If you’re paying any attention to the news, you are aware that Boulder, Colorado, where we live, has been hit by epic flooding, the result of over 14″ of rain in the previous 3-4 days. It’s unreal, with houses under water, roads closed, schools closed, and a palpable sense of fear hovering over the entire state of Colorado. Further away we see pictures of towns like Greeley and Loveland, or, closer to home, Longmont and Lyons, that have been just devastated by the ceaseless flow of muddy water.
Everyone in Boulder knows about the flood risk here. We’re the highest risk city in the state for flooding due to our proximity to the mountains and the usually benign Boulder Creek. But even the most pessimistic resident wasn’t prepared for the deluge, the monsoon that has been pounding us for the last few days and we’ve all rapidly transitioned from “rain. excellent” to “more rain? damn.”
With that in mind, I’ve always checked the flood plain maps before I bought a house because, well, you don’t want to be just a few feet of elevation above water level, just in case. (though I never, ever visualized anything half as destructive as what we’re seeing now). My house is just northeast of town, at sufficient elevation to render us spectators to this massive disaster. The worst impact we’ve had is a tiny gutter leak in the basement that’s easily dried up. Thankfully, all three kids were with me throughout the storm, safe and dry.
Less than a mile away, however, the water is quite amazing, as you can see above in the photo I took just up the road. That used to be a major north/south highway that went through a low-lying area. Now it’s a wide, muddy river and impassable.
My ex’s house is fine, but she moved to a place that’s essentially in the middle of the Lyons flood plain, with a creek running through her property. That’s proven a disaster for her land and, more importantly, for the properties around her, some of which are quite literally completely under water and gone. Not “sticking up from the water”, but just… gone. They almost lost their horses too, but the animals had sense enough to swim towards their house when the water was too dangerous for her and her new husband to ford and lead them back to safety. Their other animals? It’s unclear. They are, however, stranded by a bridge collapsing and general road flooding. We can’t get to them, they can’t get to us.
Linda, her new husband and their six horses are all fine, we’ve been chatting on the phone and she’s been emailing us photos of the property (some of which I’m pre-screening to avoid showing the younger children upsetting pics of the devastation just south of their property).
Mom being stranded, combined with the general stress of this calamity and the dramatic changes in our day to day existence and, well, as a family we haven’t been doing very well at all.
Then last night we got this message via email:
To be honest, boiling water to ensure it’s potable is not a huge task and since we have power it’s easy enough to fill up saucepans with water and boil for a few, as I did with a few gallons of water last night, but the added stress is making things even more difficult. The children remain afraid that Mom and “the new guy” might be killed at any moment, but it’s also weird for them to not have school, a break that they’re rather surprisingly ambivalent about. Since we can’t really drive much of anywhere, it’s not like summer where they can have sleepovers and generally go off and have adventures.
Instead, we’re going a bit stir crazy and even as I keep reminding myself of their internal stress level and anxiety about the situation (and my own!) I find that we’re at each other a lot more than normal, that they’re yelling at me and being increasingly rude to me, and that I’m less able to shrug it off as I often do in the interest of familial harmony.
It stinks. Today, at least, we’re going to try and get to the Rec Center so they can run around and get some exercise and I can get in a good workout, but I have to admit I’m a bit taken aback by how difficult things have been going when from the outside it seems like we’ve been blessed to be on a safe island in this disaster, have food, water, a comfortable house with power, Internet and TV.
We just need this bloody rain to stop. Then we can start rebuilding and get back on our feet.