Howdy all! First off, we want to thank you for your overwhelming support over the past week. It has been a trying time to say the very least. We just want to give you an update on what happened through our lens, what’s going on now, and what we expecting in the coming weeks and months.
Hwy 36 with a ‘stream’ scattering debris across the road just after sunrise last Thursday.
After the dry spell we’ve had over the past few years we have been so thankful for a much wetter year this year. The flowers have been wonderful this summer, the temps have been a bit cooler, and the National Park and town, both, have been a lush green just about all summer long. So when it started raining on Monday of last week, we were thankful. Keep the fire danger down. But it kept raining. And it kept raining. Then it rained some more. My family and I got up early on Thursday morning to take my wife and youngest daughter to the airport for a weekend with family. We noticed that there was no traffic on Hwy 36 going either direction but we wrote it off as simply being early in the morning. We headed east and soon noticed the river spilling over its banks. They turned us around at Pinewood Springs. Little did we know that less than 24 hours later this community would be completely isolated needing to be evacuated by the National Guard.
The rain just kept coming and the rivers kept rising. People were interested and walking around town watching the water. It certainly was impressive. At Kind Coffee, business was as usual with folks gazing at the Big Thompson as it rose toward the back door. Our seasonal pond here at the lodge was filling rapidly, and we all started to hope the rain would stop. There wasn’t any damage anywhere quite yet, but we knew if it got *any* worse it could get bad pretty quickly.
Bugle Pointe – Just below McGregor on Fall River.
Fast forward another 24 hours and it seemed that all hell had broken loose. Water was literally everywhere. Roads were gone, homes were gone, people were scrambling to evacuate from mountain communities such as Pinewood Springs and Glen Haven, and we were all in shock as to how bad this had actually gotten. I drove up to the lodge to find a stream running down the driveway. A good friend of mine and I got to work to divert what we could away from the cabins. It was to late for our Pinon Cottage (#2) which had water flowing out of the front door. It wasn’t terribly bad, but a couple of inches in one of the bedroom, the bathroom and the kitchen. The rest was just saturated carpet, so it could have been far worse. We built dams in a few spots on the property and it seemed to work really well. One spot was beyond a fix though as it was simply a spring with water bubbling out of the ground and flowing down the driveway. Our seasonal stream was a roaring torrent that could have washed you away!
Elkhorn Ave. during the flood. Click to enlarge.
It was surreal to drive down Fall River Rd and see bridges being washed away and to see river banks disintegrating before your eyes. To see Elkhorn Ave as a river, literally. Entire mature spruce trees were being swept down the river. The National Guard was, and still is, manning check points. I have to show my ID to get to my house.
Once we got McGregor under control our focus shifted to helping out where we could. Chris began offering cabins to those who were evacuated or lost their home. I used my skills by trying to get into remote areas like Glen Haven to asses the situation, help evacuate folks via tyrolean, and simply to use my fitness to help however I could. Those experiences are best told in another venue as they were a bit intense and I’m still trying to process what went on, and what is still going on, out in the remote communities. Luckily they are now being, or have been, evacuated by helicopter.
All that’s left of our friends home and store on Glen Haven. A pile of debris!
So it’s now Tuesday and the rebuilding has begun. They have removed most of the mud/silt that coated the downtown streets and parking lots. Some businesses that were flooded are already reopening. The sun is shining and it feels like autumn! We still have more work ahead of us than I think we realize but we are on our way and will be back up and running full speed sooner than later. The people of our mountain town are strong and truly love this slice of heaven and it’s exciting to see us all working together to overcome this.
So what’s next? Where does this leave us and you, our valued guest? Obviously, there is some work to do before the throngs of tourists can come back in, but we are hopeful that this can happen relatively quickly. I’m hoping a week or two. But with hwy’s 34 and 36 completely destroyed, easy access wont be available for months. We are getting mixed reports of when you can come visit so I wont say anything definitively, but we’re hoping days/weeks but fearing it may be months. We have refunded all who had reservations during the next couple of weeks, and some who were planning a stay during the remainder of the year. And again, we’re holding out hope that things can get back to normal fairly quickly and it wont be an issue. The National Park should open before too long and most of the businesses will be close behind. The issue at hand is access. How fast will they have Estes accessible to you? We will keep you up to speed the second we have any reliable information.
Our ‘stream’ at the lodge.
Recovery is really getting underway now that the rescue/evacuation efforts are winding down and there are many ways that you can help.
You can send donations to the following places:
I’m sure there are more, but those two seem to be on it aggressively and already making a difference. You can always contact the town of Estes Park and certainly your denominational affiliate here in town.
Rebuilding has begun! Clearing mud from the roads and parking lots.
This is a time to rally and use our strengths to take care of our neighbors and to make ourselves all the stronger. Thank you again for your support! YOU are what makes McGregor Mountain Lodge such a special place for all of us who call the slopes of McGregor Mountain home. We truly, truly, hope to see you soon!
Michael, Chris, Susan, Moises, Steve, Carlos, Tanner, Bently, Alex, & Starbuck