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The Road to Recovery

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The power to persevere

By Amy Wilson,

Taken out of the Bluegrass, heading west, the Wendell H. Ford Western Kentucky Parkway breaks it to you gently about just how bad it still is out there. First, the broken trees and limb debris with which our own region is familiar. Seemingly endless.

But drive on; it gets worse.

If viewed only from the highway, worse means the sheer number of crippled trees, the volume of downed detritus and the depth of nature’s wound.

The scope of the ice storm of 2009 — even this past Wednesday, a full two weeks after the cold rain seemingly coated the world in glass — is hard to fathom until you’ve driven the parkway. The meaning of it is even harder to understand until you’ve gotten off the parkway.

Five men, all alone at their individual tables at the Leitchfield Dairy Queen, look tired, and it’s not yet lunch. Larry Jones had come to town for some gasoline. Preston Greenwood for some groceries. Richard Hogan for some biscuits and gravy. They heard about the wind that was coming. That would mean more trees coming down in Grayson County.

Greenwood says his once-wooded 50 acres and his shaded house and barn already look as if someone “butchered it” while they were “logging it out.” And who even wants his wood? Oh, sure, they’ll take his wounded hickory and oak to burn, but nobody wants what’s left of his poplar and sycamores.

He’s managing. But he’s not ready to give up his generator yet. It’s sitting in the back of his truck. The wind is coming, he says again, like a man who has news to impart and like a zealot who has no choice but to impart it.

Please don’t worry about him. You know who you really ought to worry about? Those people out by Nolin Lake. Out Ky. 728, to Bee Spring, out past the dam.

Out past the dam

It’s worth noting that two large signs in the fields alongside Ky. 728, both enumerating the Ten Commandments, are standing. The telephone poles, meanwhile, are all brand new.

Nearer the lake, the fate of a million trees is in doubt. So, too, the coming summer. At weekend houses and camp trailers, emergency workers have placed green tape on doors, indicating that they’ve checked inside and all is well or no one is home.

Someone is home at the Hornback home. Here, Marshall Hornback’s inventory for his part-time job of working on mowers and air conditioners is getting soaked by the first squall line of the promised storm. Inside an open tin shack, the lunchtime chicken and sweet potatoes are on the grill. The Hornbacks are still without power, two weeks after the first limb fell.

“It don’t bother us a bit,” says Marshall, 53, who is tending the food. “We’re having a blast. I play the guitar at night. We sing gospel and tell stories.”

By “we,” Marshall is talking about himself and his wife, Faye, and the neighbor lady, Judy Dombrowski, who tried to weather the storm by herself but was lured over by the Hornbacks sometime on the second day when Faye’s own abode’s temperature registered in the 30s.

No one could be happier about the change of venue.

“For a little while, it was a Wendell Berry world,” Faye says, glowing. Which is indeed something in itself because Judy is a pale woman with chemical sensitivities and the Hornbacks are smokers who, even though it was their house, have gone outside to smoke in the ice and snow since Judy came to live with them. She got power this very Wednesday morning and found herself “sad” about that. Then the news of the impending bad wind storm convinced her that another few hours with the Hornbacks wouldn’t be such an imposition.

Marshall cannot help but believe that whatever God wills upon us, we must endure gladly. Or perish. That we have not is God’s doing. That he might be warning us could also be what the burden of the last two weeks has been about. Marshall’s only hope is that squirrels and birds find refuge in what trees were left behind because nobody wants the bugs that will follow if they don’t.

Marshall is a grateful man. He now has, he says, a better view of the night sky, the lake, and the city lights beyond, now that God has helped prune the trees.

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3 Responses to “The Road to Recovery”
  1. John says:

    Its like David Fincher decided to make a human interest piece and not in a good way.

  2. Greg Barnette says:

    Great Video guys

  3. Mike Osborne says:

    Good video. But I wish that you would have continued west to the Eddyville area.
    You would have seen the worst of the storm.
    You would have also seen a fantastic group of people working together to get the area back up and running.
    Local people and work crews from all over the country did whatever needed to be done to normalize the the bad situation. Perfect strangers worked arm in arm to make sure that everyone was safe and out of danger.
    Thanks to EVERYONE That helped.
    Mike Osborne
    20 Falcon Dr.
    Eddyville, Ky. 42038

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