In Lyons, residents took shelter on higher ground, including some at an elementary school, before National Guard convoys could push through the water and into the isolated town. The convoys carried 15 people at a time to buses beyond the roadblocks, past cheering crowds.
Dawn Lundell and John Johnson decided not to wait, instead hiking from the town through 200 yards of water in a canal. They described a “calm, reasonably festive” atmosphere among those who remained.
“Nobody minds roughing it a little bit in Lyons. We’re all outdoorsy people. We call it Mayberry. Everybody helps each other and everybody loves each other so we’re all helping each other out,” Lindell said.
In the town of Drake, the Big Thompson River was more than 4 feet above flood stage. The Big Thompson caused the deadliest flash flood in state history in 1976, when about a foot of rain fell in just four hours, killing 144 people.
Between the Big Thompson and Little Thompson rivers, Jose Ayala spent Friday morning picking through what was left of his family’s possessions in their two-story farmhouse near Berthoud.
He and his sons watched the waters rise all Thursday evening, finally making the decision to flee at 11 p.m. with some documents and a computer.
“The rest is in the house. All gone, basically,” Ayala said.
Some of the flooding was exacerbated by wildfire “burn scars” that have spawned flash floods all summer in the mountains. The flames strip away vegetation that normally helps absorbs excess water and leave a residue behind that sheds water.
One person was killed when a structure in Jamestown collapsed. Another man drowned in floodwaters north of Boulder while trying to help the woman whose body was found Friday.
To the south, Colorado Springs officers conducting flood patrols found the body of a 54-year-man in a creek.