Part 7 of An Attempt to Live a Normal Life – (Originally posted on my (then) ‘Homeless and Female’ blog in 2013).
On September 12, the rivers and town flooded even more. I watched from my cabin on the hill, as the waters rose below the dam. The town was letting water out of the lake, and the gates were fully open. Beneath the dam, a new lake had formed, and swirling mass of debris, and sewage, and all of that water was squeezing out through one bridge before it went down into the steep-walled canyon of Highway 34 (Big Thompson Canyon). Both of the roads that led out of town to the east (Hwy 34 and 36), were closed. The high road that led over the tundra (Trail Ridge Road), and the windy road that led south were also closed with the exception of essential traffic. People couldn’t come into this town without having a good reason, and proof that they were a resident, business owner or such. We didn’t really know what was going on down in the canyons, but we knew it wasn’t good.
In downtown the rivers that flowed through town had risen, and many of the stores had started taking on water. Elsewhere homes were flooding, even when not in flood planes. It seemed that half the town was taking on water. Other rivers were rising, and undercutting the banks, so houses started to crumble into the rivers, and cars were being washed down stream. We had learned that many of the sewage pipes and water pipes had been destroyed, and that the mud and water was to be considered toxic, and also full of sewage, which could cause major heath hazards. Our lake had become a cesspool.
Then the power went out for many people, we lost internet access, and landlines, and couldn’t use our cell phones, and we lost our local news channels as the cables were swept away by flood waters in the canyons. The outside world didn’t know what was going on up here, and we didn’t have much idea what was going on elsewhere either. We were truly cut-off.
On the 12th, I drove into town, passing by the lake, and watched the waters lap close to the road. Southwest of my cabin was another river, that I noticed suddenly appeared very wide. Tons of household debris was washing down it, and piling up at the causeway that ran along the south side of the lake. Tires, windows, wood, refrigerators, children’s toys, whole trees and more. There were signs at the road that ran along this river, claiming ‘Road Closed.’ There was nowhere left to go. The cars that were driving around, were quite literally driving in circles. We were cut off from the rest of the world.
I made it to town, and parked where I could. Downtown was blocked off too, and there was a gathering of people staring at the town that had now become a lake. I made my way around the flooded areas sticking to higher ground, and made it to my place of work. I wasn’t surprised to see it standing in water, and mud. The hotel behind it had lost it’s parking lot to the river. A metal gate from some stables up river was hooked on a destroyed gazebo, and flapped up and down as the raging river slammed into it. There were some places I simply couldn’t access, and on my way back, I found that I couldn’t return the same way I’d come, as the waters had risen to flood the parking lots that quickly. I was stranded on an island, and had to remove my shoes to wade back to safety.
On the evening of the 12th, I sat in my cabin listening to the roar of water that was heading down the canyon get louder. I could feel the earth vibrate, and could only imagine what was happening to the homes and small towns down there. A new sound started behind my cabin, and when I went to investigate I saw that I now had my own little river running behind the cabin. I was high and dry though, and with my own water supply, and a septic tank that was also on higher ground, I found myself in a situation where I was actually better off than many others for once. Even my power stayed on.
I have a friend who is living in his RV, and I’d offered to let him park in my driveway for safety while this was going on. He’d made it out of his camping area in Rocky Mountain National Park to my home just before many of the roads were flooded. I have a wind-up radio and we listened to what was going on (one of those emergency survival radios that my dad gave me for Christmas one year). We learned that all our water was heading down to the towns and cities east of us, like Loveland, and Greelym and then out to the plains, and was causing total bedlam and severe damage. However, our little town wasn’t mentioned in the news. Even the news media couldn’t find out what was going on up here. The only people who really understood how bad it was, were those that were stranded in the foot-hills west of Fort Collins, Loveland, and Boulder.
I barely slept that night, and wondered what tomorrow, which was Friday the 13th, would bring.
Looking back on the flood,
Originally written and posted in October 2013 on my (then) ‘Homeless and Female’ blog.
Looking back on the year 2013, The Year of the Floods, and enjoying a nomadic lifestyle all the more because of it,
Roxy ~ A Nomad for Nature