Colorado’s Worst Flooding in Decades
It’s 2 am on an average September Morning, you’re tucked tightly under your covers, and the cat is at the foot of the bed. You wake to a strange sound, “is that a voice? What is that noise?” Then, your heart sinks and you realize it’s a siren alerting your town that there is a mandatory evacuation.
It’s been raining significantly the last several days, but 34 years in the same house, you never imagined you’d ever see this day. You are scrambling to find the keys to the car and when you find them you stumble your way to the door and you discover that the flood waters have swallowed your car whole. The truck is still accessible so you grab the keys. You start to leave the house and run to grab the cat. Only, he won’t come, he runs and hides under the bed. You have to make a decision in a split second whether you leave your furry companion behind. You grab what you can and head out the front door.
Suddenly, you are pulled off your feet by the water, which is thigh deep. The beautiful river that runs behind the house is now rushing down your street, your driveway, and your backyard. Your husband is on his feet, grabs you and pulls you up, and you both make your way to the truck. The cat, you can’t leave him without trying again, so you go back. You rush inside to find him standing on top of the bed because the water has flooded the house, and he’s just as panicked as you are. You are able to grab him and run.
You dash out of town, leaving behind 34 years of memories. Photos of your kids, your wedding day, cherished moments you never imagined you’d lose. “Where will we go? What will be there when we go back?”
This story was shared with our strike team and is all too familiar to many families who call Lyons, Colorado home. Abnormal rainfall in September caused massive flood devastation the state hasn’t seen in decades. Thousands of people were evacuated, thousands of homes damaged, lives lost, roads washed out, and communities left to pick up the pieces. Doors are marked with special markers signifying the extent of the damage; none of the homes we visited were habitable. Many of the homes weren’t even accessible. As we began to dig through the debris to clear paths for homeowners, the pieces of their lives that were left behind began to show. Christmas stockings poking through the mud, Photo albums, children’s toys, and dressers; personal belongings trapped in the mud and debris and filled yards and roadsides.
Hundreds of residents had been displaced, some of them with nowhere to go. One gentleman was living by the river in his truck with his dog because he couldn’t return home and had nowhere else to go. Other residents so devastated by their destroyed lives and memories, they vow never to return. Lives washed away and left in it’s place: mud, dirt, broken pieces of what used to resemble a home.
We deployed a strike team in early October, once the floodwaters had receded, to help the community begin the process of recovery and rebuilding. Our team was able to help many residents dig out of the debris and mud, and begin to clear paths to their homes. We were grateful to the people who made it possible for us to come in and help with the recovery efforts. A special thanks to CEC Rents for providing us with top notch John Deere equipment that was essential in navigating through the mud and debris; thanks to Longmont Outdoor Power Equipment for providing us with our favorite STIHL chainsaws; and a shout out to all of the city officials who granted our team access and helped us give back. Thank you to all of our supporters who participated in the Colorado t-shirt campaign, which allowed us to help the community of Lyons. – C.H. Team ROWW
Special thanks to Longmont Outdoor Power Equipment – the STIHL dearship that helped us. To GoPro — we were able to document our efforts on the worlds most versatile camera’s in the most adverse conditions. Thirdly, to CEC Center for helping us acquire the heavy equipment.