“Most people had just a few minutes to grab photographs and other remembrances before they had to evacuate,” says Dave Gabrielse, a Rapid Response volunteer in Colorado. “Their basements were filled with water and often the second level of their home was inundated as well. Many lost all of their keepsakes and memories from the past.”
“Most people had just a few minutes to grab photographs and other remembrances before they had to evacuate.”
World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS) deployed Gabrielse and five other Rapid Response volunteers from Michigan and Ontario to Longmont, Colorado, after 17 inches of rain overwhelmed area cities and towns there during the third week of September.
Many residents in and around Denver, Boulder, and Colorado Springs, Colorado, were stranded by washed-out roads and bridges or moved to safe locations during days of torrential rain that stalled over the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. The town of Lyons, with a population of about 7,000, was entirely evacuated, and many homeowners lost every possession they owned. Ten people were killed, and about 200 more remain missing.
As the rain fell last month World Renew DRS Area Representatives Walt and Carol Ackerman, who live nearby, were monitoring the flooding and rescue efforts as they unfolded. Then, Early Response Coordinators Fred and Mary Visser arrived to quickly make connections with homeowners and start the assessment process. Over the next days and weeks, the receding flood water slowly revealed the extent of the damage done to homes and buildings.
“The Rapid Response Team in Colorado helped residents with initial clean up and debris removal,” says World Renew DRS director Bill Adams. “They stayed at The Journey Church in Longmont, where Pastor Rick Ebbers and church members provided them with hospitality and support, including lodging and meals.”
Longmont is a town of about 88,000 residents situated at the neck of the St. Vrain River and Lefthand Creek. The Vrain overflowed its banks and ran through most of the populated areas of Longmont. Gabrielse and the other team members also worked in the devastated village of Lyons, joined by volunteers from neighboring churches.
“We mudded-out flooded houses and dug paths in the mud around the outside of homes to gain access to them,” Gabrielse says. “We pulled out soggy dry wall and insulation, sprayed the wall studs with mold remover, and then applied mold preventative.
These families depend on voluntary agencies like World Renew to help them rebuild...
“Some families were pretty disheartened when our crew arrived. But when we completed the first part of the demolition on their property and checked the structure for safety, they were relieved—they could turn their thoughts to rebuilding their home and work on resuming a more normal life.”
Adams notes that the needs in Longmont, Lyons, and other communities affected by last month’s floods will continue to grow in the coming months. “Insurance settlements and funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will gradually make their way to homeowners, but unfortunately many will still find that they have insufficient resources to fully recover.”
These families depend on voluntary agencies like World Renew to help them rebuild, and even though volunteers have begun assessing unmet needs as a first step in the long-term recovery process, many families will be living in damaged homes for months to come. “We’re thankful for our faithful volunteers who show disaster survivors that in struggle and suffering, there is a God who loves them,” Adams says.
You can help families affected by the Colorado floods through World Renew.
Click Donate at the top right corner of your screen and select “Colorado Floods 2013" from the Disasters - North Amercia category.
Checks marked “Colorado Floods 2013 can be sent to:
World Renew US
1700 28th Street SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49508-1407
World Renew Canada
P.O. Box 5070 STN LCD
Burlington, Ontario, L7R 3Y8
To apply to volunteer with World Renew DRS, contact Becky at 1-800-848-5818 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.