Reflecting on the Colorado flood

The St. Vrain River, winter, 2013, KGT

The St. Vrain River, winter, 2013, KGT

My sister Leslie and I often walk along the St. Vrain in Golden Ponds, Longmont. On this peaceful day we saw some amazing ice forms created by the river and it’s subtle flow. Little did we know that a few months later, Colorado would experience its worst flood in known history. Life in Boulder County is now changed, as is the life of many of our neighbors, due to the destruction of the unprecedented rains and their effects.

Lafayette Fire firefighters look at the Dillon Road wash out of a culvert where a large natural gas line is exposed from the flooding along Rock Creek on Thursday. September 12, 2013 staff photo/ David R. Jennings

Lafayette Fire firefighters look at the Dillon Road wash out of a culvert where a large natural gas line is exposed from the flooding along Rock Creek on Thursday.
September 12, 2013
staff photo/ David R. Jennings

I saw this scene on the news last Thursday, which told me the days of hard rain have taken their toll. This destroyed road and another closures told me to be careful on my travels to McCall’s Magazine work in Golden. Little did I know, I should have stayed home that day.

Longtime resident Gale Erlewine looks at his cabin that is completely surrounded by the South St. Vrain river near the roadside community of Riverside, about 12 miles west of Lyons, CO. along Highway 7 on September 12, 2013.   He has owned the cabin for over 20 years.  (Photo By Helen H. Richardson/ The Denver Post)

Longtime resident Gale Erlewine looks at his cabin that is completely surrounded by the South St. Vrain river near the roadside community of Riverside, about 12 miles west of Lyons, CO. along Highway 7 on September 12, 2013. He has owned the cabin for over 20 years. (Photo By Helen H. Richardson/ The Denver Post)

Of the many photos and stories in the following days about the flood’s destruction, this one touched me in a particular way. My husband Rob and I have traveled up and down the canyon many times, admiring its quiet beauty, and the homes nestled here and there. There is a feeling of unbelief, as if we are saying, “this can’t be happening.” We hope that Mr.Erlewine can pick up the pieces of this disaster and perhaps make it through.

Brother and sister Patrick Tinsley and Mary Kerns walk into Boulder, Colo.,  from their mountain community Magnolia, where road access is shut off by debris from days of record rain and flooding, at the base of Boulder Canyon, Colo., Friday, Sept. 13, 2013.  People in Boulder were ordered to evacuate as water rose to dangerous levels amid a storm system that has been dropping rain for a week. Rescuers struggled to reach dozens of people cut off by flooding in mountain communities, while residents in the Denver area and other areas were warned to stay off flooded streets. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Brother and sister Patrick Tinsley and Mary Kerns walk into Boulder, Colo., from their mountain community Magnolia, where road access is shut off by debris from days of record rain and flooding, at the base of Boulder Canyon, Colo., Friday, Sept. 13, 2013. People in Boulder were ordered to evacuate as water rose to dangerous levels amid a storm system that has been dropping rain for a week. Rescuers struggled to reach dozens of people cut off by flooding in mountain communities, while residents in the Denver area and other areas were warned to stay off flooded streets. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Flooding on the plains highways

Flooding on the plains highways

I left the magazine workplace in Golden about noon on Thursday after my husband texted me a photo of Highway 52 nearly flooded. I had traveled that road 4 hours earlier and noticed that the East Boulder Creek looked like it had topped off to it’s banks, but it was yards and yards away from the highway. It didn’t seem possible it would spill over to the road from so far away, said my inexperienced self.

The South St. Vrain river is a torrent of raging water along Hwy 7 near the roadside community of Riverside, about 12 miles west of Lyons, CO. along Highway 7 on September 12, 2013.  (Photo By Helen H. Richardson/ The Denver Post)

The South St. Vrain river is a torrent of raging water along Hwy 7 near the roadside community of Riverside, about 12 miles west of Lyons, CO. along Highway 7 on September 12, 2013. (Photo By Helen H. Richardson/ The Denver Post)

This photo of the South St. Vrain River is representative of the power of nature that took its toll on the countryside. I didn’t get out of Denver in time. The roads forced closures of all the exits on I-25, so I ended up in Ft. Collins, way up north. Thank goodness I could crash at my sister’s home there! Deb and Mike took me in and soothed my jangled nerves for 2 days as we watched the news and searched for highways not closed off so I could get home.

