Sunday, September 29, 2013

When flood waters rise, so do we.

I'm not going to lie.

I have not written in a long time.  I sometimes see the outdated blog staring at me almost taunting me to write.  I decided to take a break and get refocused.  Life has thrown me a couple of curveballs in the past few months, and I needed some time to figure it all out.  But all of that is for another day.

Most of you know I am a Colorado gal.  I have lived here since I was three years old and my dad moved us from Lexington Kentucky to Boulder with IBM.  I'm not a native, but I am darn close.

I love Colorado.  It is an amazing state.  I love Longmont.  It is a great city.   In fact, it is such a great city we were voted the 2nd happiest city behind Napa California due to our overabundance of happy Tweets.  And if we can outtweet the wine capital of the world, we must be happy.

Recently we were not so happy.  The weather freaked out on us and dumped rain until floods ran rampant over our amazing state.  Over 7000 people were displaced.   It was an insane experience that seemed surreal,  as if you were walking on a movie set- but not my hometown.

Photo by Payton Peterson

We got rocked.  We had churches, schools and civic buildings set up as shelters for all the displaced people.   The National Guard was called in and had to airlift out many people living in mountain communities, after they had been stranded for days.  People died in the flood waters.

I rolled over Thursday morning, September 12th 2013 to get ready for work.  I glanced at my phone.   There was an email that school was cancelled due to pending flooding.  After my initial glee of a day off, I started to worry.  I pulled my sweat pants on and headed to my laptop.  I began to scour the internet for information.  I had the TV on with the news.  By sundown things were getting really really bad.  I didn't know what to do.  I read the tweets from people wondering what was going on.  I saw the concerned facebook posts.  I knew the one thing I could do was to keep people up to date.  I could stay online and share information.  I could tweet, I could facebook, and I could email.  And I did.  Suddenly social media had a real, important purpose. There were no political rants posted. There were no horrible bathroom "selfies" on twitter.  Information was flying around Longmont, and I felt grateful to help, in some little way.

What happened next I suppose happens in a lot of places where there is a tragedy, but I think in Longmont,  in the 2nd happiest twitter place, we did it really, really well.   The people came together. Longmont went to work.  Longmont rolled up it's sleeves, pulled on it's boots, grabbed a shovel and their neighbor and went to work.   People could get back into their houses to work.  The National Guard tried to keep the volunteers out of the areas, but that didn't work too well.  School was cancelled for a week.  I hoped my leadership students would not waste the time, but help.  Boy, was I impressed. They helped. They were amazing.  EVERYONE was amazing.   We gathered at my house and made hundreds of sack lunches to deliver to the volunteers who were cleaning out basements and working so hard to help.

We collected tools and cleaning supplies to help those in need.  People donated hundreds of dollars of worth of items.  

A friend collected items from BYU and her Utah friends and drove it all over to Colorado to help.  

A friend and her family gathered items and mailed them from California 

We gathered a group of people from the LDS church, the Silver Creek Leadership Academy and many amazing local folks and made 1600 sack lunches in an event called 


And then we delivered the lunches. 

My students were amazing.  They worked hard and were featured in a newspaper article.

Then, one of the kindest acts of thanks I have ever been given, I was thanked for stepping up to help in an article in the Longmont Times Call.

So out of the mud, the smell, the damage came this amazing thing.  We stopped whining about things that we disagree on and we helped each other.  It reminded me of the United States right after 9/11.  We stopped finding fault with each other for a little while and were proud to be Americans.  In Longmont, I saw people from very different faiths working together in someone's basement and yard.   I saw kids with "Longmont Trojans" and "Silver Creek Raptors" T-shirts on working side by side and enjoying each other.  People stopped what they were doing and donated what they had for those who had nothing.  A member of the Red Cross was quoted as saying they had never seen a town come together like Longmont.  Maybe they were surprised, but I wasn't.

I know the people here.
They are my friends.
They are my co-workers.
They are the teenagers working part-time who push my cart to the car from King Soopers.
They are the the ladies at the Post Office in the Ace Hardware that know my son is on a mission in California.
They are my kid's teachers and coaches.
They are the policemen and firemen.
They are my friends who are elected officials, and newspaper reporters.
They are my friends from the Longmont Chamber of Commerce, small business owners who gave away all kinds of items to help.
They are retired people who volunteer all around the city.
They are Pastors and Priests and Rabbis and Bishops.
They are football players, soccer players, cheerleaders and bandies.
They are all the amazing people who make Longmont what it is.

On the night of September 12th 2013 We forgot all that divides us and thought of only one thing.  
How can I help? 

And that, was a beautiful thing......
Seeing us truly, make a difference, one random woman (person) at a time...... 

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