September 18, 2013

The 100-Year Boulder Flood—My Story.

Boulder is notorious for its cyclists crowding the highways, runners blazing trails, fit people in tight yoga gear circulating through Whole Foods.

There have been several jokes made that in order to live in Boulder, Colorado, you have to be fit or they will kick you out.

Normally, everyone rejoices in this dedication to physical excellence; however, during a tragedy, the streets weren’t just flooded with water, the streets were flooded with runners.

I’ve lived in Boulder a long time and I have never seen more people in need of a run than I did during a huge environmental disaster.

Perhaps it was a reaction to crisis, or these people thought there was nothing better to do.

Whatever it was, even I, the runner, thought it was super-odd.

When it started raining in Boulder on Wednesday, September 11th, emotions were already flying high due to the anniversary of such an immense tragedy.

As the rain fell, I took it symbolically, for the tears in many people’s heart over thousands of lives lost.

9/11 still haunts many of us—especially New Yorkers, who lived in the city during the time or had family or friend there.

As I stood there watching the rain come clamoring down my window panes at 6:00 am, 9:00 am, then 12:00 pm on, I wasn’t prepared for the rain to not stop.

Rain is not a common element of Colorado the way it it is elsewhere in the country, like Oregon or Washington. For God’s sake, in the high dessert we’re living in, we’re usually praying for it.

It falls mostly during the end of summer in strong bold spouts and then turns off, leaving the feeling of rejuvenation upon us.

Not this time.

It never stopped.

This time is brought death and destruction before renewal.

In the wake of the flood, I had to leave Boulder to travel for work.

On Thursday, Sept 12th, I woke up early and read a note my husband had left for me on the floor of my bedroom:

“Wake me up. I’ll drive you to the airport. Roads are closed everywhere. The buses won’t be running.”

He was right. Roads were closed, flash flood warning signs blaring through my phone all night long, school closure notices coming in through text messages and email. Even the University of Colorado had shut down.

But we left on the adventure to the airport, trying to navigate our way through all the closures.

I made it in plenty of time but as I was lining up to board, the flight attendants announced my flight would be five hours delayed.

Panic mode. I was traveling to six cities in eight days. I’d have to restructure the entire trip. Somehow, hours later, I made it out of town.

And so for the past five days, I’ve been watching the disaster back home via online media and television—and of course, the reports I am getting from my family and friends.

I live in North Boulder, right at the tip of where everything could get really, really hairy, given there is a mountain at the base of my house rushing water in our direction.

Miraculously, our house was not affected by the flood.

But just a block away, not far at all, friends with homes who have basements were losing the battle of water entering their homes.

Roads had literally washed away.

Friends could not get down from their houses only a few miles above us in the canyon.

Helicopters have been flying over our house every five minutes, bringing supplies up to those in need.

Mud. Water. Soot. Debris. No one could stop it.

I couldn’t have imagined that the day I left Boulder it would be hit by one the biggest floods in a hundred years.

Friends have been calling me screaming “biblical flood.”

We, Boulder types, are hard-wired to deal with snow, but rain?

Nobody could have seen this coming.

In the past couple years Boulder and the surrounding areas have been hit by wild fires.

I’ve been evacuated. Fires stopped only feet from my front door.

And now flash floods.

While reports of shocking news filled the TV screens, people have been rushed to neighbors and friends to help with water damage.

Flooded basements, landslides, airlifts, electricity out, highways destroyed, contaminated running water, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage to home and cities.

This devastation will take months, maybe even a year to rebuild.

In the midst of all of this chaos that was literally taking Colorado by storm, people from all over came out to help others who’s lives had been impacted by the flood.

Hoards and hoards of people, rescue workers, friends, neighbors all joined forces to help those less-fortunate to tip out carpet, save furniture and sentimental goods from the onslaught of rain crushing people’s windows down and damaging homes.

It is always so amazing to experience and witness the human spirit at work and play.

People coming together unselfishly in times of need to help others.

There is no thought of payment. Only service.

It reminds me that no matter how bad life gets, what happens in the world, there is always shelter in the loving arms of friends and neighbors who see people in need or crisis and rise to the occasion.

It makes me feel proud to live where I do when I see other decent human beings quickly responding to those in need.

Many in Colorado will be feeling the effects of the storm long after the rain has stopped.

Lives have been lost. Bodies are still missing.

But in every tragedy, there is a blessing; and I am proud to belong to a race of beings that are capable of unifying and coming together in times of crisis.

When it comes down to it, we do know how to show up for others when necessary.

I would like to give a shout out to all those who were able to help others in need during the flood and to all the rescue workers, fire fighters and police who saved people’s lives during this flash flood.

I have just shared my personal experience with the Boulder Flood. If you have any personal stories you would like to experience or feelings to share about the flood and what you witness and experienced I would love to hear from you. Please leave your comments in the box below.

Please feel free to share this with others, if so inspired. Post it on FB, Pinterest or Tweet it.

XO, Hayley

Like elephant Boulder on Facebook.

Ed: Sara Crolick

{photo: Striking Photography by Bo}



Read 3 Comments and Reply

Read 3 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Hayley Hobson  |  Contribution: 7,880