In  May,  2000, a nasty powerful tornado like stormed struck a part of the southern end of the West shore.  The weather bureau called it a micro burst.   I was working that day in town.  I came home to find a brief message on my answering machine from a  friend who lives on the pond.  He thought that I might want to check my camp , as a serious storm had hit the immediate area and left behind severe damage.   Needless to say I was upset.  I could not reach my husband or any of my family, so I left to drive to the cottage by myself. I drove as far as the top of the intersection where route #232, enters the West Shore access road.   Parked my car off to the side of the road and started walking.   Trees and power lines were down everywhere, especially across the road.   Washington Electic Co-op was already on the scene along with Woodsville Rescue Ambulance .

   My heart was in my throat.   I had never experienced anything like this .  There was destruction everywhere.  I found it hard to grasp.  There were trees uprooted and lying down in swaths throught the woods and over the road.  I carefully worked my way to my place.  The first thing I saw was Washington Electric linemen, cutting trees and working with the power lines.  There were live lines lying on the road in places, snapping, smoking  and popping.  

     After climbing over and under debris, I arrived at my cottage. I found my gazebo lying on its side,  on the lawn some 20 feet from its foundation.  It's roof destroyed on one side and the door ripped off. All the screens were torn out, and garden furniture broken and strewed about.  The picket fence that surrounds the lawn was broken and shattered,  looking as if it fell like toothpicks.  The other outbuildings were smashed and  had been picked up and thrown by the wind and smashed. 

The cottage itself,  had been moved a few inches off its cement piers. It is very hard to describe.  I was devasted.  I had been working hard at putting the place together, flower gardens were no more. Trees in the yard were uprooted and toppled, smashing everything in their path.  My boats, a sweet little wooden rowboat my husband had made me for my birthday the year before and my sailboat were totally crushed.
 The paddle boat was thrown up against a tree and wedged in between some rocks, the canoe broken in half.  The boathouse roof had a tree laying on top of it and the door was bashed in by flying tree limbs....One out building ended up in the woods, some 100 feet or so from its original place.  The woodshed  was destroyed. Windows and the doors were blown open in the cottage, everything was soaked with water.....Now where do you start ?  I started with a good cry, as that's the first rush of emotion that overcame me.....
     I then heard voices, chainsaws and a hellicopter circling overhead.  my neighbor was home and had been knocked down to the floor as the wind blew the doors open and knocked her legs out from under her.  Her back was injured.   The Dart Rescue Helicopter had been called. That was the chopper that was circling over head trying to find a landing place.  After several minutes the helicopter left, unable to land.  Meanwhile the ambulance crew got the lady out and in the ambulance and off they went, sirens blaring.   There were no known people occupying the surrounding camps.  Several places suffered damage.  Their roofs being torn off,  tree damage, as well as personal damage, boats, docks,  etc.  Some as far away as Ricker Pond.

     I could hear someone calling to me from above on the upper road...It was the Red Cross checking to see if  anyone needed  help. They offered food and drink.  After a brief chat with them I did my best to secure the place and left to go home.  

     Clean up was a nightmare.  Trees  had to be cut up and moved, a difficult task, as the area is covered with car size boulders and difficult to get equipment in to work the area and around to the front of the building. Tree roots had to be dug out by hand and it took years to remove them, and fill the gapping holes.  This storm was not classified as a tornado.  Insurance covered some of the damage. A great deal of the loss was not regained and had to be absorbed. Insurance forms were very difficult to fill out

     Aside from the financial losses, the emotional toll was great.   Now every time a strong storm hits the area,  I become a nervous wreck. .  Things have never been the same since.  It took all summer to straighten up the yard and pick up the debris.  To rebuilt and repair the buildings, took much more time that that.  One thing that stands out in my mind is how alone I felt that day. I am thankful I was not there when that storm struck.  My neighbor must have gone though some terrifying moments as the storm came through.  I admire her courage and strength. If you drive around the general area, you can still see tree damage in the forest to this day. 

     The following are some photo's taken immediately after the storm.
 trees across road.
Gazebo rolled over like a top
lineman working on sparking power lines
  more destruction
Dart rescue helicopter searching for landing area
Red Cross volunteers
picket fence down like dominos   
Ambulance leaving with injured neighbor
 more damage 
Several boats destroyed
building thrown 100 ft into woods
Roofs torn off and damaged
uprooted trees
                     ​Darlene Sprague