Monday, May 18, 2009

No news is not always good news

News... I've always dreaded watching it. All the bad news, all the fluff filler stories over and over.

The other day I was talking to a friend who said she was going to give up watching the news. I can sure understand the concept.. but not watching the news could have cost me my life (and Amy's).

In 1980, I was living in Washington state. Amy had just turned 2. The guy I was dating at the time decided we should take a road trip across the state to visit some friends of his in eastern washington. We spent Friday night there then Saturday headed back for the western side of the state.

It was a beautiful day in May.. the perfect time to be in Washington. As we made our way back we decided to take a little detour and drive to Mt. St. Helen's .. my gosh it was standing up there in the sky so regally just calling to us!

As we got closer to the campground areas we noticed a lot of other people had the same idea we did.. the place was packed! We drove through a couple places that were way too full and finally found a place that we thought.. heck let's just pull over here and sleep and we will drive the rest of the way back tomorrow after we get a chance to play around a little near the recreation area.

I started to get a sleeping area set up for Amy and grabbed a bottle and some formula.. then noticed.. Darn it! that was the last bottle. So, totally bummed we realized we couldn't stay... started the car and headed the rest of the way back to my house.

We got in pretty late, fell asleep and the next day awoke... to a pitch black day. I had never seen anything like it. I stepped out my front door and the whole world was dark like the middle of the night but grey. Not just the sky.. the trees, the ground, the air.. you could not breath without breathing in ... grey! What the heck??? I rechecked the clock and we had actually slept in until like noon.. and yet it was dark.

So I turned on the radio and that is when I heard that Mt. St Helen's had erupted. I guess it had been spitting plumes of smoke and puffs of lava for a while, actually weeks , months... it was just a matter of time.. but since it had taken so long, most people thought it wouldn't happen or at least that it wouldn't happen that soon. (I would have known this had I ever watched the news.)

Where we had been parked.. was devastated.. The whole area for 236 square miles.. was destroyed. Most of the people there.. did get away.. some did not. Would we have... I don't know.
I know where I was living was at the lower end of the river run off area.. and it was horrible, and yet we were hundreds of miles away. I had to tape all the windows and door edges of the house.. because the ash was so fine that it infiltrated everywhere and with Amy's weak lungs she was in extreme danger. We had to wear face masks to leave the house.

I lasted about 1 week living like that.. then I talked my boyfriend into loading all of mine and Amy's stuff (luckily we didn't have much) and driving us to California to move to the high desert where my mom was living at the time. It was horrible trying to drive out of town.. the car started choking up.. we ended up at the auto parts store.. we had a totally ash clogged air filter.. we ended up having to replace it again as we got out of Washington.

I have tried to watch at least the local news since then. I realized it wasn't safe to live in a bubble and that some news is actually good to know.

Mt. St. Helen's erupted Sunday morning somewhere near 8am May 18, 1980.

1 comment:

SeattleDan said...

Interesting story, Dee!

I'm pretty sure the explosion woke me that Sunday morning;I got up at about 8 or so, and as I worked on Sundays in those days on a swing shift, I'd normally have slept late into the morning.

In Seattle itself, you probably would not have necessarily known the volcano had blown. We saw only a slight dusting of ash in the suburbs. However, 90 miles south in Centralia, where Tammy lived at the time, received a lot of dust. She remembers waking up that morning and thought it odd that it be snowing in May.