Boulder Flood, part 4: Post-flood anecdotes

Many of the (wooden) doors at work swelled shut in the humidity after seven straight days of rain.  It took two of us shoving and kicking to get our webmistress into her office.  

And condensation on the inside of cars each morning?  Maybe this is something folks in other climates are used to, but it’s rather foreign to us desert-dwelling Coloradans.

I had left my car in a high place where it wouldn’t flood.  Since it was parked on gravel, though, after several days of rain it sunk two inches into the ground.  Tires spun for a second, but she popped right out.

The creek path filled up with thick, glutinous mud.  It wasn’t until I saw all that mud on Sunday night I realized that, with only four weeks until my half marathon, I wouldn’t be able to count on any of my usual running paths.  Not in Boulder, not even most places in Boulder county.

As the mud dried, it was revealed to be a fine, silty sand that got kicked up easily by little gusts of wind or passing cars.

Random small piles of gravel or branches in the medians of roads.

My brakes were making a horrendous noise.  Water had caused the calipers to lock up and they had to be replaced.  The tow truck driver told me he’d been towing cars nonstop.  The guys at the shop said they’d seen car after car being dumped in the towing lot covered in mud.  They were glad to be able to have a car they could fix and return.

As I was walking to work I saw a truck from The Weather Channel set up camp right next to the creek with their cameras.  When I came home I commented that they were right where I had left them that morning.  They asked if I wanted to be on TV; I declined.

I saw a guy yanking smashed fence posts out of the muck and strapping them to the back of his electric bicycle.  He said that they were cedar, and he was going to refinish them and make a table.

When I abandoned my car I left a note on the dash with my phone number.  A random citizen called me on Monday asking if I had been able to retrieve my car.  Thank you, random Boulderite, for checking in on a stranger!

From what I can tell, floodwaters covered my garden by a couple inches.  I checked with a gardener from the farmer’s market, and the best course of action will be to pull everything up and send it to the compost pile.  I’m not mourning, because I’ve certainly had plenty of tomatoes through the summer to enjoy.

After watching this video on youtube, I wondered how all those trees might dam up the creek.  I found a number of trees scattered the length of the creek through Boulder, wedged between bridges and against creek banks, stripped of their bark where the water has pummeled them.  Overall, though, I was shocked how well Boulder Creek absorbed the flood.  Especially considering that the 1894 Boulder flood looked like this.

The Daily Camera had a link on their site of “only in Boulder” flood photos.  As I flipped through them, I thought, “Why do so many people own full-body wetsuits?  This is Colorado, not an ocean-front.”  Then I remembered: triathletes.  #onlyinBoulder

My coworker told me how one day in the middle of the rain he looked out and saw two men running with a dog.  One guy was wearing just shorts, the other guy wearing just a Speedo.  #onlyinBoulder

I walked the creek path and found Eben G. Fine park filled with piles of bull-dozed mud.  Next to them, a guy doing Tai Chi.  #onlyinBoulder

Several days later as the waters went down I saw a guy sitting in Central Park on a pile of newly-exposed flood rubble, meditating.  #onlyinBoulder.

Beyond Eben G. Fine the canyon was closed.  But that didn’t stop a dozen cyclists and runners from logging some miles on a road now free from vehicular traffic.  #onlyinBoulder

On the first day that rains stopped and thing started drying out, there was heavy equipment digging out the creek path.  Coloradans don’t handle cabin fever well and need their paths back pronto.  #onlyinBoulder

As work opened up Monday morning, many folks gathered in the hallway bleary-eyed and dazed, sharing their flood stories.  I was reminded of something that God’s been teaching me over the past few years: everyone has a story.  Everyone has their own personal challenges.  Going through life it’s easy to forget that the nameless strangers you pass in the grocery store aren’t just beings there that just exist to steer your cart around or make the checkout line longer.  Everyone has hopes and dreams.  Everyone has triumphs and tribulations.  Everyone has pain and fears.  And sometimes the most loving thing we can do is listen.  Because most people want to have someone know their stories.  Feel valuable and cared for, and know that they are loved by God and his people.

As my video-game-loving friends might put it, there are no real life NPCs.

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