Colorado’s Thousand Year Flood

When the torrential rains began last week, I didn’t complain. People who live here never complain about rain. Half the time our state is either on fire or in a drought. Besides, every Colorado rainstorm blows over after a few hours. That’s just how it is.

But last Monday, it rained the entire day. And the day after that. But still, no complaints. Just a few jokes about misdirected Seattle weather.

It continued to pour all day Wednesday. Not quite so funny anymore. On Thursday, the phone rang just before six in the morning, startling us awake. Boulder Valley School district had cancelled school for fear of flash flooding. Darrick and I were incredulous. Snow days are common around here, but canceling school for rain? It seemed ridiculous.

Minutes later, this happened a mile from our house.

Broomfield Flooding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rain of biblical proportions continued to fall. More than seventeen inches in Boulder this past week. Boulder’s average precipitation is only twenty inches in an entire year. I read the statistics, unable to wrap my head around the fact that we remain untouched (knock on forty-seven pieces of wood), when just thirteen miles away, Boulder has been brought to its knees. More evacuations have taken place from what some are calling the “Thousand Year Flood” than any other disaster in this country since Hurricane Katrina. Hundreds unaccounted for. Eight deaths. 1,500 homes destroyed and over 18,000 damaged.

Flood marker in Boulder

Flood marker in Boulder

Car lot in Greeley

Car lot in Greeley

Estes Park

Estes Park

Lyons, Highway 34.

Lyons, Highway 34.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a disconnect for me because so far, I’ve only seen pictures of the devastation just miles away, in places I love like Boulder and Estes Park. We’ve only been served a wee, little tapas plate of minor inconvenience. Soccer was cancelled, along with four days of school. My beloved trail is a washed out mess, but easily fixed. It’s hard to fathom all the destruction, when this morning the sun is shining in a cloudless, wide open blue sky. It’s a normal, sunny Colorado day. But for thousands of Coloradans, normal is a thing of the past.

If you can help, here are some great organizations:

  • Foothills United Way All of the money donated is going directly to people affected by the floods, according to Heather Spencer, the communications manager of Foothills United Way. The fund is focusing on Boulder and Broomfield counties, where the organization is located. It will work with local and state officials to determine what people’s needs are and partner with the appropriate organizations. The Boulder Community Foundation is matching up to $50,000 of donations.
  • Help Colorado Now:  HelpColoradoNow.org is a collaboration between the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the Colorado Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster that pairs donations with survivor’s needs. They have compiled a list of reputable organizations for people to donate money, which it says is the most effective way to help. The site also has several lists to organize volunteers and materials needed — like food, water and clothing.
  • Colorado chapters of the American Red Cross: Since the floods started last week, the Red Cross and its partners have provided shelter to more than 1,600 people, served more than 7,000 meals and helped affected residents find the proper health and mental health professionals, according to its website. There are currently eight operating shelters across the state to help those that have been displaced. The Red Cross is accepting financial donations for relief and recovery, but is directing any small donations to Help Colorado Now.
  • Salvation Army: The Salvation Army is providing food and shelter to five of the hardest-hit counties in Colorado. Across the state, it has distributed thousands of meals to displaced people, emergency responders and law enforcement in affected areas. The Fort Collins shelter will remain open for 30 to 90 days.