Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Night of the Raccoons 

The recent devastating floods in Colorado have isolated Estes Park, ravaging Boulder and the front range. 
These stories remind me of a night in 1976 when I lived in Estes Park when 145 people died in the Big Thompson Flood.  I was working for a man who owned both a movie theater that I managed and a radio station, KSIR where I served as an announcer.
A phenomenal rainstorm hit one Saturday, the night when I changed the old school marquee of this single-plex. 
As lightening and thunder rumbled around Long's Peak I knew an unusual storm had hit, I did not know how severe. 
I awoke in the middle of the night and as I checked the front porch, I was surprised to see it covered by raccoons. You know the rain is bad when the raccoons try to break in to your house. 
What I didn't know was that twelve inches of rain fell in four hours and a twenty foot wall of water went cascading down the canyon. 
It was a time before cell phones, and there was no way to warn the hundreds of campers who were huddled in their tents and trailers. Three hundred of them did not survive that horrific night. 
As a newsman for KSIR, I was allowed by the National Guard to travel in and report on the damage. 
It was an outrageous scene, homes were trashed like  doll houses, and my heart went out to those who died, it must have been a frightening way to perish.
Oh, and the movie I put up on the marquee that night played to record crowds for several weeks, the coincidence of the title and the flood made national news, the film was, 'In Search of Noah's Ark.'