May 18, 1980
We'll never forget that day in May, still think about it and remember what it did to the community. I was standing in a neighbor's yard when we noticed the billowing, odd shaped gray clouds moving very quickly toward our town. Kinda made us a little suspicious that just maybe the end was near. We laughed but not for long...At 1:00 p.m. the town was in total darkness. The street lights came on and the ash kept falling. Trying to listen to the news was difficult as this was a new event in our lifetimes, and what do you tell your listeners. We listened to many warnings to stay inside, to try not to breath it, and to be patient. BE PATIENT? Our town was slowly being buried and we were supposed to be patient! and wait for what??? We were actually reluctant to go to bed as we worried about the next morning. Would it be light again, or was this an ever ending event that would keep us in total darkness. I think all of our prayers were the same that night. And, thankfully, it was daylight the next morning. The ash had quit falling and everything was still.....the birds weren't chirping, the pigs at the pig barn were huddled in their pens not moving, dogs didn't want to go outside, and cars loaded with family were slowly driving around checking the 'damage'. We remember thinking, "What now? What are we going to do to get rid of 6 "  of gray thick powder. Is it dangerous? Will it harm animals? What will it do to the crops? and our machinery...?  and what's our next step?" We watched the news and realized that Lind was not going to have the National Guard show up and help us clean up our town. If it was going to happen, we were going to do it...and we did. Everyone participated in their own way, helping others, loaning equipment, borrowing equipment, then meeting together in the evenings to share the ash stories....and there were a lot of them.  We'd basically share stories in the Wellington Tavern or Slim's Tavern. Of course, we'd have a few beers (to clean the ash out of our throats) then go on home with the same plan in mind for the following day. Get up early and begin sweeping up the mess. Well, as many of you will contest to, the ash actually couldn't be swept. It was heavy, and trying to wash it away was like trying to move cement with water. Just didn't work. We had to scoop it up on shovels and then bury it in rock pits east of town. Of course, all of this activity required strong backs, determination, and equipment. It was typical of Lind to share equipment, too. It took us two weeks to even begin to get Lind back to the way it was, and even at that it wasn't finished by a long shot. People were realizing that the heavy ash had destroyed a lot of shrubbery, trees, and equipment. So, it wasn't uncommon to seeing homeowners digging out long standing bushes. The ash, although was on the outside, managed to get into the inside of every home...another issue to contend with. The heavy fallout ruined many vacuums and equipment. Although it seems a blur, it was a job well done and by the community of Lind. Everyone had a job to do, and everyone did their job. Didn't seem to hurt any of us in the long run.....It just provided us with many memories which we will share with others forever. We all laughed about being left on a roof for hours because someone borrowed the ladder, or finally getting the roof cleaned off and realizing that the shrubs and flowers were once again buried in the stuff. We figured that our water bills were going to be outrageous and knowing, finally, that the water did nothing to help the process other than make it heavier and more unmanageable. We found out that kids were willing to help and did so without being asked, or paid! It was actually a bad time in Lind with good memories.

In 1982, it was only two years since Mt. St. Helens left her gray calling card and buried the Town of Lind in tons of ash. Most of it had been removed, at least the top layer, but signs of it remained on the sides of the roads and in flower beds, under shrubs, under rocks, and just about every place. It menacingly loomed behind cars and trucks on all country roads. (Even today, Adams County winds manage to leave reminders of the ash fallout throughout our homes.) The local Tredecim Club, a woman's community organization, voted to have welcome signs place at both Lind entrances on highway 395. They sponsored a contest to "design the welcome sign", and Tredecim member, Geri Webster, presented her plan and won the contest. McBee Signs in Moses Lake painted them and with the help of the Lind Lions Club, the signs were placed on Highway 395. They immediately drew the attention of many travelers, and specifically some college students from a nearby University. After a long weekend, (probably studying) the students decided that the signs would make an adequate table in their apartment at school. (Again, probably a study table!) However, they were soon persuaded to return the signs to their rightful owners, and within a couple of weeks, the signs were reassembled and reattached to the bracing poles....good as new! Just recently, new signs were made and erected on highway 395, and not mentioning Mt. St. Helens. After all, most of the young citizens weren't even born when the mountain erupted....so the signs had to be updated...Out with the old and in with the new! However, those of us who experienced the fall-out experience are thankful that no one was hurt in the entire event or during cleanup. Oh most had sore muscles from sweeping the ash, tearing out shrubs, digging holes to bury the stuff, etc.  But,  after weeks of cleaning, we pretty much went back to our normal lives. Did we get rid of the ash? Heck no! To this day (2015) we often find remnants of it under shrubs and in ditches, etc. It's just always gonna be there as a reminder to us...to never forget when the majestic mountain 'blew her mind' and showered us in her anger. One community member was asked, "What would you do if it happened again?"  Without hesitation he said, "Well, I'd clean my roof BEFORE I cleaned my yard."
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Carol Kelly, Webmaster
Page updated July, 2015