|Mount Saint Helens is a volcano located in the state of Washington.
It lies in the Southwestern part of Washington between the cities of Vancover
and Olympia. It is part of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
The mountain first started to show signs of eruption on March 27, 1980. I was sent there the next day to cover the story for Persons Magazine. I stayed with a friend on Mount Adams some 30 miles away. People were already asked to evacuate the area. One resident Harry Trueman, of spirit Lake said, "My wife and I, we both vowed years and years ago that we'd never leave Spirit Lake."
The eruption started May 18th at 8:32 a.m. I was sitting on the porch when the earthquake hit. Later, scientists reported the quake to be 5.0. I looked towards Mount Saint Helens and saw ash quickly covering the area. Within minutes, morning had turned into night. I went back into the cabin.
Several days passed and reporters were let back in the area. I saw the destruction by helicopter. The north side of the mountain slid away. Gas, ash and rock had raced down the mountain at 200 miles per hour covering 200 square miles of land. Mudslides and floods were caused by the eruption. I saw bridges split apart, top of houses in seas of mud, animals buried in mud and 150 foot Douglas firs uprooted 17 miles from the mountain.
Sixty one people died that day and as of this writing, 27 are still missing. Among those who died that day were Harry Truman, 84, Robert Lansburg, 48, a Photographer from Portland, Oregon and two U.S. Geological Survey members, Reid Blackburn and David Johnsten. Some two million birds, fish, and other animals died in the eruption and more than 150 miles of trout and salmon waters ruined. Twenty six lakes were destroyed. Almost 300 homes along the Toulte River were wrecked or badly damaged.
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