As I write this post, the rain continues to pour down.
This September 11th, while most of us were remembering the horrid event from 12 years ago – Colorado was facing its own natural disaster.
I was watching the news early in the morning before work seeing the horrible flooding in Boulder, CO. Roads being washed away and three dead by 8am. A terrible tragedy so early in the day.
You see, in Denver we don’t have heavy rain and especially not for days. In August/September there might be a few evening showers but nothing bad. We’d expect more fire threats than water. Flooding usually comes from the mountain runoff in the Spring when the mountain snow starts to melt. I even joked that morning that we Coloradans don’t own galoshes, so what do we wear with 3 inches of water on the ground? Flip flops of course!!! (plus rolled up pants) until you get to where you are going.
But as the day went on, I got a call in the early afternoon that my apartment building had flooding on the first floor and in the parking lot so they turned off the power. But after seeing videos of streets near my apartment I started to worry. I started texting friends as a back up plan just in case it got worse.
I tried looking online to find any information I could. My anxiety was rising by not getting any information. I couldn’t even find street closures near my house. Then I randomly decided to click on the link on 9news where they were asking people to upload their flood photos. The 6th one in, I found this…. The red circle is my window.
I knew I was fine in regards to my apartment and my material objects would be fine. It was just something that I hadn’t experienced and started to worry about my cats and dog. After finishing a busy day of work and trying to stay focused, I went to the bar to calm down and come up with a plan of attack once I made my way home since the power was out.
At the bar I received this email and called immediately.
I broke down crying in the bar after finding out that my apartment was evacuated and I wasn’t allowed in without calling the fire department. My fur babies… My clothes… My medication. I called mom and asked for help. I already had a tub to empty my refrigerator because of the power outage but it was just a matter of getting my pets out. Before I called the fire department (because luckily my family knew some) I would see if I could get to the stairs, even if it took a canoe to get there (yes, that was actually a back up plan. The joys of my mom being a boy scout troupe leader).
Just to give some perspective on how much rain we received – it was 11.5 inches. We normally receive 14.92 ANNUALLY! That’s 77% of our yearly rain in one day.
Luckily I was able to access my apartment without issues or the need of the fire department. Packing up animals and suitcase for at least 5 days by candle light and cell phone flashlights. Carrying a candelabra from one room to the next while the sun continued to set.
My mother and brother were a huge help! They took food and cats. I was able to spend the night at Michael’s house with a stressed Neela who couldn’t figure out what was going on. I dropped her off at Steven’s the following morning before work to hang out with his Chi Chi boys, Moco and Lobo, and Steve’s father. I was soooo thankful to have friends and family willing to help me out in a time of need. The day of work went well (apart from dealing with the crappiest part of being sick with a cold) and then it was just a waiting game of when I would be allowed in.
I was one of the lucky ones. I was able to be back into my place the next night and no longer feeling homeless. It was the first floor that was still prohibited from even being in their apartment. As I struggled to carry most of my heavy items up the stairs, I watched families sweeping water out of the apartment, gathering clothes in plastic bags and attempting to air out wood furniture in the breeze way.
It wasn’t until this morning that it really hit me. I broke down crying – my heart couldn’t take it anymore. Forget the stupid news and watching others far away go through issues, I had them sitting and staring at me in my front lawn. Children’s toys and other personal sentimental belongings, now described as debris, scattered throughout the grass and sidewalk. Trucks upon trucks being loaded with large items like couches and undamaged furniture. Friends helping out family – loading into the U-Haul or unloading into the dumpster. I felt the need to help. I wanted to help but I had plans to meet Luisa for a quasi birthday get together. Even spent the morning finishing her present (which I don’t think she was that excited about and feel I failed in the BFF department). It’s an adult bouquet – but I love the jug as the vase, I hope she likes it and can use it for sangria or something!
Upon my return, after getting my cats and frozen food from my mom’s house, I was ready to help my neighbors out with whatever they needed however just 20 minutes beforehand the pain started shooting from the middle of my back and spread like wildfire to my neck, head and lower back. You see, I was rear ended in a car accident a few weeks ago and though my car wasn’t badly damaged, apparently my body was. I am thankful for my chiropractor that recommended me to a fellow doctor within the same practice that is going to do a full work up with x-rays and possible laser therapy but my appointment was the same day of the flood and with my stress level through the roof, I had to postpone. It was when I broke down in tears, holding my back, and in front of my mother – she wouldn’t allow me to unload the car without help. She even offered narcotics for the pain, which later I really wish I would have taken her up on as the OTC stuff, patches and ice packs are not helping.
Though the day started off so bright and sunny, it was so hard to process what I was seeing. Yesterday I was celebrating not being homeless while my neighbors were being forced out of their living spaces. It was upsetting that it took an event like this for me to finally meet some of my neighbors, asking them how they were handling everything. When men were loading heavy furniture into the beds of trucks and struggling, I wanted to jump in and help out – my physical injury preventing me from doing so.
My mother and I took a walk around the complex just to see the damage. While I didn’t take pictures of the buildings where you can see how high the water line was. 1 to 2 feet up the building walls with waves as high as 6 feet, proven by left over leaves and pine needles still stuck to the brick, there was a team of workers standing by ready for the repair after the devastation.
and 10 minutes later there was this…
I am eternally grateful for family and friends who offered me help in a time in need. Friends such as Audi (from my bar family) who I haven’t seen in months, called me up (not texted or Facebooked me) and offered a place to stay. Michael and Steven, both ex’s and but now friends, willing to take me and my pets in when I needed it and of course my mother and brother for helping with the dirty work (especially dealing with my bitchy cats). I was offered a sincere offering of help, not the superficial “let me know if you need anything” – but meanwhile the person is thinking “please don’t call”.
What I am asking for now are prayers. Prayers for my neighbors that they are ok and that they will get through this. That they will survive, thrive, and even possible abound from this misfortune. Not sure if my tears are from my personal physical pain or the emotional encounter with such hard ship but it was enough for me to have the need to write.
Pray for Colorado. For those affected by this unexpected storm that has caused more damage than we ever would have expected. That roads don’t take anymore lives with them and people who still may be in danger, can stay safe. For pets that have survived may find their owners and families to be able to move forward now and can begin to rebuild.
Round two has started today and this weekend – they don’t expect it to be bad but in case it is – please pray. Think of those that need help. Whether it is help lifting a dresser or even being able to safely leave their house or street. That they have insurance to cover the damage. This is life truly unexpected.