia and created
havoc and discomfort on the night of June 30,2012. Till the end of
time people will argue about whether the severe winds of that day
lasted 10 minutes or two hours.
At one time more than 500,000 people in West Virginia were without
electricity. Huge electric transmission support towers were twisted
and turned like you would twist aluminum foil in your hand.
Substation and transformers were chewed up and spit out like Red man
chewing tobacco. Miles of electric poles on rural circuits were
uprooted or shattered. It was truly West Virginia’s equivalent to a
hurricane. We had always assumed that the mountains would protect
us from severe wind damage. But the not to be denied Derecho seemed
to go down the mountain, up the mountain and on and on without
losing its fury and speed.
Every bit of property damage and loss of life in a disaster is a
tragedy. But the blessing of this particular storm is that with all
of the devastation to trees and the electric power infrastructure
that it didn't cause more property damage and loss of life than it
did. In this case the fact that West Virginia has many more trees
than people or buildings was probably a blessing.
On that night I was at the Maple Avenue home of Jim Rowe in Alderson.
Dr. Bruiser Bland of Danville Kentucky was also there as was Pat
Rowe, Jim's wife. Delmore Highlander was there earlier. But the
incessant arguing had probably made his head hurt and he was not
around when the storm hit.
Well at the beginning of the storm the lights begin to flicker and
my first reaction was that the window air conditioner was
overloading. But it became clear real quickly that it was more of a
storm than we had seen around these parts. Jim and Bruiser headed
outside almost into the eye of the storm. Challenging the wind like
Captain Ahab in Moby Dick. Pat and I hunkered down.
After the wind subsided the folks from up and down the street begin
to congregate around Jim Rowe to assess the storm damage and find
out what he might have to say. I am convinced if they parachuted Jim
Rowe down into the heart of China that after a couple of days more
Chinese would be running around saying "Jim Rowe" than would be
saying "Wal-Mart". He is something.
I navigated my way on a two-hour journey to my daughter’s house at
Blue Sulphur Springs. I drove in a serpentine fashion to avoid the
fallen trees much like Peter Falk in the movie the "In-laws" when he
was avoiding gunfire. The next day everything was closed. No lights,
no gasoline, no stores. The devastation looked like the backdrop to
and had the aura of a scene from the Mad Max movie
Some of us older folks remember the Frankie Laine song "They called
the wind Mariah". The song of that day would be “They called the