Story by James Jolly
A massive rainstorm has recently hit a large area of Colorado, spanning from Denver to the Wyoming border. The storm produced heavy rain last week. The Front Range area, including the cities of Boulder and Fort Collins, was hit the hardest.
The Front Range is also home to many small, mountainous towns. The area was inundated under 17 inches of rain over a five-day period.
Many of the small, mountain towns are located in large basins surrounded by steep hills, making them natural flooding plains.
Lyons, a small town located in the foothills outside of Boulder, was effectively isolated due to the flooding.
As massive pools of water accumulated in and around the town and bridges became impassable, residents were urged to evacuate their homes by the National Guard.
A week and a half later, many families still cannot return to their homes.
Daily life was disrupted, with businesses closing early and highways becoming impassible. Many schools, including the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU), were forced to suspend class last Thursday and Friday, fearing for the safety of students.
There has been significant damage to many roads. Underground drainage pipes burst, causing entire portions of road to crumble or drift away. Many bridges have been washed out, leaving people stranded. Almost all outdoor trails have been quartered off, and many parks have been turned into marshes.
Mary Hume, a resident of Boulder County, said, “The trails have become rivers. The soft dirt that covered them has completely run off, leaving muddy sludge everywhere”
Rivers flooded over banks and into people’s yards, flowing into basements and cellars. Power outages became common as homes and power facilities flooded.
Many people went without clean drinking water for the weekend, as water treatment plants shut down.
Left Hand Water, a local water provider for the Boulder area, reported that their three water sources had overflown, and become contaminated, muddy, or otherwise unsuitable. “People started buying tons of packaged water. Many stores are completely out of stock. We had to boil our own water. I never thought I would have had to do that,” says Hume.
Fortunately, the rain has stopped, and the community has stepped up. Stories of strangers lending helping hands and neighbors banding together are common and heartwarming.
When the youth pastor of Longs Peak United Methodist Church found her home flooded, she was distraught. But the church provided her family with housing and helped to drain and salvage their home. With their help, she was able to go back to her home after only a few days.
Despite being so far away, there are still ways in which Drake students can help. Numerous charities have been set up, including the Colorado Flood Relief Program, the CU-Boulder Disaster recovery fund, and Foothills Flood Relief Fund. The rain has stopped, but the recovery has just begun.