Recovery in Jamestown, Colorado
by Becky Koller
||A picture of the flood damage in Jamestown in 2013.
The full version of this piece originally appeared on the Mennonite Mennonite Women Voices blog.
It was a cold, snowy December morning in 2013 when my husband Jeff - a
Mennonite Disaster Service
staff member - MDS volunteers Gil and Rhoda Friesen and I arrived in Jamestown, Colorado. A September flood had completely washed away 17 homes and had left many more with heavy damage. Ninety-eight percent of the residents had been to be airlifted out of town.
The little town of 300 was at a standstill. Jamestown's infrastructure had been severely damaged, and there was still no running water. The town hadn't gotten much media attention after the flood, so the residents were alone in mourning the loss of their home as they had known it.
The mayor, Tara Schoedinger, and one of her staff members, Nina Andaloro, met us at City Hall for a walking tour. As we moved through the eerily quiet town, I noticed the haunted looks on the faces the few residents who had come back. The creek, which parallels Jamestown's main street, was now filled with snow and ice. It seemed almost too beautiful to have caused such destruction. Schoedinger told us that the flood had changed the course of the creek - that some of the places where we were walking used to be the creek bed.
We continued along the creek, looking at homes that appeared to have been bulldozed. And in a sense, they had been bulldozed - not by machinery, but by the angry, raging James Creek. The creek had undercut some house; foundations, floors and exterior walls had been washed away, leaving them looking like oversized dollhouses with their rooms exposed. Still other homes had sand and silt stacked all the way to the roofline.