Storm survivor grateful for helpers

Mona Bowden, 88, left, holds her pill box while she chats with Warren County Sheriff's deputy Jesse Henry inside her home near Shenandoah River Estates in Front Royal on Wednesday. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – Mona Bowden lives at the end of narrow dirt road that snakes more than a mile through pasture and woods before reaching her four-story house. The deck leads out in to a backyard that drops nearly straight down to the Shenandoah River flowing far below.

But the fairyland vista of sky, river and woods turned bleak and threatening when the blizzard hit last weekend. Bowden, 88, faced the prospect of the land around her buried deep in snow for days, the possibility of a power outage and no guarantee of when a plow would arrive to open the road and end her isolation.

The snow came Friday, and a caretaker in the home drove Bowden to the Super 8 hotel in Front Royal where she would spend the new few days waiting for the blizzard to end. There was one problem: she realized after arriving at the hotel that she hadn’t taken enough of her medication with her.

“With my diabetes, I need my medicine, and nobody could get out here,” Bowden said in an interview at her home. “We were wall to wall snow.”

Enter Deputy Jesse Henry of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. Henry, working with county 911 dispatcher Ashley Woodall, managed to find a doctor who faxed Bowden’s prescriptions to the pharmacy at the nearby Martin’s supermarket.

Warren County Sheriff's deputy Jesse Henry, left, stands outside the home of Mona Bowden, 88, right, near Shenandoah River Estates in Front Royal. He was one of several people who helped her after the blizzard. Rich Cooley/Daily

The storm had passed but roadsides and parking lots were still piled high with snow when Henry stopped by the motel and drove Bowden to the pharmacy to pick up her prescriptions.

Henry gave Woodall most of the credit for rounding up everything needed to fill the prescriptions.

“She was somehow able to obtain the insurance information, and she was able to get it to Martin’s as well,” Henry said of Woodall.

Deborah Gray, who used to work for Bowden as a bookkeeper and remains in regular contact with her as a friend, helped Woodall throughout the day.

“She stayed in contact with me and Mona through the whole eight hours and that’s in addition to doing her regular job as well,” Gray said of Woodall.

After arriving at the pharmacy, Bowden decided she wanted to get something to eat. The pharmacist telephoned an order to the PaveMint Taphouse and Grill, a favorite eating place of hers.

“I don’t drink, but they all know me there,” she quipped.

Bowden was safely back in her home by the time she celebrated her 88th birthday in the middle of the week. The last of the massive snow banks, so unsettling when they first appeared, will be gone in a few weeks, but memories of the great blizzard and the people who helped her survive it will last much longer.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or