Remembering the Eruption of Mount St Helens 40 Years Later

“I will never forget where I was the day Mount St Helens blew.” Robert E. “Bob” Roe

Remembering the Eruption of Mount St Helens 40 Years Later

By Bob Roe

The fortieth anniversary  of the Mount Saint Helen’s volcanic eruption recently  passed,  On May 18, 1980, I was with my cousin Randy Cross and my girlfriend Becky. We were out in a boat fishing on Lake Ozette, a lake on the Olympic Peninsula near Forks Washington.

It was a Sunday morning; the sky was  blue without any clouds and the fishing was good.

Suddenly we heard boom! Boom! Boom and the fish stopped biting. We wondered why loggers were dynamiting on a Sunday morning, we stopped fishing, reeled in our lines, and motored the boat back to the marina.  When we got inside the marina, we asked one of the clerks who was dynamiting on a Sunday morning. That’s when we learned that the sound, we heard was Mount St Helens blowing its top more than two hundred and fifty miles away.

A television was on in the marina and we saw the destruction caused by the volcano and we were concerned for the hikers and those living in the path of the lava flow.

We loaded our boat onto our boat trailer and headed for home. When we the reached the crest of a hill we could see the ash plume from the volcano rising in the distance.

We later heard of the devastation caused by the volcano, due to lava flow, flooding of the rivers from the snow melt and loss of life.

I remember clearly what I was doing when Mount St. Helens blew. Do you remember what you were doing on the morning of May 18, 1980?

Facts of Mount St. Helens is most notorious for its major eruption on May 18, 1980, the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in US history. 57 people were killed; 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles (24 km) of railways, and 185 miles (298 km) of highway were destroyed.

Postscript of other family remembrances:

Lucy “Gerry” Roe, aunt remembers she was at work at McKenzie-Willamette Hospital in the ICU department.  Suddenly a co-worker rushed through the double doors and yelled “Mt St. Helens just erupted.  Gerry’s son (Jeremy) was in Warrenton, Oregon with her sister (Nannie) and brother-in-law (Lee). They were visiting their youngest brother (Alan) and his family.  She called to check on them knowing they were coming back to Springfield later in the day.  She was told they were on their way home via to the coast route due to the sky filled with heavy ash and the sun and blue sky blotted out.  She reported it was a harried few hour until they were safely home.  Her son Jeremy, age 9 remembers it was a Sunday morning and he thought he was getting ready for church.  Alan remembers Nan and Lee being with him but not Jeremy.  He said the sky darken and remembers seeing Lee drive off.  Lee told Gerry when they arrived home how difficult it was driving home with the heavy ash in the air.

JoAnn Self Roe recalls that she was in Yakima Washington when Mount St, Helen’s blew. She recalled that the sky turned black in an instant.  It was very unsettling.

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