The storm that caught all of us off guard is continuing to kick our asses. We aren't knocked out, but we're definitely on our knees with some pretty nasty black eyes. You know, the kind that waste no time and bruise right away...
The flood waters have reached over 200 miles so far and have devastated 17 counties, mine being one of them. The loss of life, of land, and of property is heartbreaking. 19,000 homes have been damaged and just over 1,500 of those are completely destroyed.
President Obama declared Boulder County, El Paso County, and our county of Larimer in a state of emergency on the 13th of September and a few days later added 12 more Colorado counties.
I haven't made it to Boulder, which was hit the worst getting 21 inches of rain in 6 days. Boulder Creek officials reported they had more than 5000 cubic feet of water per second when the average runs between 150 - 200.
I have had a chance to drive around certain parts of Larimer County to check out the damage and it is absolutely awful. Fort Collins sits on the banks of the Cache La Poudre River and just to the South of the Big Thompson River, both which have received catastrophic flash floods.
I was able to find a handful of pictures taken from the News and other websites to show the damaged spots which our family has close ties to.
In April, I surprised my husband with a weekend away in Estes Park. One of the top five things I wanted to do was visit the world famous Saint Malo Church hidden in the valley between Estes and Allenspark.
Although the church itself received minimal damage, the run off from the water left the valley wiped out.
The very first day our family arrived in Colorado after our move from California, we drove directly from the airport to the Alluvial Fan in Rocky Mountain National Park. It is a place I have very fond memories of as a kid and wanted to make the same for my own child.
One of her favorite things was to sit by the bridge and throw rocks in the water.
The bridge is now partially missing and was tossed half way down the mountain onto its side.
I've spent more time wandering the streets of Estes Park than any other town. I've literally spent more time here than the downtown of Fort Collins. Something about its small town charm and the mom and pop shops make it worth the long drive up the canyon and we come at least once a month.
My friend Marsh Blake owns Blake Trading, the store on the far right. She sent me this pic to show the water mark on her store front. Notice the water is lapping over the bench in the middle-left of the picture. She had 4 inches of mud that had to be shoveled from her carpet once the water receded and thousands of dollars in damage to merchandise and displays.
In January, I took Kalynn up the canyon for the Estes Park Winterfest so she could ride the ponies, get her face painted, and watch the balloon animals be constructed.
The same parking lot is straight mud now.
When Jason got his Colorado fishing licence, the very first place he wanted to fish was Lake Estes.
It is so filled with debris, it's almost unrecognizable.
My favorite view in the entire state is completely destroyed.
Although put on the highest priority, there are so many spots on Highway 34 that are missing, it could take a year to repair.
A few months ago, I wrote a post about the little town of Glen Haven and how the tiny general store makes the best fresh cinnamon rolls I've ever had in my life.
Glen Haven was one of the worst to get hit. The Town Hall is collapsed, the general store is gutted, the fire department is completely gone, not even it's bare structure was left standing.
The roads were washed away. The empty hole on the left is where the fire department used to stand.
Kalynn's favorite spot to watch the creek and climb in the Indian tee pee didn't survive.
Now it is just a pile of broken trees and a spot for washed up remains to be collected.
At the bottom of Highway 34 where the canyon meets Loveland, is the Dam Store. The best store by a dam! Its tall structure in the back of the building sits just high enough to climb all the way to the top and see not only the highway 34 damn, but also the brown water pipe that runs through the Front Range and part of the Rockies.
The pipe is still standing strong, but the highway itself is missing. The debris that has traveled from the devastated cabins, homes, hotels and businesses all the way up the canyon is now piling at the bottom of the foothills.
As for my beloved Dam Store, they're still mostly intact! The back end of the building was taken off, but I've heard unconfirmed reports that the staircase tower and the front room of the store are still there.
Up the Poudre Canyon, closest to Fort Collins, the damage is unfortunately just as bad. The road we travel to go camping is devoured.
Unfortunately, most of them were head deep under water when the were found the morning of September 13th.
We may require a little love, but we won't be held down for too long.
We've seen the sun poke through the clouds this last few days and it is reaching down with a helping hand to help us back up again.
Yes, we'll be ok. We're strong.
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