Boulder Colorado is over 5,000 feet above sea level. Most families and businesses never considered flooding as a potential threat. In fact, according to FEMA, only 22,000 homeowners in the entire state had flood insurance in place. But 14 inches of rain in 24 hours will cause extreme damage in any community. In the mountains of Colorado, this means rivers and streams have overflowed their banks, mountainsides and roads have washed away leaving miles of devestation in their wake, and many canyons (and the homes in those canyons) are currently only accessible by foot.
In Colorado, cars are stranded on pieces of highway left like small islands, surrounded by devestation where the remainder of the road has washed away. There will be no way to move these cars until the road is rebuilt. In addition to homes, houses and construction equipment being washed away and destroyed by flood waters, the devestation to the infrastructure is hindering efforts to rescue, clean-up and rebuild.
Volunteer firefighters are often the first responders on the scene of any disaster. They are often the last to leave as well. From Boulder, CO, volunteer firefighter Paul Shippey gives his first hand account of hiking into inaccessible areas where the roads had washed away, and helping residents begin the clean up process.
Looking for ways to help? Beware of scams that exploit those who wish to donate money to disaster victims. These scams are an ugly truth in our society, so please give wisely. Choose organizations that are well established with a solid track record. Organizations like the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army and the United Way are on the ground providing assistance – and they have a proven track record for distributing financial donations appropriately.