My three kids and I had been stuck in the house for two days and then stranded in our neighborhood for the better part of a day because of flooding and rain.
I was tired of watching flood coverage on the TV and Twitter and not seeing this historic event for myself. I loaded my three kids into our truck and drove two blocks south, down the hill towards the St. Vrain River in our hometown of Longmont, Colorado.
We joined a small crowd of people at 1st Avenue, gawking at the river, no longer the quaint, barely bigger than a stream that we were used to. It had swelled, overrun its banks and was running through town, at least three blocks wide, flooding basements and businesses, destroying miles of the creek path, homes, a bridge, parks, and cars. My kids and I watched the river run through town, literally as far as we could see in three directions.
Our family came through the flood with only minor inconveniences–school closed for a week, the bridge we drove over daily washed out, my usual running paths destroyed or flooded, traffic on the good roads increased, unable to get far enough south to see friends or for the kids to do their sports. Several friends and coworkers had major flooding in their homes, were evacuated and unable to return home, or were unable to leave their town because a major road was out.
As the flooding receded, the most important question for my kids was if they’d return to school. I could honestly say to them, “Lord willing, and the creek don’t rise.”
About two weeks later, the federal government shut down. More inconveniences followed. I couldn’t do the majority of my work submitting research grant proposals because websites were down. Rocky Mountain National Park closed, and with the closure and the flood damaged roads, we missed seeing the Colorado fall aspens. Between the flooding and the shutdown, so many routines, activities, and routes in my and my family’s daily activities were blocked or slowed that I started to feel penned in.
We are blessed, though, to have the resources and energy to not only rebuild but to know that rebuilding, even if it takes years, is possible if not inevitable. My husband volunteers with an international disaster response ministry. Most of the countries he visits need the international assistance to rebuild, and there are places that may never be the same.
There’s a reason that “we will rebuild and be stronger than before” is a familiar refrain in our country following disasters, natural or manmade.
Though we were penned in in many ways, my family and I found new routes, activities, and routines through the middle of October. We found new paths, a new place to see the aspens next year, time to do other things than schoolwork or work. I felt very much like water itself, blocked here and then finding a new place there to continue moving.
The fact that water is powerful, as a moving force, a cleanser, a path maker, has never been more obvious to me.
We were excited when our youngest son’s teacher finally got to return home to Lyons after two months and when the road between Boulder and Nederland reopened. It never felt so good to run on the Boulder Creek path when it reopened and to see what had changed, what had washed away, and what had stayed the same. The next time I get to use the phrase, “Lord willing, and the creek don’t rise,” I think I might add, “but even if it does, we’ll be as strong as that thar creek, because the Lord is willing.”
Alexa Van Dalsem
Alexa Van Dalsem, a grant writer by trade, writes short stories, poetry, a personal blog and, most recently, short movie scripts. In her free time, Alexa enjoys playing with her family and spending time in the great outdoors of her home state, Colorado. Alexa's short story "Black Leather Shoes" was featured in Ruminate's Issue 01: Chewing on Life
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On September 13, as the afternoon rolled around, I started to feel a little stir crazy.