Part 10 of An Attempt to Live a Normal Life – (Originally posted on my (then) ‘Homeless and Female’ blog in 2013).
On the morning after flood waters receded (September 14) I showed up at the other business location my boss owned, to see what was expected of me. Strangers were in the store helping to clean out the mud. My boss clearly didn’t want to pay an employee when she had people working for free, so I was just ignored. I decided to let it go, after all, she had three stores flooded, and had been evacuated from her home, and she was clearly under a lot of stress.
Then I showed up the following two mornings also, and was again ignored. I was not informed that I was out of a job, I was just ignored. Two weeks after the flood waters receded, I got confirmation that I was out of a job (through another employee), and applied for Disaster Unemployment. The place I worked had been red tagged, and had been deemed unsafe. No-one was even allowed to go in it. The two stores that weren’t too bad, were not in need of me as an employee, staff had been cut down to almost none. I was jobless, and wondered how the heck I was going to pay my rent that was due in two-weeks.
If the timing wasn’t bad enough already (I’d only been working there about 10-weeks, so hadn’t managed to save up much money yet), my vehicle broke down as well. Suddenly my only credit card went from a zero balance to $3,000, with no income coming in to pay it.
I was out of a job, and with the town suffering the way it was, I wasn’t alone. Hundreds of employees lost their jobs that day, as there was no tourism, and most of the jobs available were flood clean up, which was being taken care of by unpaid volunteers. The town was emptying of people rapidly, as people had actually been asked to leave Estes Park. Only year-round residents and business owners were allowed in, and other essential traffic such as medical staff, the National Guard and so on. Summer residents would be let out, but couldn’t return, and were told to winterize their homes, as they may not be able to come back until next year. Road blocks were set up on the only access road, and people had to prove they had a right to enter the town. To get in or out of the town, people had to go up Hwy 7, which had a mud slide across it. Traffic was being allowed through, but some none-4WD vehicles had to follow in the wake of a snow plow that pushed to water aside for the car.
Trail Ridge Road that went over the top of the tundra, in Rocky Mountain National Park was also open to essential traffic only, but the rest of the park was closed. Trail Ridge Road leads to a couple of very small, remote towns on the west side of The Great Divide, and there is even less there than in Estes Park. It can also be a very scary drive, with sheer drop offs, tight bends and unpredictable weather. To get anywhere else going that way, it was a very long drive. Still, they used it to bring in some essential equipment to help with the flood recovery. I can’t imagine what it was like driving over the tundra for the convoy of huge equipment that came to help us. Some people won’t do it in cars!
What can I say, it was a mess.
It was about 2-months later when Hwy 36 opened, and we residents were let out of jail (or so it felt) and we got to see what the flood had done down that canyon. It broke our hearts.
By Thanksgiving (November 28, 2013), Hwy 34 had opened also. No more 5-hour drives one way to get to the city. However, in my opinion, Hwy 34 was even more heartbreaking than Hwy 36, and though we are grateful that we were let out of Estes Park, the drive down the canyon was not a pleasant one any more. The devastation was, and still is, hard to see and is heart breaking. As for the little town of Glen Haven, it is all but gone. I had a home there once, and all that is left is the mail box with the house number on it which someone found and set there so we’d know there was once a building there. This breaks my heart even more, and even now, more than 4-months later, Glen Haven still doesn’t have all its roads re-built, and about half the town still can’t get to their homes.
And so the aftermath was revealed, the stories of bravery, and struggle all around. This effected everyone here, even if they didn’t get flooded. Whenever we drive out of this town, we see the destruction, and though one may start down the road in high spirits, they are quickly sobered when our eyes lay upon the devastation. It is hard to deal with, even now.
As for myself, on October 5, I got my first disaster unemployment payment. I had gone 6-weeks without any income, and I was hurting.
And so this ends the main part of the story of the flood. But my story doesn’t end here…until next time…
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