When Water Attacks

Okay, that title is meant to be funny. The flood we just had in Colorado, however, was not.

I got a text from the University of Colorado – Boulder (where I work) at around 3 a.m. Thursday morning stating that campus was closed because of the huge amounts of rain we’d been getting. I literally said, “Hell yes!” and snuggled down deeper in my bed. An hour later my friend Sally called to ask if I’d received the reverse 911 call that my neighborhood was under an evacuation watch. Huh? That woke me up real quick. Her husband Andy works about 1/2 a mile from my house and had gotten the call.

See, the St. Vrain creek is south of my house by about three blocks. And the fact that we’d received so much rain so quickly was causing all bodies of water to swell immensely.

So, I got up, looked out the window, shrugged, packed a few things (mostly toiletries) just in case, and went back to bed. But it was fitful sleep as I kept getting texts and calls with updates about the situation.

Around 10:30 a.m. I ventured out to go check out the situation. I walked down to the creek and saw this:


Yikes! But, still a good two blocks from my house. However, in the time I was standing there, I watched a parking lot north of the creek (and towards my house) go from bare asphalt to over a foot of water in 10 minutes. I decided to go talk to the guy (Dan) who owns the house I live in and who occupies the first couple of floors. We checked things out, talked about the flood plane, the likely path of the water, etc. and were feeling pretty good until we noticed that the culvert just slightly down from our house wasn’t properly doing it’s job and that water was rushing up towards the house.

Essentially, the situation went from, “Aw, we’ll be totally fine” to, “Um, I think we might be screwed” in about 45 minutes.

To make a long story as short as possible (sorry folks), my friend Sally came to help me move stuff out of the basement. Andy was a willing helper, he just couldn’t get to me because all the north-bound streets around me were flooded.

As Sally was coming in my house, I engaged a woman and her two sons in a quick conversation asking about the state of the creek, which they’d just been checking out. She asked me if they could help us move stuff and I hesitated for a second, not wanting to burden anyone else, especially a stranger, with my stuff. But panic made me say, “If you’re willing, I’ll certainly not turn down the help.” Between the five of us, we had my place in pretty good shape in less than 45 minutes.

As she was leaving, I tried to get her contact info so I could properly thank her and she would barely give me her name. “Pay it forward,” was all she said. I was choked up when I hugged her and her sons, thanking them for their help.

And then Sally and I left. With the house a mess:

My stuff in Dan's dining area.

My stuff in Dan’s dining area.

My stuff in Dan's living room.

My stuff in Dan’s living room. Yes, my TV is old and huge.


My bedroom a shambles.

Later Andy and I went back to put my furniture up on blocks and take a load of plywood to Dan who wanted to board up the windows. When you arrive at your house to this out front, it’s a tad unsettling:

IMG_20130912_171625 (1)

We found the flood waters dangerously close:

The water was right at our fence and, approximately, 15-20 feet from the back of the house.

The water was right at our fence and, approximately, 15-20 feet from the back of the house.

So Dan and Andy got to work:

Dog door all boarded up.

Dog door all boarded up.

Caulking the plywood to the window frames.

Caulking the plywood to the window frames.


Dan at work.


Andy surveying the scene.

And then we left again, hoping the still falling rain would cease.

Sally and I went back the next day to pick up some more clothes. Some how I’d managed to bring the oddest assortment of stuff with me the day before:

  • ALL my toiletries, which I had packed the night before. I’m telling you, I could have been made up for a wedding.
  • The clothes on my back (additional clothes were not a priority when there were more important things to get out of harms way).
  • Five pairs of underwear. No additional socks. I’m just glad I had a bra on, or that wouldn’t have made it either, I imagine.
  • My horrible looking bogs, a pair of moccasins I never wear, and my slippers. By God, I got my slippers, people!
  • My cellphone charger and a few odd photos that I grabbed on the way out the door.

It’s odd the things you don’t think about when you’re rushing around like that. The only thing I cared about in that bag was the photos, honestly.

I was back in my place Saturday despite the fact that the forecast was calling for rain all weekend. The flood waters behind my place had receded a ton, so it seemed like an okay idea. But then I was concerned about ground water coming up through the foundation, in through the walls, or up through the plumbing because the water table had risen so much. But all’s well.

Bottom line – I’m really lucky. There are thousands of people who weren’t. I really feel for them.

See what I mean? So, so sad.

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