May 18, 1980
May 18, 1980



These photos (taken May 18, 1980 about 12:00 p.m. show the billowing clouds which many described as beautiful. However, this was before they unloaded on us, dumping a gray disgusting ash on our entire town.

It was 1:00 P.M. and as the city's street lights were coming on, we were beginning to show concern. The ash was falling all around us, covering everything in gray. Most of us gathered our family and went home to listen for news and explanation. We turned on the TV and radio, listened, wondered, worried. What is happening? Is the ash dangerous? When will it stop falling? And most asked question, "Will it still be dark in the morning?"
(and in the meantime, our daughter's cat was delivering kittens in a drawer in her room!)

It was in the morning, May 18, 1980, that an eruption, in the south western part of the the state, would release an immense landslide of superheated gas and rock, with a fifteen-mile high plume of ash. Did we even know about it, or were we concerned after we did hear about it, and did we even think that it could affect our town? No! Although some said later that they heard the blast, most of us were not even aware of the impact the explosion would have on Lind and we just surmised that life would go on as usual. Not so! I was standing in my neighbor's yard and we briefly talked about the billowing clouds that appeared to be coming our way. They sure didn't resemble the dust clouds or rain clouds that we were used to, but in all reality, they caused us no real concern. I do remember, however, that we half-way joked that just maybe the end was near. In the meantime, we were not aware what had happened now did we realized the eruption would cause the death of 57 people, destroy two hundred and fifty homes, and spread fury across many states
. And like all small towns, word quickly spread. We later learned that the eruption was considered the most destructive volcanic event in U. S. history. .

On May 19, everyone wandered around evaluating the situation. I remember the birds, perched on their branches and not making a sound. A trip to the FFA barns was a different story. With a lot of FFA pigs, it would seem they'd be confused too. However, they loved the ash and were running around, sliding & playing in the gray ash. The rest of the town was totally quiet. Many were driving around trying to assess the damage, and a few decided to start the clean-up. Washing off the side walks seems to be the common goal, then removing the heavy ash from the shrubs was next. Found out very quickly that the 'stuff' didn't wash away like dirt from a dust storm. It was heavy and just got heavier with the added water. It was going to be a monumental job for the little town. And so it began.

Farmers started bringing in equipment and the the community went to work. Kids volunteered to sweep (scoop) off roofs, and help clean up yards. And every day seemed the same. The town's community members were all doing the same thing. Trying to clean yards and streets was tough enough, but then where do you put the stuff? It was scooped to the center of the streets, and then hauled to rock pits east of town where it would eventually be buried. Every evening, many met down town at the Golden Grain Cafe or one of the taverns to have a cold beer and discuss their day. Even after the long and tiring days, everyone had a story to tell. Lots of stories were passed around for the next few weeks. And through it all, we still had a sense of humor and saw some kind of a light at the 'end of our tunnel.' Other than a few sore muscles and unsolvable issues, the town didn't fold under the pressure, nor did they whine when they realized that the National Guard would be in Lind ONLY to clean the ash off the schools.Events were canceled, & school was dismissed for the rest of the year. The rodeo was canceled, Lions Club was dismissed for the summer, Tredecim Club quit meeting, and the community concentrated on their property and the town. Did they ever get done? No, not really, but they worked hand in hand enough to be able to carry on each day. Seems there were good things, too. No one was hurt or injured in the fallout. The wheat crops were excellent that summer, and everyone learned basically the same lesson. The logical question of the day after clean-up was, "What would you do differently if it happened again?" And the basic answer, "I'd clean off my roof before I cleaned my yard.".