Colorado floods: “I saw pianos floating by my house”
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The small town of Lyons, snuggled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, has seen some of the worst flooding in the state of Colorado. Our Observer, a Lyons resident, is one of the few that hasn't evacuated.
Raging flood waters flow through a house in Lyons, Colorado. Screen capture from second video below.
The small town of Lyons, snuggled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, has seen some of the worst flooding in the state of Colorado. Our Observer, a Lyons resident, is one of the few that hasn’t evacuated.
Torrential rains finally let up on Tuesday, after nearly a week of downpour that caused the worst flooding in more than four decades. Colorado authorities said eight people have died in the floods. Several hundred more are still officially missing, but that number is quickly dwindling as rescue personnel reach people living up in the mountains who were until now cut off from communications networks.
At least 16,000 homes have been destroyed throughout several counties. Over the weekend, US President Barack Obama declared the flooded parts of Colorado a major disaster zone, meaning that federal funds will be allocated to the state and local governments to help with the cost of cleanup.
A washed out highway just outside Lyons. Video courtesy of Laura Levy.
“My community has literally gone down the river”
Susie McKenny is a travel agent who lives in the hard-hit town of Lyons. She filmed the destruction there.
My husband and I live in a house built into the side of the mountain, so our home is okay, but the houses down below ours by the river have been completely ravaged. The water just flows right through them.
The view from Susie McKenny’s home on Thursday. She says the waters rose even higher during the weekend.
Many other homes along the river's banks have been washed away. [Local authorities confirmed that 108 homes were destroyed in Lyons]. This river is usually about 200 feet (60 metres) wide; looking at it now, I would say it’s about 900 feet (270 metres) wide!
The authorities made everyone evacuate on Saturday, except for a few like us who were allowed to stay because our homes are on high ground and because we have our own generators and septic tanks, as well as stocks of water. I’m actually planning to leave later today [Tuesday] to bring prescription medecines to neighbours, and once you leave the area they won't let you back in, so I'll have to go stay with my daughter. However, my husband is staying here to look after our house, since we’ve heard some reports of looting.
I’ve lived here 25 years, and this situation breaks my heart. I’m literally seeing my community go down the river. I watch the waters every day and see pieces of houses, cars, people’s pianos, file cabinets – pretty much anything you can think of… All my neighbours’ possessions, just floating by.
This video, filmed right outside Lyons, shows flooded trailers at the beginning, and a car stranded in the middle of the road toward the end. Our Observer says a woman was trapped in that car, but was saved shortly thereafter.
There are lots of older people living here, for whom it will be hard to pick up the pieces. But there are also plenty of younger folks, and Lyons is a very vibrant, close-knit community, so I have no doubt people will want to come back and rebuild. In fact, the few residents who had not evacuated gathered for a town hall meeting on Monday, and we decided that we’re not only going to rebuild Lyons -- we’re going to make it better.