Downtown Paintsville weathered a microburst storm Wednesday evening, right between our daytime festivities and our nighttime fireworks.
First and foremost, with winds gusting as fast as a hurricane, it is miraculous there were no deaths or injuries reported.
Though the damage was confined to buildings, trees, power lines and roads, it was nonetheless extensive. But it was also an opportunity to see the best in Paintsville.
Police and firefighters spent much of the evening closing roads, redirecting traffic, responding to security alarms triggered by the lightning strikes and power outages, responding to help elderly citizens concerned about their oxygen running out. They had one of the busiest and most stressful evenings imaginable, and handled it with dignity and grace.
Down the bypass and through Mayo Plaza, even with an influx of holiday traffic, wet roads and without red lights, drivers were cautious and courteous.
Downtown, there was a flurry of activity with regular citizens helping their neighbors clean yards, clear sidewalks and gather trash and debris.
Directors from every relevant city and county agency were on hand in person, pooling resources and discussing next steps. At the time, exact boundaries of the city limits became a lot less important than getting things done.
And at nightfall, after everything the town had faced, the fireworks went on.
In Francis Scott Key’s “Star-Spangled Banner,” the narrator is able to see, by the light of explosions and rockets, the American flag remains flying and all is well. One could be forgiven for seeing photos from the fireworks display Wednesday night and drawing a correlation, a message that like the nation at large, the City of Paintsville will endure any storm and come back stronger by working together.