Last year, a full year's worth of rain came down on parts of Boulder County within 48 hours. In the tiny town of Lyons, that fateful storm changed the course of lives forever.
At the cofluence of the two creeks that run through town, the water level rose steadily until the banks were breached, then the water gushed over and just kept coming. The resulting devastation was worse than anyone could have ever imagined.
In no time the entire town was underwater and all 2,100 residents had to be evacuated. With no electricity, phone service or wastewater treatment, the town literally shut down for 6 long weeks. When it was finally safe to return, the aftermath revealed that 20% of all homes in Lyons were completely gone.
In Old Town, the homes that used to stand along the riverbanks stood no more. In a cruel twist of fate, those homes nearest the water were the cheapest in town, owned by people earning half of what homeowners higher on the hill did. Now rents in the area have doubled. With nowhere else affordable to go, 300 residents have left their community, literally unable to return.
Of the remaining homes, some were so ruined that 45 owners have accepted a Federally-funded buyout that will turn their lots into Open Space with no homes at all.
And in order to stay and rebuild, new town laws require that homes be raised above the 100 year flood stage, which is a full 5 feet higher. That alone is an investment that some are unwilling or unable to afford.
Somehow, against all odds, the community of Lyons is feeling hopeful. The town marks the One Year Anniversary this week with events, stories, food, photographs, dedications, priorities, plans, and of course, music.
Watch The Watergirls perform and get a sense of the amazing community of artists and musicians in Lyons, Colorado.
If you are able to donate to help the town along their road to recovery, please click here.