They say that when it rains, it pours - This is something Colorado residents can relate to quite literally, given the recent torrential rains that began with just an inch in Boulder on September 1st and then quickly escalated to a record 9.08 inches on September 12th, nearly double the city's previous one-day record and about half of what it gets annually!
The heaviest rains were experienced over the foothills of the Rockies from where water flowed into the four major tributaries of the South Platte River - Boulder Creek, St. Vrain, Big Thompson and Cache la Poudre rivers resulting in vast flooding that destroyed entire communities.
While the rain finally seems to have ceased and flood waters are receding, residents have returned to some devastating scenes. Particularly affected is the community of Lyons that lies on the edge of the St. Vrain River, just 15 miles north of Boulder. Here, flood waters have uprooted entire homes and tossed them around as if they were toy houses. Utility poles have been snapped off their roots and the water supply is contaminated with E.coli bacteria caused by the damaged wastewater system. Experts believe it could take years for things to get back to normal.
The only silver lining if one can even call it that, is the fact that the casualties have been relatively low. So far, only eight people are believed to have lost their lives, though 648 are still missing, more than half from Larimer County which experienced some of the heaviest flooding. Also amongst the missing are the some of the 300 residents of Jamestown in northwest Boulder County which has transformed into an isolated island after floodwaters devoured the primary road access to the small town. But the army and National Guard are hard at work in what is being hailed as the biggest civil rescue effort since Hurricane Katrina, and painstakingly looking for stranded residents and . . . their pets!
For believe it or not, this rescue effort involves both humans and their best friends. In fact, the brave men and women who are out scouring the flood ravaged areas have adopted the motto - 'No Pets left behind' and are risking their lives to pick up the animals. So much so, that onboard some rescue helicopters the number of animals exceed humans!
So far, 900 family pets including dogs, cats, chickens, goats, birds, a tank full of fish and even a monkey, have been rescued. And while livestock could not be airlifted because of their large numbers, they have been moved, as much as possible, to foster homes' on higher ground. The officials say that one of the reasons they made animals as much a priority as humans is because of what happened when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Many animal owners refused to be rescued because they did not want to leave their pets behind, resulting in larger than necessary loss of life - Judging from the relatively fewer deaths this time around, this strategy sure seems to be working.
Though it will take the people of Colorado a few years to get back to normal, they will at least have their best friends by their sides, as they go about rebuilding their lives!