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By Chris Allan and Karen MacClune

“By 6 AM on Thursday morning, there was a huge river of water flowing through main street, where the two rivers in town had become one about a quarter mile wide,” said one Lyons resident.

“By mid-morning Thursday a footbridge in town was gone, and cars were washed down river. The town was cut off into six islands, and no one could move between them.” Gas, electricity, and water were all cut off, and only the National Guard could get in and out of town in their amphibious vehicles. “The Town staff organized the evacuation center. Victoria, our Town Administrator, was fantastic. The Town board did a lot, and the fire department did a lot. The Town just took care of itself.”

“Store owners and restaurants just opened up. People cooked on camp stoves, propane grills. On Thursday and Friday the town did big street parties. Every island did the same. People were eating all the perishables before they went bad. I volunteered at the evacuation center on my island, just doing what needed to be done.”

“Everyone in town knew each other, at least in passing. It’s a small town. Some people from the mountains had to hike down, they would show up at the evacuation center after 12 hours of hiking. People would see someone they knew and had been thinking about, and would burst into tears. But people for the most part were in remarkably good shape.”

“By Saturday, the water was down enough to drive out. High clearance vehicles could get out in morning, anyone by the afternoon. Getting out was weird. We had been so cut off, it was very strange to come out and go to grocery store in Longmont. There was power, people were living their daily lives…In Lyons, it was a disaster zone, it was all about helping people in need. It was hard to leave that.”

“When we evacuated we arrived at a church shelter. We pulled up, and guys came out with umbrellas and said “welcome”. It was sweet. But it was also the first time I felt like a victim, it didn’t feel good. We had been sent there to register with FEMA, as soon as we realized FEMA wasn’t there we turned around and went elsewhere.”

“If we’d had to stay, it would have been awful. It was so disempowering.”

Video Credit: Jem Moore

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ISET-International is conducting a resilience study of the Boulder Floods of 2013. Looking at systems, people, and legal and cultural norms, the study is assessing what worked, what didn’t, and what needs to be improved to prepare for shocks and stresses in the future. The study is being funded by The Rockefeller Foundation and the American Red Cross. If you or someone you know has a story that could inform our research on ways to improve resilience in response to the Boulder Flood, please contact flood-resilience@i-s-e-t.org.

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