September Floods: One Year Later

September Floods: One Year Later

One year has passed since several days of steady, relentless rain saturated the ground around Boulder and Larimer counties, and so began the flooding unlike anything the Front Range community has ever seen.

Like a sponge at capacity, the ground was so replete with moisture that flood waters diverted to any low point they could accumulate, including, unfortunately, the lower levels of many homes throughout Boulder and surrounding areas.  Creeks that once carved canyons swelled and forged new paths, some through the living rooms and kitchens of bank-side homes, wiping out roads and uprooting trees and long settled debris as they raged their way to flatter land.

A line of flood-stricken residents waits for a fresh batch of sump pumps. Local vendors worked closely with McGuckin Hardware to bring in emergency shipments of supplies from around the country.

As with most spiritual tests, the Boulder community had no forewarning of the 1000-year rain event, until they were quite literally immersed in it.

Sandbags went first, as desperate residents attempted to divert torrents from flowing directly into their homes. Sump pumps soon followed as people tried to keep up with siphoning the ceaseless waters from crawlspaces and basements. In many cases the power was lost, compounding damage and adding even darker nights to those cloudy days.    As with most spiritual tests, the Boulder community had no forewarning of the 1000-year rain event, until they were quite literally immersed in it.

Although the first observed emotions tied to a millennial flood resembled shell-shocked confusion, a new determination soon developed as neighbors, family members and friends banded together their efforts and creativity to deal with their collective strife.

Kindness, ingenuity and optimism came afloat in a way that might’ve made McGyver and Gandhi embrace in a hug. We saw and helped people think outside the box to solve a myriad of problems in the most creative ways, and duct tape was used in more than a few of the solutions.

When the rain finally stopped, and cleanup began, groups like Mudslingers and Boulder County CareConnect dedicated their time and resources to making order out of the result of several days of chaos. Emergency relief funds were organized and allocated by local organizations and businesses. Shovels and wheelbarrows were employed to move deposited debris. Dehumidifying and fungus prevention were the talk of the town for the following weeks, and many in a town like Boulder shied away from bleach in favor of more natural options to fight the activated black mold.

Many individuals also volunteered their hard work to restore access and power to homes, so displaced residents could make them habitable again before the rapid-approaching cold weather of winter moved in.

As Tiernan Doyle said in Wednesday night’s recovery-themed panel at the Boulder History Museum, “those who question the merit of volunteerism, haven’t been paying attention in the last year.”

The panel discussed the rebuilding progress over the past four seasons, commended relief efforts and remembered the 10 lives lost during the storm.

The most important thing the 2013 floods taught us, is that we are all in this community together. We are proud to live in a place where adversity is met with a strong, selfless spirit of giving, assisting others and improving tough situations in desperate times as they arise, if even with just a well-timed hug.