I was home with my daughter that Thursday afternoon. Kept her home because of the conditions. My husband was in Denver on his way home. I received a emergency notification that a mandatory evacuation order was in effect. Shortly thereafter, we had officials knocking on our door telling us we should leave, but they couldn’t make us. I told them my husband was on his way home – and we’d make our decision then.
Mistake #1: ASK questions!
When my husband came home, we went for several walks, noting the water rising and even breaching the ponds across the street. Our daughter wanted to leave – we weren’t getting a clue.
Mistake #2 Read the signs, stupid!
We went to bed, but not before packing 3-day bags for us and a bag for our four mini dachshunds. Right before we fell asleep, we were awoke by a fire engine and crew going house to house. Before we could get a light on, they drove by ours.
Mistake #4, We Didn’t Leave Then!
About 3:30 a.m. I woke up to water roaring. I got up quickly and went to our south bedroom window. My mouth went instantly dry – there was a rushing, mighty river flowing between our house and our neighbors to the lake behind us. I quickly woke my husband, telling him he had to see this. Even now as I write, a knot is developing in my stomach! We went downstairs and looked around – our house was completely surrounded by water. We were scared, and the water was rising in our den – a ground floor room on the main floor, and rushing about the rest of the house outside. As I stood, shocked, staring at the water coming up – I clearly heard, ” You need to get out now”.
I went upstairs to tell Al and we woke up our daughter – telling her we made the wrong decision. (she had wanted to leave all along). We dressed, put on good shoes, grabbed life jackets which we had on the patio for our boating activities. I actually strapped one of the two dogs I needed to carry in mine. We put on our packs, collared and leashed the dogs, Al grabbing one, Maggie one and me two.
The word was if you lose your footing drop the dog if you have to but hang on to the leash.
As soon as we stepped off of our patio, walking toward our shop, about 150 feet, the water was knee deep. We knew immediately there was no getting our Xterra out of the shop. The current was moving, but not too fast as there were fences on both sides of us, slowing the current down. Once we reached the shop, the water got deeper and faster. We walked in a line, me, Maggie, Al, with everyone holding on. There was enough ambient light that we didn’t need our flashlights. “baby steps!” Al kept saying as we marched through 30″ deep fast water toward the locust tree near our chicken house, about another 150 feet. The footing was good and no debris in the water. Once we got to the tree, we were standing in a protected eddy, and caught our breath, and talked the plan – walk along the chicken yard fence to the edge by the road. Easier and we had the fence to grab if we needed it. 35 feet more and we were almost to the road.
I was leading and there was quite a wave coming off the water as it ripped over the road and down the small grade. I stood there for a few seconds as it was intimidating. Then we walked directly west through the wave, up the small grade to the middle of the road. The water was then below our knees and we began to walk north on our road S. CR 9E, about another 300 feet and the water got shallower and slower as we slopped along.
We were out, we were safe. We put our leashed dogs down. (none of whom moved an inch while we trudged through the water) Then our 16 year old daughter, Maggie, read us the riot act. We hugged her, kissed her and deeply apologized for not evacuating the night before. She had every reason to be angry and scared. She wasn’t rude, but she was right.
Mistake # 4- infinity, need I list more?
I then made a phone call to a friend who lived nearby and offered a place to stay, before we tackled walking up SCR 9E/Sculptor Dr. through the deep mud of a road being redone. At the top our friend was waiting and we gave him our packs and said we’d walk the half mile in the rain to their house. We were soaked and covered in mud, and needed to de-stress some, too.
I realize there are a lot more serious stories than ours, people lost their homes and lives. I don’t think many people expected the kind of water that we saw. Inconceivable is my word. And I do know what it means.
We are very fortunate to have gotten out safely, and I can guarantee that in the future, we won’t take it lightly when an evac notice comes in. I hate learning lessons the hard way.
We had a lot of damage to our shop and contents, none to contents in the home, but we have to replace 40% of our flooring in the den, kitchen and little in the living room. Plus the wall repair and cleaning bill. Our outside fence/yard/driveway damage is extensive and will take time to repair. Whatever we are going to do, it will be redone with water in mind.