As many of you know, I serve a small congregation based in the community of Drake, CO. Drake lies on Hwy 34 about half way between Loveland and Estes Park in Big Thompson Canyon. On Thursday, the Big Thompson River began to rise dramatically through the canyon because of a stalled storm over the Front Range of Colorado. Flood stage for the river is at six feet and it eventually reached over ten feet. The Big Thompson Canyon is fairly narrow for about 20 miles and the volume of water that rushed through was simply amazing. By Saturday, the damage was overwhelming and it is still raining. The river has crested, but still runs over nine feet.
The good news is that, as far as we know, we have not lost anyone. We do have a couple of people we cannot find, but we assume they got out safely or are still in their homes. Obviously, we will keep trying to find them. In these situations it is normal to lose people for a couple of days. My family and I live in Loveland, outside of the flood plain.
Two older women were killed by flood waters near the homes of some of our members and two of our members have lost their homes. The flooding was widespread, affecting communities as far south as Denver and as far east as Fort Morgan so far. Estimates say that over 1500 homes have been destroyed. In the canyon, the damage is great. The road is so eroded that CDOT says it may be eighteen months before it will be repaired.
Our little church building still stands, but we don’t know its condition. The house across the road is gone. Most of the people have been evacuated by helicopter, as there are no passable roads in any direction from the Drake community. It will be several months before any of them will be able to return home. This is, of course, just one of the areas of Colorado hit hard by floods this weekend, so resources are spread thin and restoration will be slow.
Obviously, the material damage is great and will take time, money, and a great deal of energy to repair. But the psychological damage is even greater. Most of the folks in our little chapel had retired to the mountains to enjoy the scenery, the birds, and the fishing. Everything they had was tied up in their homes and community. Now that is all gone. Those who will be able to return may find more change than they will be able to handle. Neighbors are gone; yards have been ripped away by flood waters. One man said that his cars are in his garage, but there is a ten-foot drop at the end of his driveway. Almost all have basements or ground levels full of mud and sewage and won’t be able to do anything about it until Spring. There will almost certainly be health and emotional struggles associated with this, besides spiritual struggles.
Your prayers will be most appreciated. Since most of our folks evacuated to Loveland, where I live, we will try to find a meeting place so we can maintain some sense of continuity. Finding everyone is top priority and finding a meeting place is next. Many changes are coming and change is harder and less welcome for those who are older.
You can find YouTube videos about the Big Thompson Canyon flood and there is a great deal of information on the Web, so I won’t post any pictures here. I intend to continue with regular blog posts on Wednesday.
Thanks again for your prayers.
17 responses to “Interruption!”
Sending prayers and loving hugs your way from across the ‘pond’ x
God bless you and all of those affected!!
Oh my, Pastor Dave. Thank you so much for posting this, and for letting us know about the needs. I am very familiar with Big Thompson Cyn, as I had family near there during the flash flood of summer 1976. Many churches were affected by the loss of life back then. I will pray for your church and your now expanded ministry. Please let those of us who read your blog regularly know if there is a tangible way we can reach out. I will check with Red Cross, Texas Baptist Men, & Samaritans Purse, as they all participate in domestic relief efforts. God Bless .
Dear Pastor Dave,
Thank you so much for posting. Your descriptions help me feel the shock and life disruption there and make it easier to know how to pray I will be remembering all my brothers and sisters in your church. Please do post if there is a more direct way to meet some physicial needs there in your church.
My prayers….and gratitude to God for keeping peaple in His capable hands!
I am praying for your community during your difficult time. About a year ago I reached out too you when I was terribly lost and wondering about God.. This was after suffering from a short but intense relationship with a narcissist. I only wrote a couple times but you helped me and I have read your site ever since.. I can now relate to what your going through as I am from Calgary Canada and last June our city experienced devestating flooding of which we are still recovering from. I have family directly affected by the flooding and it wasnt easy but 3 months later they are back on their feet as is thousands of others in our city that were left homeless. There is still much to be done and the city still has lots of rebuilding too do but slowly it gets done with lots of determination and volunteers and so will your community. Good luck.
Hello, prayers you have
I did not realize that you served that little church at Drake, CO. A few years after the big flood in 1976 the Gospel accapella group I was in sang there–fond memories…God Bless all of you,it sounds like it will difficult to get up there for quite some time.
Have been enjoying your posts for a while now…. Thanks,
I am so sorry to hear this. Praying right now.
Praying for a tangible sense of God’s comfort and care for you and your congregation.
My love and prayers with you all….. from Australia. I personally know the pain and loss from flooding. It brought back painful memories, but my tears and emotions are for you Pastor Dave, your people and all the people involved. In Australia we have suffered many losses, including people from flood and fire and always identify with others when these tragedies strike. Many heroes appear during these times, friendships develop, caring trust and love….. may that be for the people of Big Thompson Canyon.
Thinking and praying for you. May God’s grace shine brightly during a difficult time.
Hello, Dave & GFMH followers. Here are links to three trusted Disaster Relief Services (American Red Cross, Samaritans Purse & Texas Baptist Men), all of whom are already on-site in Colorado. I also included a paragraph from the Red Cross for easy donations via texting for those who wish to do so. Of course praying is always available and powerful!
If you would like to help, please consider making a donation today by visiting http://www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to your local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.
Thanks Penny. I also want people to know they can donate directly through our church for the needs of our congregation. I have set up a website at http://www.drakechapel.org that we will use for information to families and friends and there is a Paypal button for donations there as well. (Some may also be interested in seeing a recent photo of the Chapel as the flood waters rose to the doors.)
Thanks, Dave! What a beautiful Chapel, and so thankful that it seems to have withstood the rising water; I pray it will be a refuge for many. Praying for you and your congregation and so many affected by the floods.
I am so sorry this is happening to you and your community. Your chapel is lovely, and I hope it will be completely restored after the waters recede. The flood pictures bring back memories of New Year’s 1996 here in Northern CA. It was shocking and frightening to see our familiar Shasta and Klamath Rivers taking over the county like big, watery monsters and all the hills and mountains spouting water right out of their sides. But I don’t think we had nearly the devastation that your community is experiencing. I am praying for you and yours. Please be safe!
Pastor Dave~as the anniversary nears regarding the 2013 flood, I was wondering if you could update us on how your community is doing? My son was “canyoneering” & rock climbing near Forest Falls last weekend, right before last weekend’s flash flood there, so I was telling him about Big Thompson Canyon. What has the year been like for you and how is the rebuilding & repairing going? Still praying….