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Facing the Flood

It all began on Wednesday evening, around sundown, when the rain started dumping. Forget cats and dogs, this was lions and bears. I was heading back from a friend’s house and remember thinking that the raindrops were so big and coming down so hard that it felt more like hail than rainfall. After being outside for only about a minute I was as drenched in water as if I’d just climbed out of a swimming pool. The heavy rain kept up and continued throughout the night and all the way through Thursday.

So far, we’ve recorded six to eight inches of rainfall and nearly every waterway in Boulder County has surpassed its banks, causing surges of water to flow into the streets and over bridges. Emergency alerts have been sent out to the residents of four Colorado counties, warning citizens to stay off the roads due to instability. Throughout Boulder County, flood sirens as well as sirens from police and fire trucks have become a familiar and continuous sound over the last two days and nights.

In Boulder County alone, dozens of roads have closed down and some have been entirely washed out by the storm. Numerous homes have been flooded and many have collapsed leaving residents trapped or stranded. This morning, The National Guard sent about 100 troops into Lyons to help evacuate residents from a city that has been completely cut off by the weather, with no sewer service, clean water, and often, no electricity. Lyons is so far the third city in Boulder County, after Jamestown and Eldorado Springs, to be evacuated. Unfortunately, due to the heavy debris and damaged roads, rescuers have had difficulty reaching these areas and helping victims.

According to CNN, there have been three deaths reported so far. Two occurred in Boulder County and one in El Paso County. Approximately twenty other people in Boulder County have been reported missing or unaccounted for.

County offices, buildings, schools and the University of Colorado were closed down on Thursday, and the university was also closed down today and will be closed tomorrow as well. Approximately 40 buildings at the university have sustained some damage. Fortunately, however, there have been no injuries on campus.

Boulder County sheriff Joe Pelle has advised that the 305,000 residents of Boulder County should try to avoid traveling at this time and that instead they should stay at home and indoors. “This is no day to travel,” he said, according to CNN, “It’s a good day to hunker down and watch the news and find out what’s going on.”

I live on Grove and 17th just below the Boulder Creek and decided, despite the sheriff’s advice, to walk around my neighborhood this morning and see how everything had held up. The roads were caked with a thick layer of mud, and I nearly lost my shoe on several occasions. Walking down the street I passed many people diligently scraping mud off their driveways and dumping buckets of water off of their properties, and some of them were even whistling as they worked! This morning felt quite different from the day before; the rain had disappeared, the clouds were clearing and the sun was shining through. Unfortunately, meteorologists predict that there may be some more rain today and throughout the weekend, but walking around this morning with the sun beaming, I couldn’t help but feel hopeful and optimistic.

On Thursday afternoon I asked Korey L, a student, what his experience had been with the rainstorm and floods. He told me, “I woke up to a text from my cousin in Texas asking if my house had been flooded. My other family members were also contacting me to see if I was okay throughout the day.” He added, “Then I went outside and people were just out jogging and doing their everyday routines like it was no big deal.”

This just goes to show the unbeatable spirit of Boulder and its residents. We won’t let a natural disaster like this shake our optimism and as soon as the rain clears, Boulder County will be more than ready to work hard and rebuild.

Stay dry and stay safe!

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