SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Today marks 15 years since Springfield was paralyzed by an ice storm in 2007. OzarksFirst learned that even in 2022, the memories from this destructive event are still very fresh.

OzarksFirst spoke with a man who lived in Fair Grove at the time but still felt the impact 20 minutes down the road. During the storm, more than 30 trees fell onto Eric Pauly’s driveway.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Pauly said. “I quite honestly hope I don’t ever see anything like that again. These were oak’s and hickories and cedar trees. Fortunately, I did have a chainsaw with a brand new chain, and enough fuel and oil to go ahead and start cutting all that in order to get ourselves back out. We were basically treebound at that point. My wife and I were out there, and she was watching to make sure that no trees were falling my way. I couldn’t hear anything over the chainsaw. I would cut the trees and throw them off to the side of the roadways so we could get up to the Farm Road.”

On January 12, 2007, several inches of ice-covered trees and power lines. The lines couldn’t support the weight of the ice and falling branches. Much of Springfield was without power for several days. Some places were in the dark and cold for weeks.

Pauly says after he safely got out of his driveway, he remembered seeing absolute destruction in Springfield.

“Tree limbs and trees down all over the place,” Pauly said. “I saw a lot of destruction in Phelps Grove Park. So many of these older trees that we have that really make up this park, we have lost, or at least lost part of them.”

The storm’s aftermath made for a very busy cleanup for City Utilities (CU). Joel Alexander says a lot of people went out of their way to help.

“Everyone that was working at City Utilities back in 2007 was working that entire duration,” Alexander said. “We had retirees come back to help us with things that even maybe they didn’t do in their previous time here when they worked for CU, but we put them into other roles.”

Since then, CU has changed its approach to tree trimming.

“We have a very aggressive tree-trimming policy,” Alexander said. “So we’re actually trying to get on a cycle to where we can go through the entire community on our service territory hopefully on a five-year basis. The trimming may not always look the best. It is done in a way that is good for the tree and hopefully will help in a way that’s not gonna grow those limbs back into the utility lines.”

CU says nearly two-thirds of its customers were without power that day. It had to rebuild about 70 percent of its entire system. The storm at its worst left 75,000 of its 106,000 customers without power.