Amissville column for Nov. 1

Sandy leaves Amissville in the dark

For days, weather radar had shown the giant storm sidling inexorably northwestward, looking like a giant amoeba out to devour the Eastern Seaboard. Hurricane Sandy was going to be a dandy, and Amissville, along with most of the East Coast, was going to take a hit.

The storm arrived as advertised, with the rain on Sunday evening becoming heavier on Monday and the winds increasing with the passing hours. Seven firefighters and EMTs were ready at the Amissville Volunteer Fire Department (AVFD) for the expected storm-related emergency calls, and they did not have to wait long. Just before the winds began to howl, they responded to a single-vehicle auto accident on U.S. 211, when a driver went off the road between Battle Mountain and Seven Ponds roads. Fortunately, the driver was not injured. Later in the evening, they responded to three calls, two for power lines down and one for a tree that had fallen into a house; all were in neighboring Culpeper County. Tuesday morning brought a string of medical calls.

Mayhugh’s Store shut down by 5 p.m. to allow employees to get home safely. About three hours later, much of Amissville lost electrical power. Many times, power outages in Amissville are defined by U.S.  211, which also divides the service area of two utility companies. This time, it was an equal-opportunity blackout, with both sides of the highway affected. At press time Tuesday, both Mayhugh’s and Hackley’s stores remained closed and the low drone of generators could be heard on many back roads.

The employees at the Amissville Post Office demonstrated the postal service’s can-do attitude. The mail was delivered to homes at the normal time, and patrons could make cash purchases through the side blue door in the dark and rather nippy facility.

While life is returning to normal in much of Amissville, the continued lack of landline telephone service poses a challenge for the first responders at the AVFD. They worry that citizens without cell phones, or with no cell phone service, will not be able to report an emergency. While utility trucks were already in the area making repairs, Hurricane Sandy was not quite done with us yet.

Recent death of Bill Ryan

William “Bill” Ryan, a diplomat and businessman who retired to Amissville in 1989, passed away last week. While retired from the business world, he became an important contributor to life in Rappahannock County. Among his other activities, he was an active parishioner at Saint Peter Catholic Church in Washington, and taught religious education to high schoolers there. He was also a board member and benefactor of the Child Care and Learning Center.

Bill was also the inspiration for the annual “Renaissance in Rappahannock” gala supporting Chelsea Academy in Front Royal. The fifth gala was held this past Saturday (Oct. 27), at the Sperryville Schoolhouse. Bill wrote the original play, “The Books of Thomas More,” as well as two other plays about More’s last days, all of which were performed at the Renaissance gala. Bill will be greatly missed by his family and friends in the county.