Thursday, May 14, 2009

Winter in Arkansas, circa 2000.

Now that is is warm and toasty, let's talk about winter weather. If you lived in Arkansas in the winter of 2000 I’m sure you remember the ice storms. You certainly remember if you were unlucky enough to be without electricity for days or even weeks!

You know it was cold and nasty. You know it was dangerous to leave the house. You know what happened to your family during the storms. But here is what you might not know: The Butler Center set out to document the impact of the ice storms on Arkansans by sending around a short questionnaire and collecting photographs.

One of the questions asked was “What is the first thing you did when 1) the electricity was restored and 2) you could drive on the roads?”

Here is a small sampling of what Arkansans did when their electricity was finally restored: “turned up the thermostat” (as you can imagine, this is the most popular answer), “yelled and thanked the Lord,” “scream and say a prayer,” “watched TV,” “took a shower.”

And what they did when the roads were safe enough to drive on: “went to a motel,” “went to Wal-Mart,” “went to work,” “went to the grocery store for coffee and toilet paper.”

Pulaski County, Winter 2000.

Instead of answering the questions on our survey, some of the respondents sent us a narrative of their experiences. Since you know no one can tell a story like an Arkansan, why not visit the Arkansas Studies Institute today and read some of the submissions. You might just find your own story in there somewhere.

The ice storm memories can be found in the Arkansas Small Manuscript Materials, Box 18, File 260.
Contributed by Stephanie Bayless, Manuscripts Department


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