Jamestown Colorado a year after the flood… Still cleaning up
On September 11th, 2013, Jamestown Colorado suffered a traumatic 3 day flood event. It forced 90% of the town to relocate. The town lost 13% of the homes, both of their bridges, the town water plant and fire hall, as well as 50% of their roads. Most devastating however, was the loss of their patriarchal resident, Joe Howlett.
Just over a year ago I visited Jamestown. With camera in hand, my goal was to document the devastation caused by the September 2013 rains, mudslides and flooding. At that time, you needed a permit to get through the road blocks, so I was escorted by a clean-up volunteer with permission to drive into town.
Jamestown Colorado was a small community of only about 300 residents, pre-flood. It was hit hard in the 500 year rains and subsequent flooding in September 2013. The picturesque river that runs through town, actually ran through town and took parts of Jamestown with it as it coursed down and out of the foothills. Jamestown is located in a small canyon. The water and mud ran off the hillsides and toward the river – which was then a raging torrent of rocks, trees, personal property and REAL ESTATE!
Last week I revisited Jamestown Colorado. Armed with the information that Boulder County was spending a fortune (relatively speaking… Price/Resident) to reinstate infrastructure and return Jamestown to “normal”. I was interested to see the new and improved mountain town. 88% of the households are now back in Jamestown. A couple of homes are under construction and a couple more have just broken ground. The Mennonite Disaster Service has a strong presence in town and is helping with the reconstruction of Jamestown.
See below for before and after photos. Yes, at times it can be hard to tell it’s even the same location!
Driving into Jamestown in 2013:
Driving into Jamestown in September 2014:
Downtown Jamestown… Some things are really quite far along in the healing process, others it seems, time has forgotten.
Earth moving machinery has been onsite since Sept 2013 and the river looking more picturesque than ever.
Then there are places that will forever be changed. Gone but not forgotten. Jamestown Colorado community will always remember the loss, tragedy and devastation of the September 2013 flood.
People often comment to me that I seem well established in Colorado. That after years of traveling and having lived in four different countries, I seem to have found a permanent home. It’s true. Colorado with its four distinct seasons, dramatic geography and abundance of wild places and wildlife, has captured my heart. For all the same reasons I love Colorado, I’m cognizant it’s also a place capable of delivering unique challenges to it’s residents.
I have been a resident of Colorado for almost 10 years. During this time, I have been witness to devastating wildfires, biblical rains and flooding and destructive mudslides triggered by the rain and exacerbated by the fires before that. Perhaps because of this, I have also seen community spirit, with acts of kindness and cooperation, that brings me to tears.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget how fortunate I am to live in a part of the country that is bathed in sunshine 300+ days a year and is home to some truly remarkable people. The people here, are strong and spirited. They value their quality of life and are willing to stand up and defend it, rebuild it, advance it.
Boulder County is filled with hardy, devoted folks who care about community. Colorado was the first state to give women the right to vote by popular election. Boulder County was among the first to label sexual orientation as a protected class.
During a challenge we rise to our potential. After a challenge, we help each other up, dust ourselves off and begin a new day. After all, it is another beautiful day in Colorado!