Last weekend, we went up to Estes Park on the newly repaired highway, one year after the flood. The city was jammed with people, all of the businesses appear to be up and running, and it almost looks like nothing ever happened. Of course, we all know what these towns have been through, and how some towns, like Lyons, still have houses up on jacks while they repair the basements. Some of the houses are now permanently on stilts. My own city is busy building flood mitigation systems everywhere. My friends who were displaced have finally moved home.
On the way home, we decided to take a new road. We thought it went home, but it didn’t; we ended up driving down the Big Thompson Canyon, which is an incredibly gorgeous drive. However, here, the damage is still visible. The original highway lies at the bottom of the river, and debris is still wound around the trees, at least the ones that remain. Many of the houses slid down the banks. One of the most stunning images was a house hanging off the edge of the land, torn free by water, with a washer and dryer dangling by cords over the river. Most of the furniture lies scattered on the riverbed.
Banners hang on the canyon walls, reading Thank you hard hat angels! The most touching sign was spray painted on a rock in the river itself in bright blue. Thank you for saving my life.
Even though things are being rebuilt, people still watch the skies with trepidation. We’ve had some hard rains, and immediately people start talking about the flood. Will it happen again? Are we ready? Would the cities suffer as much this time? The sound of heavy rain keeps me up at night, wondering. Worrying.
Today, they’re talking about our first snowfall. We may wake up to snow, and then warm dry weather the day after that. I know in time the worries about floods will dissipate. I know in time I won’t tense up when I hear the EBS go off. But right now, I’m sitting here looking at the clouds outside, remembering standing at the window, watching the rain for hours. I remember seeing the cars smashed, the railroad tracks buckled, the child’s toys jutting out of the mud, my friend’s ruined house. Thankful that tonight all I had to do was cover my tomatoes and roses. Thankful for how quiet it is outside.