Written by Doug Wynn - Published on December 20, 2021
The weather is frightful and messy but thankfully, the tornado is now just a terrible memory. I have received so many messages from folks asking how my family and I fared. The tornado went close to a mile west of our house. We heard it after we got out of our closet hiding space. All power and phones were out but I could still text. I was getting messages from my cousin as to where the storm was. Once I knew it had passed our house but went through the north end of Benton, I got in my truck and tore out for my taxidermy studio that is one of the last businesses in the north end of Benton heading north toward Draffenville. As I got to the Clarks River bridge, I started seeing serious debris from buildings on Highway 641. I turned onto the access road in front of the line of buildings and immediately saw Lake Life Marine destroyed with boats turned over and strown everywhere. I got to my street and had to drive around a U-Haul truck that had been blown some 50 feet and turned onto its side. Seeing this, my heart sank as I fully expected my building to be gone. My biggest fear was I had lost my 16-year-old shop mascot cat, Camo. Coming around the U-Haul, I could see my building standing. I panned my headlights down two sides and the front and it was still there! I opened the door to find Camo directly inside and terrified. I got back in my truck and while talking to my friend Michael, the manager of Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge, I started to try to see how much damage his offices and a separate building had received. As I drove just north of my shop, there were two new campers laying as one on their sides. I got to the last turnaround before the “S-curve” on Highway 641 when I encountered destruction. Every tree I could see in my headlights was destroyed, most twisted off well above the ground. The emergency vehicles had now started to block the road, so I went back to comfort one scared kitty cat. Long story short, I received some steel siding damage and broken glass but after seeing the destruction all around my shop and just north of me, I felt truly blessed. My job then was to get the generator running and save my freezers. It was Saturday morning at dawn before I saw how close it had missed my shop (300 yards or so) and how so many people lost everything. We were without cell signal, internet, and TV for a few days. The power at the shop and our home came on Sunday afternoon. Being without TV and internet was a good thing. It let me focus on things I had to do instead of the terrible destruction west and northeast of Benton. My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones and material things. It also goes out to the thousands of rescue and clean-up crew members who quickly descended on our area. The work of the utility companies has been amazing. Just like with the ice storm of 2009, the good nature of folks helping those who are hurting has been shown. Every church and large building in my area are now packed with much needed clothes, personal items, you name it, that has been donated from all over the country. Regardless of what we see daily on TV and social media, there are still a lot of good, caring people in our country. God Bless Each and Every One! There is nothing to report about fishing. Many who have fished with me recently have known how much pain my right shoulder has been giving me. I finally gave in and after 20 years since my last shoulder surgery, I’m having it replaced on December 20. Dr. Morgan in Murray will be doing a total reverse replacement. I’ll be in a sling for several weeks and will be back to being the driving instructor for Vicki. She is really looking forward to that. I dread the rehab because after having four surgeries on the shoulder from a work injury since 1990, I know how bad it can be. I am looking forward to being able to get back in the boat in March and be pain free. Since I will be bound up with the sling, I won’t be presenting any seminars at the boat shows this winter. That is something I have missed badly since Covid. Being able to talk to folks who have fished with me and those who follow my reports is a special part of my job. I’m going to spend my down time reading and learning more new tricks for this coming season. I am cutting back to four days per week (Wednesday through Saturday) on my guide trips. As we get older (where did the years go?) our bodies need time to recover from long days on the lake. I know that is going to be a hardship on many who might be planning trips to Kentucky or Barkley lakes on my days off, but it is something Vicki and I have discussed for a long time. I want to wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. To those harmed in any way by the tornado, my continued prayers go out to you. Spring and new growth will be here soon.