Janesjournals roving reporter is still in Fort Collins, now in search of the human side of the flood. I did not have to go far. At the breakfast bar in my hotel I met several people who were evacuated from flood areas. This is a pet friendly hotel so the evacuees are able to stay here with their dogs. They tell stories of coming out of the canyons by helicopter and people meeting them on this end to offer additional help. One man lived high up near Estes Park, and he says that the mountain became like an Island, surrounded by water. He described neighbors who tried to get out on 4-wheelers and horseback. He said after 6 hours the people on 4-wheelers came back, and after about 24 hours, the people who left on horseback hiked back up, some without their horses.
The same man also told me they shot and ate wild turkeys to survive. But most interesting to me, he spoke about how people began to loot after a few days. The man said they shot 60 rounds over the heads of people trying to get onto their property to loot.
He and an elderly woman who was also evacuated talked about getting water flown in but no food. They kept asking the helicopter crews as they flew in and out (taking the infirm first) to please bring food the next time. However, paperwork snafus prevented them from doing so.
I notice that these people need to talk. That I am a stranger does not matter; they have to tell their story, to speak of the horror. They are shaken, still seemingly in a bit of shock. I don’t mention that I am a minister, I just listen, with each story sounding more interesting than the last. My parting words to each survivor I talk to in the lobby: “glad you are safe”. That seems to bring comfort.
On the lobby TV, which is tuned to local news, I hear that today will be mostly clear and sunny on the front range, for the first time in a week. I hear that flooding continues downstream as the enormous flow of water moves down the South Platte, towards the Platte River. In this immediate area–Laramie County–1200 homes are completely destroyed. The only good news so far, is that the list of people missing dropped from 1200 to 645 and should drop even more.
As I walk my own dog outside the hotel the sun shines brightly, but I see signs of the heavy rains: cement islands in the parking lot are torn up, the gravel is washed out , and on the other side stands a pile of branches taller than me.
The human side of the flooding is heartbreaking but then my mind turns to the geologic side of the event. The canyons that flooded were originally carved by similar, raging flood waters. The canyons are now wider than before in a display on ongoing geological cause and effect. Concurrently a fresh round of nutrients flows into the plains ecosystem. Hopefully, we learn that the forces of Mother Nature are greater than we are and that we never really contain her in our dams and levees. I cannot help but point out that we put too much faith in our technology, and not enough faith in the unseen force of the universe.
But, back to a happy topic, the wedding I did yesterday, just north of Fort Collins. Below are photos of the venue.
Groom and his father, who was also the best man