Lyons, Colorado: Returns Attempted as Deaths Hit 8
Kristen M. Foster
Coloradans are attempting to return to homes, some of which are no longer there, as the death toll reaches eight due to severe flooding in the Centennial State. Waters still rage and overrun their boundaries in rivers and canals and the ground is unable to sop up any excess waters as it is already saturated.
The town of Lyons, located in Boulder County about 15 miles north of Boulder, was one of the hardest hit areas. Houses were tossed around like bath toys by the flood waters. Residents were forced to evacuate early as water from St. Vrain Creek about swallowed the town which falls at the meeting of the creek’s two branches. In order to return to the town, residents are required to provide identification and in exchange, are provided travel vouchers from the sheriff’s office to allow them access for one round trip to the town per day, during daylight hours.
Lyons residents surveying the damage today found most of their possessions had been swept away. Abe Vasquez found himself sunk in two feet of raw sewage that had invaded his elderly mother’s home that had survived for 79 years, “Here’s what’s left… That’s her walker.”
Kelly Hunt said in a CNN interview, “Today is our first day up here since we’ve been evacuated and I feel like it’s worse than I thought it would be. We lost absolutely everything we own.”
Almost 6,500 Colorado residents have applied for Federal Emergency Management Agency aid due to the flooding. FEMA reported Tuesday that over $430,000 had so far been approved for individual assistance, including temporary housing and home repairs. Reports count about 18,000 homes around the state that were damaged in the disaster.
Rescuers as of Tuesday were still working to gather residents stranded in their homes and blocked off from escape. Monday numbers counted 215 people airlifted in Boulder County and 420 evacuated in Larimer County. About 600 more are stranded in remote parts of Larimer County. Forecasts are reported to only call for slight chances of an afternoon storm this week, making rescue efforts easier than they had been over the weekend and last week.
“At this point the mission is getting folks down off the mountain, getting them down safely,” Nick Christensen, Larimer County Sheriff executive officer said. Airlift work is now counted as the largest such effort since 2005 with Hurricane Katrina, according to the National Guard.[Video, Image via YouTube.]