The whole thing started almost like a movie last week. I was making dinner with the news on in the background. As I chop onions I hear a muffled weather report “a very wet system is moving into our area and could bring record levels of rainfall…” And then life goes on, onions get chopped, errands are run and you don’t think much of it.
The rain started last Monday and I guess it never really stopped. By Thursday, our area had seen over 10 inches of rain in 48 hours with no sign of letting up. I wasn’t concerned at first, it seemed like just another rain storm. And then I heard people talking about the river.
We live right next to a beautiful river. A river that flooded 40 years ago and killed 144 people. A river that we love. A river that is the heart of our town and one that has surrendered lots of fish to David’s fly rod. And it’s a river that carries much of the runoff and drainage for the Rockies Mountains above us.
As I was out grocery shopping and running errands on Thursday and everywhere I went I heard rumors of evacuations and flash flooding in a town just above us in the mountains. People whispering in the grocery store line “I heard they’ve evacuated the hospital because the the road is washing out…” “They say it could be worse than 1976…” On my way home I decided I wanted to see it for myself. I drove to the river by my house and my heart immediately sank. That’s my neighborhood in the background. Normally about 20 feet wide, the river had grown to about 1/4 mile across and was quickly creeping towards our neighborhood.
Upon coming home, I was greeted by frantic neighbors, the fire department, police department and reverse 911 calls all saying that I had to evacuate immediately. They gave us 20 minutes to get out. I grabbed our kitties and some clothes and left. In tears, I drove away and thought of all the possibilities of what might become of our home. We evacuated to my in-law’s house who graciously let us crash at their place.
Overnight Thursday, the river rose about 10 feet and spread out about a mile wide next to us. The road that runs in front of our home to the north and west was completely flooded and water was everywhere. It eventually turned into this on Friday…
We took a quick trip Friday morning to see if we could see anything or get close to our area. We started at the river access point I was at on Thursday where I took the first picture in this post. We were greeted with the pictures below. The river looked like it was about to swallow up our sweet little neighborhood. We attempted to talk with a department of transportation guy who had one of our roads blocked off, and he basically laughed in our faces and told us “yeah,that whole area is under water” when we asked about our neighborhood. Awesome. So that’s all the info we had to go on as we headed into the weekend.
At its height, the river was running at 10,000cfs, which is absolutely crazy considering that a typical September flow it’s often just below 100cfs. The town above us has a dam that was overflowing and they had to release a huge amount of water to release the pressure. That dam water, combined with the flooding rainfall made for a disastrous combination for my town and everything in between.
We felt pretty helpless as we watched the news on TV showing our entire town swiftly being destroyed. Bridges washed out, churches flooding, homes being swept away into the water, people drowning, livestock stranded in 5 feet of water. It was terrible….it still is terrible. Currently in Colorado there are a lot of people who are unaccounted for, 11,000 evacuations, (including over 2,000 that had to be evacuated via helicopter), over 17,000 homes damaged, 1,500 completely destroyed, 2,380 square miles and 17 counties of flooded land. If this rain were snow, we would have had 15-20 inches of snowfall.
The destruction in our area is almost beyond my comprehension…the pictures we have seen are absolutely unreal. My heart just breaks for my little town.
One of the worst areas is a canyon just went of us that heads into Rocky Mountain National Park. We are on this road all the time. At an emergency evacuee meeting we attended, the fire chief said there were about 50 sections of this road that have been 100% wiped out…there’s no asphalt, no road bed, just canyon walls and water.
Above is an arial view of near next to our neighborhood
The National Guard allowed us into our neighborhood today after 5 days of being evacuated and I am so happy to say that our home is okay. I really can’t describe what a miracle it is. Our neighborhood has sustained flood damage and by the looks of our street, the waters came right to our house, just not into our house. We are literally surrounded on all 4 sides by water, it feels like we’re on a little island.
I’m so humbled by God’s mercy on us, especially as many many many people surrounding us have lost their homes and everything they own. I definitely have survivor’s guilt…our house really shouldn’t be okay. Not with as close as we came to the river and with flooding on all 4 sides. We should be underwater right now. But for some reason, He had mercy on us and I am so incredibly humbled and grateful.
Please keep my precious state and all the people who have been affected by these floods in your prayers. Colorado, and the area where we live specifically, has already been through so much with wildfires and draught, we just need a break! My town, my friends, my church…everything has been affected by this, so please pray!