Sunday was a testament to the power of the Wyoming wind and the resilience of the people who cope with it.
Wind gusts as high as 84 mph pummeled the region, turning clear roads into impassable routes and depositing up to feet of snow. The resulting drifts left people trapped in their cars for hours, awaiting rescue.
My family and I experienced the gusts driving north from Meeteetse on WYO 120 S, on our way back from Douglas, trying to navigate through drifts and thankful we were traveling in a heavy Ford F-250.
While fortunate to be in such a vehicle, we saw smaller cars buffeted around, one having slid off the road ahead of us. But this is Wyoming, so the car was already being towed back onto the road.
Throughout that day and late into the night, people were working to rescue those stuck in drifts or involved in wrecks after sliding off the road.
WYDOT plows worked through the night in a pernicious battle against snow drifts.
Park County Engineer Brian Edwards posted on Facebook that his crews were trying but losing a battle against drifts Sunday night on the South Fork. So they kept on working.
Tow companies were out in full force. Eagle Recovery co-owner Carisa Wood, when asked how busy they were, responded with one word, “Extremely.”
This is Wyoming and we know wind. We also know compassion and the willingness to help.
This is why my family is determined never to leave this great state. It’s a state of great natural beauty and occasionally scary reminders of what nature offers, but that is also what so often brings out the best in people.
It reminds of my dad, who grew up in Casper and occasionally made my siblings and me mad because he never failed to stop when someone on the side of the road needed help. At the time we would be frustrated at being late to lunch, but I now understand.
My dad was doing what so many people were doing Sunday. They were stepping up to help someone, not stopping to worry about being late or concered that they, too, might get stuck.
So, while I wasn’t able to help yesterday besides highlighting the hard work of many people, I did make it down to Douglas to help my dad plow his driveway.
There’s something about this state and its people, and after what I saw Sunday, I’m even happier to be a part of it.
So let me just say thanks to all those who helped out, whether you were getting paid or not. The plow drivers worked long hours to keep the roads cleared. The tow company crews put themselves in often precarious positions to get others out of ever-growing drifts. Law enforcement responded to numerous incidents, while firefighters and EMTs rushed to the scenes of accidents.
Nobody said living in Wyoming was easy, but that’s what we pride ourselves on -- being able to thrive in these conditions.
And, while we often say we can handle a situation ourselves, we show time and time again how willing we are to lend a hand.