Lyons and the 2013 Colorado Floods
On Wednesday night, September 11, Boulder County, Colorado experienced a flood of epic scale. No place was harder hit than the small Front Range town of Lyons. The two forks of the St. Vrain River that join in Lyons jumped their banks, inundating the town. In one night Lyons lost 25% of its homes, the sewage treatment plant, the water treatment plant, utilities and all road access in and out of town. By Saturday September 14, when I shot these photos, the town was in lock down, shut off from the outside world. Residents were being asked to evacuate. But once they left, they couldn’t return for an indefinite time. It is possible that Lyons will take up to a year to rebuild. Its hardy, creative community has been “Katrina-ed”, scattered to who-knows-where. I will miss Lyons, and so will the world. The biggest challenge for Lyons and my biggest hope is that when they rebuild, they build for the eccentrics, the artists, the musicians, the March Hares who gave Lyons its texture, its guts, and often its skin. Most of what was destroyed were the affordable homes. They will be tempted to rebuild for the wealthy, giving Lyons a “facelift” but leaving its soul behind. Lyons is empty now, almost a ghost town ringed like a hot zone by National Guard. If they do it right, the mosaic of Lyons will re-craft itself into a stronger, even brighter weave. If they don’t do it right, Lyons won’t be a ghost town. It will be a hungry ghost town.
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