Anatomy of a Disaster
This is an arid, steep and rocky section of the eastern slope. There isn’t much topsoil covering the mostly decomposed granite substrate. When it rains, the soil is saturated quickly and then, drains out quickly. The power and phone went out in the morning. Flooding was obviously going to happen, but we’d been through floods before, so we spent the day filling sandbags and moving vehicles to high ground.
By late afternoon, looking out the door, we could tell we were really in for it. We moved what furniture we could up a level.By sundown water surrounded the house on both sides and the driveway was gone. When it got dark, really dark with rainy skies and no power, and the water in the house above our knees, we decided to go to bed. What else?? During the night the bulk of the rain fell and the water rose another few feet… we could tell from the water line on the wall the next morning. (the plants in the greenhouse didn’t need water, for months) Outside: devastation. Ponds gone, driveway gone, barn gone, many trees gone. Debris piled against trees left standing. No access to the rest of the world. We were in a state of shock. We had heard that once drywall is wet it is imperative to get it out before mold sets in. Craig wanted to save his motorcycles that were mired in several feet of mud.
We started ripping out drywall and throwing it, the soggy couch and the ruined appliances (except for the refrigerator body) in one of many huge holes courtesy of the flood.Next day the National Guard came to evacuate us, but we decided to stay as we wanted to get moving on clean-up. They were persistent, but we were obstinate. They couldn’t promise when we might be able to return and the thought of hanging out at some shelter while our house rotted just didn’t seem like a good plan. We sat in our car occasionally to listen to news and get an idea of just how devastating this weather “event” had been for many.
We started to see some silver linings in the mess. Our new neighbors were so willing to pitch in and help, and are turning into lifelong friends. The appliances that went into the pit were due for replacement anyway, FEMA stepped up to help everyone, and the pace of recovery was phenomenal.
Crews of helpers arrived from all over the country to help flood victims. At this point we were well aware that our damage was paltry compared to many others. Lyons was still without power and water, Jamestown was nearly wiped off the map, and several homes downstream from us had been torn from their foundations and floated away. We lucked out and got one group of helpers for a day. That many workers make visible progress! In Lyons and the other hard hit areas, these volunteer workers like these from all over the country, made such a difference in the recovery process, in the process giving hope to those hardest hit.
I’ll attach a couple more scenes that greeted us when we finally made it out. It made us very grateful we still had something to repair.Work continues and will for perhaps years, but spirits are good. More will follow about the progress being made.