I got a text at 4:40 am. My phone was off, but vibrating, and somehow it woke me up. Good thing. It was the school district letting us know that “due to deteriorating conditions throughout the district and the continued rain and flooding, school will be closed today, Thursday, September 12th.” Hmm, that's weird, we've never had a rain day. I went and turned off alarms, informed (ecstatic!) children of the news, and went back to bed.
When I later watched the news, I saw what all the fuss was all about. The mountain town, Lyons, which is 10 miles west of here and at a higher elevation, had been all but destroyed. The main highway through town and continuing up to Estes Park, had been washed away in several places, and the small, picturesque tourist town's main street (and all of it's cute shops) was under five feet of water. Estes Park was cut off from the world (as was Lyons) and they were airlifting people out. We know many people who live in those towns. It was overwhelming.
Boulder, which is about 10 miles southwest of here, had also experienced flash flooding and several areas of the University of Colorado had been evacuated, and won't be inhabitable the rest of the semester. Several apartment complexes suffered a similar fate. All the major roads in and out were closing as the water rose. The Engineer works in Boulder.
He called me, saying he'd been turned around at the river on two of the main N-S streets through town, (and we knew Main Street was already closed) so maybe he'd just go back to work and wait it out since we live on the other side of the river. I told him he HAD to keep trying to get home. I'd been watching the news. He had not. His cell phone battery was dying. Traffic was horrible. Conditions were changing rapidly. I tried not to freak out. You know me, that didn't work so well.
I'm going to pause the tragedy for some levity. Some of you know that we get teased about our zombie apocalypse preparations. The Engineer has solar panels and a LOT of big, deep cycle batteries, and inverters, and a mostly finished electric car he built himself out of an old Toyota. We can run off grid for a while. We garden, he hunts, we buy in bulk, ridiculous amounts of bulk. We probably have enough food for several families. (And of course toilet paper...)
However, none of the scenarios we had prepared for (and no, we're not those crazy “Doomsday Preppers” we're just an inventor engineer and his along-for-the-ride wife) had included The Engineer NOT BEING HOME. My sister-in-law teased me later (after offering me her kayaks) that she had to run the generator at their house once, but at least she had a manual. Did The Engineer write manuals for his inventions? Um, that would be NO.
Three and a half hours later The Engineer arrives home safely. He had to take quite the circuitous route and sit in a lot of traffic, but he made it. I relaxed a bit.
The rain continued. They closed schools another day. We all began to realize the magnitude of what was happening as we watched videos and the news and read the on-line version of the paper. Road closures were updated at a ridiculous rate.
Our town was cut in half by the river, and everyone had to stay on his or her side, and HOME. No non-essential travel. I-25 was now closed. Neighborhoods evacuated, one of them 1.5 miles from here, but that at the bottom of a 1.5 mile high hill. We were safe. My friend's parents' house was flooded.
There's so much more to tell. The kindness of strangers, the overwhelming donations to the evac centers, the neighbors helping neighbors so that both houses could be saved, the miracle rescues, the unbelievable tragedy of a whole town washed away. I'm almost numb. We are safe, high, and dry, but so many friends and acquaintances are not and have lost so much. Schools are closed until the earliest return day of Thursday. The rain continues, off and on, and the clean-up will take months.
They're calling it a 500 year flood. As many people have been airlifted out as during Katrina. Almost 800 are unaccounted four. Many have died (no firm numbers as of right now). Please pray for Colorado.
Meanwhile, just a reminder, cuz I keep my promises:
THANKS to everyone who read and participated in Day One of the Temporary Anne blog tour! The story This Is How I... continues on Andrew Leon's blog, "Strange Pegs." Click here to go read that post and help decide what happens when the Beast looks at me..
If you didn't already get it, "Temporary Anne" is free again today, so click this link to download this excellent horror story.