This is going to be a joint post, written by the both of us, about Chris’ birthday and the flood that erupted on his very birthday here in our home of Boulder, Colorado. And it isn’t stopping. As I sit here, I’m watching more rain pour down as it has since 8am. We got a few dry days, but now the rain is here for a while. Where to begin? Let’s just start with Chris’ actual birthday. I’ll be writing most of it, and he will pop in here and there for certain things.
6:30am, Thursday, September 12th. Chris is still sleeping in bed, I need be at work by 8, but I want to go to our favorite bakery and surprise him with croissants. It’s been raining for a few days now, started Monday and worked its way until today. It’s still raining now. I slip socks and crocs on and head out. I get to the bakery but I am kind of dumbstruck and don’t know where to park. The entire right side of the street is flooded. Now this is before we had any flood alerts or thought there was a problem. I turned around and parked on the other side of the street. The bakery was open and I wanted to get him croissants! There was a worker outside and I asked him how to get through it, and he said, “I just got my feet wet.” I still looked for a way, but it was useless. Water was pouring from the north and streaming into the streets. I ended up walking through a foot and a half of water and they had no croissants! Wish I had taken a picture.
A now-famous picture taken by someone at the library
So I get back, wake Chris up, wish him happy birthday and give him breakfast. We turn on the news and see that it’s pretty bad all over. Highways buckling, houses flooding, people trapped. We eat breakfast and open presents, all the while he is communicating with his coworkers. (It’s Chris now) I want to thank everyone for all of the awesome gifts. I’ve always been quite spoiled. I received a gift card to Macy’s, Amazon, and AMC cinemas along with $30 cash. I also got some nice Burberry cologne, a handmade snake-like bottle opener, and a handmade Giraffe head cork wine topper. I was upset with Alana for getting me so much. She got me the newest iPad with a case and keyboard attachment. She also got me two hoodies: one sleeveless one from H&M and a Legend of Zelda one from Woot. I can’t say what I like the most but all of the gifts were very thoughtful and will fit in this household nicely. I am excited as always to use the AMC tickets for two free movies for the two of us. Especially since there are a few movies coming out next weekend that I want to see. Thanks again to everyone for the kind wishes whether it was family or friends.
Back to Alana. The 119 (how I get to work) is flooding and Longmont is bad. Chris and his staff decide to close the shop and he goes to make sure the flood damage is okay. Everyone advises me to stay home, so I do. This is all very new and not exactly sure what to expect. It was nice for Chris to have his birthday off of work, but we felt for everyone suffering. Luckily, our apartment is 3 floors up, and we are on a safer side of town. We didn’t do much that day, played video games and stayed inside.Chris loved being able to do that, since normally we have too much on our plate. We just made sandwiches for lunch and enjoyed the down time.
We get a call around 3pm from one of our good friends who lives a block away. He is driving home from Littleton (highways are an absolute mess) and his wife and kid are at home with a flooded bedroom. We run to get the shop vac and bring it over to their place. They were the lucky ones. The western building of their apartment complex got completely flooded with 2 feet of water. We immediately begin to vacuum the carpet out which is saturated and getting worse. A battle we can’t win against the pelting rain coming at us. By the time our friend gets home, we have already dumped out 32 gallons of water.
Pouring out gallons of water
Kicking up water
We knew we couldn’t suck up all the water so we go outside and decide to dig a trench away from the windows and then use the mud to create a barrier. It was messy, wet work, but it did give some layer of protection.
Those rainboots ended up having holes in them…surprise!
