…and the Water Taketh Away

St. Vrain River at peace, © amomnextdoor, 2013

St. Vrain River at peace, © amomnextdoor, 2013

You never think it will happen to your family. And then it does.

Last Thursday, my 65-year old mom and 86-year old grandma were evacuated by bucket loader from their riverside home in Lyons, CO. Sirens began sounding from the town at 2 a.m. that morning, but on the far side of the river my mom and grandma could hear nothing over the roaring river. They slept through the early calls for evacuation.

At 5:30 a.m. the housekeeper called, awakening my mother. The house was already surrounded by water, the river lapping at the underside of the porches. Several calls to 911 later, they were still in the house. Since the water had not yet entered, no plans for evacuation were made. A bit later the head of a local construction company called to check on them. Soon after, the head of the Department of Publics work arrived with his bucket loader. With the help of three water rescue workers, they lifted my grandmother into the muddy bucket of that machine. By that time the water was already up to the doorknob of my grandfather’s old shop. With the cell phone tower down, it was hours before we heard from my mother that they were safe. Many people are still missing. Many families have still not heard from their loved ones.

By Friday the flooding had gotten so bad that the entire town of approximately 2,000 people–the place where I spent all my summers growing up–had to be evacuated.

My mom and grandma spent one night in the evacuation center at Lyons Elementary School,

English: I took photo with Canon camera in Lyo...

where my grandfather taught for many years, and another day and night at LifeBridge Church in Longmont, before they were ready to move again. Now safely situated with my brother and sister-in-law, they wait.

The town of Lyons is working hard to restore power, sewage and water to its residents. Meanwhile, displaced townsfolk wait in lines for limited passes to get back to their properties: to assess the damage, gather their valuables, and leave without flushing a single toilet for fear of overloading Lyons’ tenuous system. Not even yet enough time to grieve.

On Friday, more than a week of weather after the initial flooding, my mom and brother will finally get to see what mark the river has left on the home my grandparents built, the home that brought my entire family together in the summers, for homemade ice cream and river tubing, horseshoes and dominoes and stories around the kitchen table.

I don’t usually blog about the news, but this time the news really hit home.

If you want to help, please look into the donation campaigns below. Please consider posting links to your other social media. This beautiful town and its residents will need all the help they can get to rebuild.

Main Street, Lyons, CO.  © amomnextdoor, 2011

Main Street, Lyons, CO. © amomnextdoor, 2011

DONATE HERE to the Lyons Community Foundation/Flood Relief, part of the Boulder Community Foundation. Click the green Donate Now button and be sure to designate Lyons Community Foundation/Flood Relief from the drop-down menu to direct your donation to the town and people of Lyons.

Or, DONATE HERE for the indiegogo campaign started by Lyons H.S. graduates collecting funds on behalf of the Lyons Community Foundation/Flood Relief.

Or consider putting one of these on the counter at work:

Photo by Jen La Follette/Ross Lehmkuhler

Photo by Jen La Follette/Ross Lehmkuhler

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9 thoughts on “…and the Water Taketh Away

    • Wonderful news–the water did not go into the house! Came within 1/2″ of the threshold…The property and all the outbuildings are wrecked, though. Silt and mud everywhere. I really don’t know what my mom and grandma are going to do. But my mom said it was such a relief to walk into the house itself and basically find it just the way she left it.

    • Thank you for reading. The world now has this amazing capacity for witness, a wonderful opportunity for global compassion that really can make a difference in people’s lives. Shortly after the flood, my mom and grandma received an envelope containing a letter written entirely in Japanese. And over $500 US dollars, in all denominations down to $1 bills. A Japanese woman connected by cousins and marriage to my mom’s family sent the money, having recently lived through the tsunami herself, paying it forward. What struck me was not only her generosity, but also her intimate knowledge of disasters, coded in those $1 bills.

  1. I’m so glad your mom and grandma are ok, cause of course that is the most important thing. But I hope the house will be salvageable since I know it is a very special place.

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