Part 6 of An Attempt to Live a Normal Life – (Originally posted on my (then) ‘Homeless and Female’ blog in 2013).
One day in September it started raining very heavily (the 9th?). We didn’t think much of it at first, we get rain here every now and then and it had been a very wet summer, but pretty soon we realized this was different. The clouds settled in, and kept on dumping and dumping.
As I’ve mentioned before, this little town is in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. It is built in a beautiful little valley, with mountains all around. There are many rivers and streams, and seasonal streams that flow from the high peaks, glaciers, and valleys, and a couple of them flow right through downtown. Normally this water flows lazily through town, and people from other states don’t even realize they are rivers. They call them creeks (cricks) and steams. The only time the water reaches the banks is during the spring snow melt, when it may flood the post office parking lot a bit, and lap over its banks in a few other areas, but it is normal, and most residents and stores are ready for it. (That being said, there have been floods here in the past).
As the rain became one long, torrential downpour, I decided to collect some of the water that was pouring from my roof, and save it to use for flushing my toilet (I have to pay for water delivery, and so I re-use as much water as I can. Plus, I naturally abhor water waste, after having lived for long periods where I have to haul, scrimp, or ration my water supply for days or even weeks and months on end). I emptied every plastic container and bucket I had of camping stuff, and set them under my water spout. I gathered about 125 gallons of water in just 1.5 hours (or thereabouts) from my downspout. (I learned later that this is actually illegal, as all the water is owned by the people that own the water drains, or something like that. Just another one of those ridiculous rules of society). I used this water for the next two weeks, to flush my toilet, scrub mud-laden boots, and water the plants.
I had never seen rain like this in the 17-years I’d (more-or-less) lived in Colorado. It just kept coming, and when it seemed it was impossible to get worse, it got worse. I was fascinated.
On September 11 (9/11), the rivers flowed over their banks, run-offs (or seasonal streams as the real estate people like to call them) formed in every gully, water pooled in low-lying areas, and springs started to pop up everywhere, including under peoples homes and flooding their basements. The rock that makes these the Rocky Mountains, could hold no more, and it went to the only place it could – up out of the ground, and then down to the lowest lying areas.
Downtown flooded, the two rivers there joined, and the main street became a river. In other areas, normally tiny little rivers that looked like streams, swelled way beyond their banks, and grew to sizes never seen in this valley before.
The store that I worked at was right on the edge one of these two rivers, and the water was lapping the banks on this day, but my place of work was still okay, at least for now. I walked through town where I could, and took many pictures. Everyone was taking pictures.
There are basically only four ways out of Estes Park. Two of the roads lead downhill from this high valley; one passes through a deep sided canyon for about 20-miles (Hwy 34), the other goes down another long canyon (Hwy 36), but it is a little wider. Both lead down to the flat plains of Colorado. There is also a road that goes up out of town. It twists and turns, and rolls, through the mountains and is a very long, though scenic drive to the next town. The final road out is over the top of the Rocky Mountains (Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park), and passes clear over the top of the tundra. It is a very long drive to anywhere going that way (45 miles to the next town, which is even smaller than this one).
In past years when I was camping in the forest around here, or when I lived down Hwy 34 in Drake (in an abandoned little cabin with no water), I signed up for an emergency service that would send me an email, voice message, or text message to my phone (LETA) for certain areas that I frequently camped or took refuge. I did this with hopes that I would get the warning message before I got trapped in an area if there was a wildfire, or other dangerous situation imminent, as homeless people don’t have landlines and therefore no reverse 911 service.
I think it was 9/11 when the emergency warnings came to my phone. They were warning of high waters, and that people who lived in any of the canyons should stay off the highway, away from the fast-moving water, and remain on high ground. I sat in my little cabin, listening to the rain on my roof, and felt a sense of dread wash over me.
And so the floods began, and this was when things changed…
I will continue in the next post…
Looking back on the floods – Homeless Gal
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