I was able to travel back from my sister’s home in Ft. Collins two days later.  I felt a creepy feeling when I went over the St. Vrain highway bridge. The river was still rushing below like this, and not that far below the highway.

Will Pitner is rescued by emergency workers, and neighbor Jeff Writer, left, after a night trapped sheltering outside on high ground above his home as it filled with water from a surge of water, after days of record rain and flooding, at the base of Boulder Canyon, Colo., Friday Sept. 13, 2013 in Boulder.  (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Will Pitner is rescued by emergency workers, and neighbor Jeff Writer, left, after a night trapped sheltering outside on high ground above his home as it filled with water from a surge of water, after days of record rain and flooding, at the base of Boulder Canyon, Colo., Friday Sept. 13, 2013 in Boulder. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

The rescue work is still going on today, so many days later. The Army helicopters are continually heading back and forth, presumably to Estes and Lyons. Our friend in Lyons was told she and her family could get out, but they would not be allowed to return home for at least 3 weeks. (The roads are gone.) So they decided to stay and wait it out, even though they have no power and water. Maybe it’s because they had no plan for their pets and horse to be rescued and cared for, I am guessing? Oh, gosh, what will they do?

Near 3rd and Arapahoe, City of Boulder

Near 3rd and Arapahoe, City of Boulder

This is in the city limits of Boulder, though it looks like it might be in a distant mountain town. My husband’s work place is very near Boulder Creek, and was fortunately up high enough to escape flood damage.

"Mysterious Rapids", detail from a larger painting, acrylic, Karen Gillis Taylor

“Mysterious Rapids”, detail from a larger painting, acrylic, Karen Gillis Taylor

This is a detail from a larger painting I made about 5 years ago. It’s one of those experimental paintings that seem to develop out of nowhere. It has been a puzzling painting to me, but one I keep studying off and on to see what I can learn from it. Now I see things that seem to suggest forces of nature.

"Canyon", digital and mixed media, Karen Gillis Taylor

“Canyon”, digital and mixed media, Karen Gillis Taylor

This is another work I made about the same time. The colors are a bit eerie to me, and I have always thought of it as a night scene. Now I see water and rushing rivers overflowing. These 2 works are suddenly relevant to me.

Brueghel

Brueghel

Rembrandt

Rembrandt

Stormy times are inspirational to painters. These subjects are ones that disturb us, but make us respond and try to work out in paint on canvas.

My family, sister Deb and Mike, where I waited out the return to home during the flood last week

My family, sister Deb and Mike took me in to wait out the return to home during the flood last week

These are all images of troubles and some of hope. We harbor stressful feelings, knowing that our countryside and it’s farmers and families are now in distress.

Dave Jackson closes a mailbox with his foot after delivering the mail to a home surrounded

” Dave Jackson closes a mailbox with his foot after delivering the mail to a home surrounded by water, Colorado Springs area

I can’t help but think of that saying about the mailmen that deliver the mail no matter the weather or circumstances. “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” It’s not just about delivering the mail, it’s about going on with life, despite the troubles, the trials, the obstacles.

I found this explanation on Wikipedia, about how this quotation became an adopted theme after September 11. Maybe it describes the American spirit, and how people here pick up and go on, helping each other get through tough times, eventually reviving inspiration to fuel the creative life.

“In 2001, the USPS created a television commercial edited to Carly Simon‘s song “Let the River Run“.[2][3] The commercial, which ran after the September 11, 2001, attacks and the anthrax mailings, featured no voice over, only the following text interspersed on title cards. A portion of this variation also appeared without citation in the USPS 2001 Comprehensive Statement on Postal Operations (1.A-1):

We are mothers and fathers. And sons and daughters. Who every day go about our lives with duty, honor and pride. And neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, nor the winds of change, nor a nation challenged, will stay us from the swift completion of our appointed rounds. Ever.[4]”
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2 Responses to “Reflecting on the Colorado flood”

  1. Nancy Says:

    So glad you are safely home. Thabk you for sharing your story about the horrible destruction being experienced.

    Like

  2. Caroline Jobe Says:

    so happy that you and yours are ok,
    great that you have painting to express the feelings you experienced, beautiful

    Like

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