The Flood: The Flood Shrine

Today is one year from the Flood of 2013. Commemoration events are happening in Lyons and in Boulder County. To commemorate the flood in my own life, I am posting part of my flood story every day this week. This is the last post. Here are the firstsecondthirdfourthfifth and sixth posts. Rather than simply tell the chronology of my flood story, I’m hoping to share some of the feelings I experienced. Down, up, and sideways. 

This is my story, but it is not one of significant difficulty or hardship. People are still experiencing extreme difficulty and hardship because of the flood. Please consider helping through a donation to Lyons Community Foundation.


Fifteen days after the flood began, I wrote in my journal, “Things are moving at breakneck speed around me and I have completely stopped moving.”

External change was rapid. Internal change was exhausting. I needed a deep pause to catch up and mourn. The flood shrine provided that space.

I love that Lyons created a flood shrine.

The Flood Shrine

The Flood Shrine

Here is a piece of Apple Valley Road. Here is a dresser, a mirror, a bowling ball, a stop sign, pink flamingos, a painting, a car grill, metal gas cans, a rifle. All found after the flood.

Flood Shrine 3 -AV road



I loved that it was called “The Flood Shrine.” A shrine combines a place for the dead with awe. It is “a place hallowed by its associations,” according to Websters.  I could leave the old with the flood shrine, revere it, remember it, and know that it had a place to stay as I moved on.

I put myself in the flood shrine.

Flood Shrine with Emily

Flood Shrine with Emily

I left my old, pre-flood self there, and moved into my new, post-flood life.

Today, September 12, 2014, is one year after the flood. Today I need the same pause that I needed a year ago. I need to revere the flood, to fear and respect it.

After a year of rebuilding and accepting, I pause.

As I remember the noise, the confusion, the camaraderie, and the disorientation, it is tempting to tie this series up with an uplifting bow of recovery and a town pulling together. But that is only partially true. My flood experience was relatively mild; my post-flood life is not dramatically different than my pre-flood life. That is not the case for everyone. I look around, and I see roads that are rebuilt and people that are home. But I also see people having to wait to rebuild, people who don’t know if they will ever rebuild, and people who will never be able to return home. Recovery–whatever it looks like–happens at different rates for different people.

Every one of us is called upon, probably many times, to start a new life. A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, the loss of a job . . . And onward full tilt we go, pitched and wrecked and absurdly resolute, driven in spite of everything to make good on a new shore. To be hopeful, to embrace one possibility after another–that is surely the basic instinct  . . . Crying out: High tide! Time to move out into the glorious debris. Time to take this life for what it is.  

~Barbara Kingsolver, High Tide in Tucson, Essays From Now or Never

There is no tidy bow. As we continue to integrate these events in our external infrastructure and our internal resilience, I hope we learn from them. My part of Colorado is starting a new life, and, as Kingsolver says, taking this life for what it is.

One Response to "The Flood: The Flood Shrine"

  • This made me teary. You say that your story is ‘not one of significant difficulty or hardship.’ I’m not sure we always know how to measure these things. In any case, your stories are significant and I am grateful for your sharing them. As someone who desperately misses a landscape that I haven’t seen for too many years and who can’t imagine the changes of this past year, these stories have been a window into a part of the world I love no less for it being far away and damaged. Thank you.

    1 Melissa said this (2.22.2011 at 00:17)