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The aftermath of the Colorado floods: A Boulder mom’s perspective

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From my second floor bedroom three weeks ago, I listened to flood sirens and nursed a stiff drink while my 2 year old clung to my chest. When they started, I was settling in for a quiet evening and thought I was imagining things.  It didn’t take me long to remember the insistent tone of the protocol we’ve heard each flood season since we moved here: “If you hear the sirens, GO UP”, and so I did.

The city tests the sirens once a month and whenever they do, my 2 year old runs for the nearest warm body for comfort.  That night, I found the two of them huddled together, my daughter quietly soothing her little brother, half asleep herself.  Ushering them into my room, I felt grateful to have brought my drink upstairs with me.

I didn’t sleep much that first night, concerned for those I knew to be in much more precarious situations than we were.

The next few days were a roller coaster.  The rain let up here and there but there was always more on the horizon.  The threat of flash flood was at its highest at night when the city was already swimming in darkness.  One friend was taking shelter on the second floor of her building with her young family, and had sent me a message saying “I just want my precious babes to be safe and out of this mess” when I noticed an alert from the city saying there was a 30 foot wall of water coming down the creek carrying cars and other debris. The wall was expected to hit at midnight and it was 11:52 p.m.  Midnight came and went.  The wall had been absorbed by the creek.  This was the way it was around here for four days.

After the storm passed and the city dried I started getting back into a daily rhythm only to be reminded, by army trucks and helicopters passing through and flying over, of the struggles going on in neighboring towns. Paralyzed by guilt and sadness, I watched as heroic locals dropped everything to help those in need while I sat on my computer and felt sad.  I told myself I couldn’t help because I have kids to take care of, but wondered if I was relieved to have the excuse.  More guilt piled on.

I reminded myself of Raising Little Heroes.  Here was an opportunity to get our kids involved in helping our community in the wake of a natural disaster.  We decided to organize a food drive and I my momentum again.

We live in a world where people can fly planes into buildings full of people, tornadoes can mow down entire towns, a person can open fire on a school full of children and a peaceful creek can suddenly resemble a freight train, barreling through communities, showing no mercy.  That’s scary.  What’s beautiful is we can come together after the scary stuff and rebuild as a community.

Sarah Stith lives in Boulder with her husband and two children (ages 2.5 and 5.5) while her husband attends grad school.  Before moving to Colorado, the family lived in Brooklyn, NY where Sarah worked as a dresser at The Lion King on Broadway.  She now works from home and manages to find time between diaper changes to build her organization, “Raising Little Heroes” (, a group devoted to finding volunteer opportunities for families with young children.

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  • comment avatar Amber Johnson October 8, 2013

    I can’t even imagine. We were right on the border between the haves and have nots of this flood and feel fortunate we were spared. But seeing how the community has come together has been inspiring.

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