Packing as fast as we can
After we finish up, we wash the mud off in a flooded street. We go inside for a little bit more clean-up. Chris is bummed so many places are closed. I had this elaborate plan for the day, that I would take him out for lunch, that after work we would workout and then surprise him with China Gourmet and a birthday cake. Nope, not gonna happen. However, one of our most favorite places in town was miraculously open. They know us well at Korea House and invited us with open arms. We were soaked, muddy, and tired, and this meal invigorated us. We got a fixed menu with beer, bulgogi, korean soup, soups, salads, and mochi ice cream. Because it was Chris’ birthday and because the chef loves us that much, he served us with a big beautiful plate of some of the most flavorful sushi I’d ever had. He also gave us a large bottle of hot sake and another beer for free. Happy Birthday, right? It was just what we needed to bring our spirits up. We told them if they needed a place to stay (they live in Longmont), that they could always come to us. We left happy and it was pouring harder than ever.
Korean birthday feast
We get back safely, though main streets are flooding. We play some more video games for a while and then we get into bed. Things are only getting worse. Chris passes out, but my stomach is in knots. So before I continue, let me just tell you about the wonderful Twitter #boulderflood. Online news can’t do enough. I have been on the #boulderflood this entire time, getting minute-by-minute updates from news agencies, emergency agencies, and real-life people struggling in the flood. It has been an absolutely amazing resource, I still follow it now. So as I’m lying in bed, reading the #boulderflood hashtag, things start getting worse. The Emerson Gulch has broken and now a 30-foot wall of water is heading straight for the Creek. I know college kids can be drunk and stupid and people reported seeing some near the creek, fooling around. I stress about their lives. About how the death toll might rise. After a few hours, I finally get to sleep, only to dream more about the flood and wake up too much. Here are pictures from the house we house-sat at:
Beginning of the day
End of the day…that used to be a back yard
Friday. Despite only a few hours of sleep, we wake up semi-early. The rain has stopped and light can be seen. We stay inside for a bit and then decide to go venture out with Marga and Michael to see the damage. The “unaccounted-for” toll has risen to around 130. There is a lot of debris everywhere, but things are drying up. Mud is the problem since there were massive mudslides the previous night. I hear Lyons is an island and Longmont is incredibly flooded. The YMCA where I work at is closed. Our old street (we just recently moved) got flooded and now instead of pavement, it is a mud street. Our previous neighbors are carrying buckets of mud-water out of their house. It is all mucked up. We continue on for about 5 miles total, seeing the damage. But we don’t even go to the bad area, we get tired and head back.
Our old street
a parking lot nearby
Goose Creek where I run next to
The creek rose to ridiculously high levels
We end up going to the gym, finding a bit of normalcy in our recently turned-upside down life. After a great shoulder workout (my traps are still sore!), we head back home. More video games. We are happy for the lack of rain. I can even see a star or two. We also watch From Up on Poppy Hill, the newest Miyazaki film. We go to bed around 2am.
Saturday. Another dry morning! Evacuations continue at a much higher rate now. The National Guard is here and you can see and hear the military helicopters going here and there every minute (no exaggeration). Our friend (with the flooded bedroom) invited us to go play frisbee golf as we often do on Saturdays. Sure, why not! Well, half the course had some bad flooding, but that didn’t stop us. Afterwards, we went to Glacier (our favorite ice cream joint here) and Chris finally got his free ice cream (because it’s his birthday). We go back to the apartment for a little bit and then head out to the gym for a good chest workout (yes, my pecs are sore). As the day continues, formidable clouds begin to form. We come back, watch Castle and play video games. And have mac n cheese and ramen for dinner, good comfort food.
And now it’s Sunday. Still raining strong. Flood alerts are back. Road closures are back. Unaccounted-for toll is up to 530 people. Tragic stories on the news. I hope I can get to work tomorrow. And I truly hope everyone stays safe. I wish I could reach out and help more people, but it’s hard to get to most people right now. Chris certainly had a birthday that nobody will forget. I will stay vigilantly attached to the #boulderflood to stay in touch with everyone and all events. Please send good energy this way. And some dry weather. And despite all these horrible events, everyone reaches out to each other to help. That is what is keeping spirits up, when everything else is gone. Stay hungry and fit!
BONUS KITTY PIC
Nymeria staying warm