A flood and a church's response...

Photo Credit: Scott Brooks and The Great Colorado Flood Relief Project, Stephanie Baum As I have written previously, I haven’t blogged in sometime. My last post was about National Coffee Day, if that gives you a snapshot of where my mind has been lately (I need me some coffee).

The reason for this is the area in Northern Colorado where I live was hit hard by flood waters, which the National Weather Service called, “a flood of biblical proportions…”…

The church I am on staff at took a huge role of serving as an evacuation center and now we are in full recovery mode helping our city and the surrounding communities which were affected by the this natural disaster. My role morphed into being involved in helping lead some of the work being done in both the evacuation center and now the recovery phase.

As the days and weeks go on, I hope to write several posts about all we are experiencing and learning as we served our community as an evacuation center and now as a leader in the recovery phase.

Here are a few facts about the flood and what our church and others have done in response to the devastating flood waters:

IMG_4537The Flood...

These are preliminary assessments of damage caused by flooding in Lyons, Jamestown and unincorporated Boulder County.

Homes destroyed: 349

Homes with major damage: 428

Homes with minor damage: 3,426

Commercial buildings destroyed: 4

Commercial buildings, major damage: 33

Commercial buildings, minor damage: 54

Damage to roads and bridges: $89 million

Damage to county buildings: $1.3 million

All told, there were nearly 4,000 homes damaged, not including government buildings, roads, and bridges; with a total price tag of at least $91.2 million. you can read a full article on this assessment here dailycamera.com: Report: Flood damaged 4,000 homes, $91M in infrastructure across unincorporated Boulder County

Photo Credit: Brian Mavis

In the town of Lyons...

  • Out of the 650 dwellings in the town of Lyons, 150 had been either destroyed or badly damaged.
  • The town park was completely destroyed and gone.
  • Highways 36 and 7, the main routes to Rocky Mountain National Park were severely damaged or completely washed away.
  • The town's infrastructure (electric power, gas, water, and sewer) was disabled and wiped out.
  • Almost all of our bridges had been washed away.  The bridges that remained led to nowhere, because the roadways on either sides had been completely washed away.
  • Rivers were re-routed.
  • Longtime elementary school teacher and basketball coach Gerald Boland, perished in the flood.

Paul Williams writes in an article about his experience of the flood, where some of this information was found. I encourage you to read Paul Williams article in the Christian Standard: A View from the Flood. Paul is a Lyons town resident and a member of LifeBridge. His article brought me to tears as I read it.

In the city of Longmont...

The city of Longmont was cut in two by the St. Vrain and Lefthand rivers. By the day's end, the city would evacuate a dozen neighborhoods totaling 7,000 homes, along with commercial areas such as the Harvest Junction shopping center.

Neighborhoods such as the "Greens" and "Southmoore Park" were hit hard by the flood waters. The neighborhoods of the Greens, Champions, and the "Wade Rd. neighborhood area" all in the area that I am neighborhood pastor of.

I have heard countless stories from friends and church family members. I'll never forget one family, after being evacuated from their home in the Greens, showing up at the church to volunteer and help evacuees from Lyons find a warm bed, hot food, and a glimpse of hope.

Phone call and LifeBridge's gymnasium

Photo Credit: Brian Mavis

Around 5:00p.m. on September 12th, as my wife and I stood, crying, and praying with some of our church members in their backyard as we watched the flood waters rush into the Greens (One of the areas in the city of Longmont hit hard by the flood); I received an urgent phone call from one of my fellow LifeBridge staff team members to hurry and come to the church building.

When my wife and I arrived ten minutes later, the proceeding is what followed in the coming hours, days, and weeks...

Initial Response...

  • LifeBridge was in full disaster recovery mode within hours of the initial flooding.
  • Our fellowship hall was beginning to fill up with evacuees from Lyons, who had been brought out on National Guard trucks and school buses, and continued to be so in the coming days.
  • The church's gymnasium housed Colorado rescue workers and the National Guard.
  • The Boulder County Office of Emergency Services was set up at the church building to assist those in need.
  • LifeBridge served as an evacuation center for three counties:  Boulder, Larimer, and Weld.
  • LifeBridge provided many days and nights of shelter to evacuees, fed 10,000 meals to evacuees and first responders, provided safety and wellness checks for 2700 people, and provided hundreds of volunteers giving thousands of hours to the initial phase of disaster response.

Many more things could be listed here. The focus and passion all the staff and volunteers had during these early hours and days of the flood to serve the evacuees was something that I am still trying to digest. I am completely humbled and honored to have served alongside these people.

Photo Credit: Drew Depler

Recovery Mode...

As simple as hitting a light-switch, LifeBridge shifted from an evacuee center to a recovery hub, or so it seemed...

Within ten days of the flood and five days into the recovery phase our church has:

  • Helped complete about 60 home clean-ups.
  • Provided around 2000 volunteer hours toward the recovery phase and this number is growing...
  • Is the spear-heading the clean-up efforts of the businesses in the town of Lyons.
  • Is helping provide relief and resources to the River Church, which is located in the town of Lyons. The church's building, property both land and other resources were destroyed in the flood.

This is just the beginning. As a church, we are humbly committed to the long-term recovery of our community. We know we are just scratching the surface of what lies ahead. We also know that by God's grace we will be able to accomplish the work that He has given to us to do.

I think Brian Mavis, my dear friend and fellow co-laborer in Christ at LifeBridge, summed up what is next for us when he said, "In this second phase of recovery we have been going out to muck and clean and pray and cry" with those whose lives have been upended.

Photo Credit: Drew Depler

Four ways you can help...

1. Monetary Donations for the flood relief can be made at the LifeBridge website: Monetary Donations | LifeBridge Christian Church.

2. If you want to volunteer please click on these links... One link is for basic information about volunteering and flood recovery efforts. Secondly, the other is volunteer and release forms... Information about volunteering and flood recovery efforts. AND Volunteer and Release Forms. *We are not currently coordinating and organizing out-of-town church groups.

3. Please helps become aware of people in need. It is hard to know all who need help. So please help us become aware of this... Click here Need Help?

4. Please pray for the people of our community, our church and other churches, and for the grace of God to be made evident in our community, so that God gets all the glory.