Finding safety was a crapshoot for the Fields family from their site in the 10 Mile Camground when the epic thunder and wind storm hit Ferry County around 4 p.m. on July 20.
“The trees were leveled,” said Herb Fields of Cheney. “The winds came out of nowhere and lasted less than a minute.”
Fields, his wife, Rena, and sons, Herb Jr. and Benny, ran into the Sanpoil River in an attempt to be away from trees.
On the way, Benny, 15, suffered scrapes from branches on a tree that came thundering down.
With trees still creaking and falling after winds slowed, the family took refuge in the campground’s concrete outhouse – the only safe spot – for about three hours until a state trooper came by.
When they came out, the roadway to the outhouse was obliterated by fallen trees and their tent and both vehicles were smashed.
“I didn’t know how long we were going to be in the outhouse, so I made multiple trips back to camp for water, food, sleeping bags, lantern, pet bird and cat,” Herb Fields said.
The cat bolted away at one point and was lost, but the family returned and found it three days later “tangled in the brush on his leash, tired and hungry.”
“I’m thankful for the help we received,” Fields said. “I’m most thankful that my family is safe and sound and no one else was in the campground.
“The power of this storm was unbelievable. My heart goes out to all who were in this storm.”
By Friday, Colville National Forest crews were able to open all of the campgrounds except 10 Mile.
However, many forest roads and trails in the Republic Ranger District are still blocked by fallen trees, officials said.