Kyle Troutman: The ides of May

The saying goes, “Beware the Ides of March,” but fore the last two years, it has been the “Ides of May” bringing the bad to Barry County.

At this time last year, we as a community were dealing with a lot, most significantly the disappearance and death of Dr. John Forsyth, Mercy Cassville emergency room physician, and the tragic loss of 19-year-old Rylan Wilson and 14-year-old Easton Fare in a motorcycle wreck. The postmaster’s death, the alleged murder of Andey Hunter and a 7-inmate jailbreak added to the dark cloud over the community Fast forward 365 days and another kind of dark cloud has led to a situation affecting virtually everyone in the city of Cassville.

On Sunday in the early morning hours, a segment of a thunderstorm producing tornadoes in Rogers, Ark., moved through Barry County at an incredible 65 miles per hour. The golf ball-size hail and wind gusts of 80-85 miles per hour caused damage in Cassville longtime Barry County residents have said they have never seen before.

In my neighborhood by the high school, nearly every property had at least one tree down. In Sherwood Forest, the majority of homes had trees on their homes.

My friends, Charlea and Isaac Estes-Jones, had three trees fall into their home, one of which broke through the roof and laid to rest in a hallway, and another fell above one of their children’s bedrooms, fortunately not breaking through the roof there.

Morgan Williams, Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce director, had a tree go through her house, which hit right where she was standing, according to her account.

These are only two instances I know personally, but I know there are many, many more families who are dealing with damage or have been temporarily displaced from their homes because of it.

Personally, our house fared well in comparison. We lost one of our two front yard trees, but feel incredibly fortunate it fell in the road and not on our house — on top of our 2-year-old’s bedroom.

At the Cassville Democrat office, we were not as fortunate. Heavy winds and hail opened up multiple holes in our roof, and while gathering photos of damage Sunday morning, I stopped by to find a ceiling mostly on the floor and carpet so waterlogged it sloshed as I walked through it.

Across Cassville, Exeter, the Shell Knob area and the Eagle Rock area, the damages are significant and will take weeks, if not months, to get set straight.

Fortunately, Barry County is filled with the types of people we’d call the salt of the earth.

At 8 a.m. Sunday, my neighbors, the Vogts, and their parents, who brought chainsaws, took to removing our tree from blocking the street. I can’t thank them enough for helping us in that time, especially considering their property sustained much more damage than just one tree in the road.

They were not the only ones who jumped into action.

All across Cassville as I went to collect photos, families, friends and recovery-related businesses joined together in the initial cleanup. From removing downed limbs to setting up services for free food, phone charging and showers, everyone showed up.

Generators were being circulated throughout areas without power, lent at no cost and with no strings attached. For a few hours on Sunday, we benefitted from such generosity, courtesy of Whitney Kloss and Robert Espinoza. As soon as our power returned, so did they to take their generator to the next person in need.

My old sports editor, Jared Lankford, had seven large generators he has been shuffling from house in need to house in need over the last two days.

Again, those are just two examples I know of personally. Judging from social media and word of mouth, many others were offering the same things to their neighbors and friends.

On behalf of anyone who has received assistance, I thank them for their efforts.

An even larger heap of thanks should also go to the public service employees in our area. From Barry Electric linemen and staff to volunteer firefighters to city public works employees, hundreds of people have spent 10- and 12-hour days working tirelessly to clear debris, restore electric service and give people back their sense of normalcy.

Many of those people have been doing that, then going home to their own residences to face damage cleanup or lack of power.

On behalf of anyone who has been helped directly or indirectly by those individuals, I offer wholehearted thanks.

You never realize how much you rely on things like electricity until it is ripped away from you. As of Tuesday at 2 p.m., Barry Electric had about 3,400 members still without power. Some of those will be restored maybe as I am typing this, but others may wait days or weeks before their lives are put back to anything that resembles what they had on Saturday.

Last year, in this column space, I wrote about the heart of Cassville being exposed to tragedy after tragedy.

In that time, we came together. In this time, we’ve come together.

As I said in that column, “The heart of Cassville may be bruised, but it remains beating as strong as ever — and we will heal.”

Kyle Troutman has served as the editor of the Cassville Democrat since 2014 and became Publisher in 2023. He was named William E. James/Missouri Outstanding Young Journalist for daily newspapers in 2017, and he won a Golden Dozen Award from ISWINE in 2022. He may be reached at 417-847-2610 or ktroutman@cassville-