As many of you know, we lost our family mountain home to the historic 1000-Year Colorado Flood last September.
Who in the world would have flood insurance when your house is on the side of a mountain, at 8000-something feet, with no lake or stream above you? Certainly not us. And seriously, it wasn’t the flood that destroyed our house. It was the landslide. No one advised us of this unforeseen possibility. If they had, we would have been insured. This has proven to be a very hard lesson.
For several weeks after the slide, we had a stream going through our house. And, yes, that’s the frig, outside, on its side.
I still cringe when I see the photo below, because that back room was my Mom and Dad’s bedroom. I’m thankful everyday that they weren’t there when the landslide hit.
The next door neighbors were there. They said it sounded like the mountain was coming down. It tore off the side deck on their house and filled the garage and lower level with mud. They were terrified and wanted to leave, but the roads were already compromised. They were later helicopter evacuated.
The next photo I want to share is a panoramic shot and can’t be seen on this page in its entirety, so please click on this link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/doo010101/10046744636/in/set-72157639353940486
That was the kitchen and dining room on the lower level, right after the slide. We’re pretty convinced this is why the house is still standing: all that mud is now hard as cement and holding the structure in place.
We were able to get into Big Elk Meadows only by foot or atv for weeks after the flood. All the roads were completely washed away. So that’s what we did. With help from our cousins, Lisa and Justin, we went in by atv. We wanted to see for ourselves. I took pictures and we tried to rescue anything that could be carried out by atv, over pretty rough terrain.
Another task was to cover the gaping holes in the house (to try to preserve what might still be able to be salvaged) and to stabilize the structure as much as possible. They get strong winds in that valley and 2’ snowfalls are common. We had no idea if the house would stand through the winter. We NEEDED it to!
There was no timetable as to when the roads would be open again and winter was creeping up fast. We knew that the remaining items to be rescued would have to wait until next spring.
It was heartbreaking, having our hands tied like that and leaving our house to God-only-knew-what. (Since then we’ve learned that mold spores may prevent us from saving anything else. We still have to test for spores.)
There have been lots of tears shed. We all miss that place very much. It’s still weird that it isn’t there anymore. I’ll think of going up there for one reason or another and then it hits me like a ton of bricks – “oh yeah, can’t do that. It isn’t there.” This is how we choose to remember it:
It’s been 8 months since we lost the place. It’s Spring and we’re talking to demolition companies now. We’re trying to figure out who can check for mold. (there were two rooms upstairs that were mostly untouched by the slide. They’re full of furniture and things we’d like to retrieve, IF THEY’RE SAFE.)
AND… WE’RE MAKING PLANS TO REBUILD!
Our lot is pretty large and the north side of it was untouched by the slide. (this part of our land is actually between the two major slides, and because of the topography and the previous paths of the slides, this land is safe!) And this is where we’ll rebuild!
Scott’s been working on plans/drawings for the new house, trying to incorporate everything we feel like we need and lots of the things we want!
It’s pretty unbearably exciting!
With all the recovery and construction going on in Colorado, all the agencies, contractors and construction people are very busy. It can take months to even obtain a permit to demolish and/or build.
We have our demolition permit as of today! Realistically the re-build probably won’t start until next Spring because of continuing repairs to our little community. Our street will be inaccessible for a couple months this summer, while they rebuild our water system, which was washed away in the flood. (permanent residents have installed water tanks and are having their water delivered.)
But getting the old house down is the first, big step and it looks like that might happen very soon. Then we can finally have some closure.
Then the excitement of building a new favorite place begins!