I've been trying to wrap my head around a way to write about the flood last week. It was devastating and heartbreaking to watch our beloved city fall apart.
But, what I keep coming back to is the kids. This was the first time that I felt unsure about what would happen. We were getting reverse 911 calls pretty frequently and they awoke Thursday morning to us packing the car up with as much as we could fit in.
It's hard to reassure them and remain calm, when you aren't sure yourself. We took a lot of deep breaths and only checked news on our cell phones. A friend of ours was evacuated before we were and so she headed over here with her three kids. It was the perfect way to distract them and keep them busy. A house full of six kids helped keep us all calm.
At one point, we decided to walk the older kids down the street so they could see first hand the overflowing and rushing creek. They had so many questions and, funny enough, it helped them to really understand what was going on. They could see some of the trees that were knocked down and the sidewalk gone from the walking path. We were completely safe, but close enough to see the power of the storm. 24 hours later that same spot looked so different----half the community pool gone and a foot bridge nearly pushed to its side.
We evacuated later that afternoon, once we lost power and realized that two bodies of water had the ability to strand us here. It was a risk we couldn't take with the littles ones.
Being evacuated is surreal. You are in a completely safe zone, away from all the danger and life is going on around you. Once the rain stopped, people began washing cars and mowing lawns. It made me want to scream to see them so unaware of the devastation just a couple of miles away.
I can imagine that today, as I go back to my normal routine, people who lost everything want to scream at me.
The rain and being in a different place made the kids pretty antsy. When we could, we got out for walks around the neighborhood. They collected worms and slugs and found treasures hidden in sidewalk cracks. We maintained as normal as we could and I tried to stay as present as I could, especially on these outings.
It's easy to get sucked into media coverage. We were checking twitter feeds and Instagram constantly. But, we never turned on the news. We showed Mia some video footage and pictures, but only when they had context that she'd understand. We wanted her to know that she was safe. That no matter what we were doing all we could to keep her that way.
The little ones didn't understand what was going on. They understood our house had no power, but they didn't see any flood related damage until after we'd come home.
Now, they know that the rivers and mud created a big mess. But, to them being evacuated meant a family sleepover at Grandma's.
It was pretty evident though that by the last day of being evacuated we were all feeling a little tender. Nerves were fraying & the kids were being extremely demanding of me. Naomi was having accidents pretty frequently and I was exhausted. There was a frenetic energy that was welling up in all of us.
We came home in a daze and walked the neighborhood. We met new and old neighbors who were also stunned by the power a small creek had to change the footprint of our neighborhood. There was so much mud and debris. A good portion of the park was gone. Houses only a couple of blocks away were covered in mud.
Surprisingly enough, the next morning was one of the most peaceful mornings to date. In our own home, the kids nestled into different spots with stuffies and books. They played with each other calmly and kindly. I was able to slip away for a much needed coffee break with friends.
That morning was a gift and a reminder that home is really the best place to be. It was also a sign that even though we shelter and protect, kids pick up on our emotions, cues, and energy. No matter how present and calm I tried to be, they knew that we were out of our element. In the end, we were so extremely lucky. I can't say the same for so many families in our area. The town has a lot of rebuilding to do. The kids were given a whole new set of vocabulary that they had a direct connection to. Flash floods & evacuation becoming a part of their memories.
To donate to local and state resources to aide in recovery for Longmont check this website.