A massive ice storm that shut off electric power to much of Kentucky two weeks ago didn’t affect the Amish in that state—except perhaps to bring out the best in them. According to an Associated Press story last week, when the disaster hit, the Amish knew how to help their neighbors, since they are quite used to living without electricity.
One rural Amish man, Joe Stutzman, lent some lanterns to his neighbors who had lost their power. “I feel sorry for my neighbors who were used to electricity and all of a sudden didn’t have it,” he told the reporter. “I know that must be hard for them.”
The 8,500 Amish residents of Kentucky were generally unaffected by the massive power outage, caused mostly by tree limbs falling across power lines due to the ice storm. More than half a million residents of the state lost their electricity, many for over a week, as utility crews worked around the clock trying to restore power.
The reporter was impressed by the Stutzman household, where Mr. and Mrs. Stutzman and their seven children lived quite snugly in a home heated by stove wood. Mr. Stutzman lit a kerosene lantern and showed the reporter their basement, stocked full of canned goods. He also pointed out their milk cow out back in the barn. Mrs. Stutzman and two of their daughters baked with a wood stove in the kitchen. Mr. Stutzman told the reporter he only became aware of the approaching storm from his neighbors, since he has no radio or television.
A non-Amish family living down the road from the Stutzmans, Beverly and James Hutchins, told the AP reporter that the Amish family across the road from them gave them coffee every day for the week that the power was out. They also supplied well water, fixed a lantern of theirs, lent them another one, and even baked a meal for them. “Best neighbors we’ve ever had, and we’ve been around a few places,” Mr. Hutchins told the reporter.
The reporter concluded that many non-Amish people in rural Kentucky have depended, during the previous week, on the kindness of their Amish neighbors. People like the Hutchins family gained a better sense of the Amish way of life without electricity—and they certainly grew to appreciate their generosity.