Wichita Ice Storm, 2005

This was an all too familiar scene to Wichitan's and residents across Kansas when they awoke Wednesday morning.

As the storm developed throughout Tuesday and into the night, there was an erie sensation trying to get to sleep. I could hear the creaking limbs and the occassional crash as they came tumbling down.

Every now and then it sounded like something crashed into the house and that would get me out of bed with the flashlight trying to access the damage. Apparently what I was hearing was only ice falling from the trees onto the house. Knowing there was little I could do about it, I just tried to shut out the sounds and went to sleep.

As the morning broke Wednesday the scope of the damage began to become apparent.

In what reminded me of the destruction caused by a Kansas tornado, everywhere looked the same. In what might be the worst ice storm in history for Wichita, fallen trees and power outages occurred across the city.

Throughout the city many streets were partially blocked by fallen debris and in some cases totally blocked because of fallen powerlines.

State officials have estimated damage caused by the ice storm across Kansas at about $11 million. Estimates for damage to the city of Wichita range from $6 million to as high as $15 million.

We probably won't really know the final cost until the ice melts and Wichita begins the cleanup process.

Fortunate for me, I only experienced some down tree limbs in both my front and back yard and not some of the more extensive damage experienced by others.

More than 63,500 homes and businesses in the metropolitan area remained without electricity as night fell Thursday. More than 200 crews from 11 states have reportedly began to converge on Wichita to assist Westar Energy in restoring power.

Once you look beyond the destruction, there was an amazing beauty to be found in the natural ice sculptures everywhere you looked. In some cases the image I saw in my camera viewfinder resembled a painting more than it did a photograph.


All photographs Copyright 2005 - Vic Bilson
May not be copied or reproduced without permission