I knew it was going to rain only days after booking a flight to visit Colorado this past weekend. I just didn’t realise how much.
The weather quickly sidelined my plans to take a dirt bike up to an abandoned ghost town, well above the treeline in the Rockies.
Rainstorms are dangerous in the mountains, especially in the high country with no shelter. Instead of going into the woods, my brother-in-law and I drove around the eastern side of the Continental Divide wondering if we were going to get pounded by the black swirling clouds to the west.
Fifteen inches of rain fell before I left Sunday, which would have been about 15 feet of snow had it been colder. The rain has so far killed up to seven people, including two teenagers on their way home from a birthday party in Boulder. Those kids were caught in a wall of water and debris while driving a main road outside the city.
Interstate-25 and I-70 were both closed, making Route 285, where I was staying, one of the only routes east and west through that part of the state.
By Saturday, it was obvious the damage was going to be extreme and we headed to Evergreen to take these photos. Evergreen is about 40 miles south of the town of Lyons, that was totally evacuated and filled with the National Guard.
More than a foot of rain has pounded Colorado in the past several days, with clouds like this filling dry creek beds and canyons with raging walls of water and debris.
By Saturday, the rains falling at higher elevations had left heavy objects like this wooden bench at the top of the local dam in Evergreen, Colo.
At 70-two-hundred feet above sea level Saturday morning, Evergreen was sunny and warm. It’s often like that here when the rains come, and is one reason many don’t take warnings seriously. Precipitation can be happening far up in the mountains but will find its way down to the plains, eventually.
Flood waters in this part of the country come hard and fast, carrying everything picked up from the ground on the way down the mountainside. Boulders, chemicals, and waste will pass through town on the way to the eastern part of the state.
So, on top of the crime scene tape strung all over town …
… the damage to streets …
… the swamping of walkways …
… and the near destruction of their mountain homes …
… the people living in the Colorado mountains have to concern themselves with debris carried in by the waters. Locals said this foam was soap from upstream septic reservoir beds.
Whatever the foam was from, there was a lot of it.
The people here in Evergreen knew they’d been granted a reprieve compared to the more than a dozen towns declared disaster areas by the federal government.
Residents in Evergreen were just doing all they could to help each other out and hoping their luck would continue to last.
Many locals volunteered to help the Evergreen Fire Rescue Department (EFR) Sunday. So many in fact, that the Department tweeted: “Thank you for donations of food but please no more. If you want to help, go to (Station) 2 for sandbagging tonight.”
Another tweet was sent, reading: “Thank you Evergreen neighbours! [The Department] has plenty of help sandbagging.”
Rains in Colorado continue as the national guard and FEMA help the displaced and look for people still trying to get out of the water’s path.
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