The full toll from Colorado’s floods won’t be known for months but for one local Denver area non-profit, the devastation of the waters hit home – nine of them in fact.
The flood waters from Colorado’s floods have destroyed homes and taken lives. In one case, nine homes crucial to serving the needs of the most vulnerable among us were part of the toll.
Imagine! is a Denver / Boulder area organization dedicated to providing services for people with developmental, cognitive and physical challenges. The 50-year-old non-profit has grown to provide nearly 2,000 individuals with essential help and support.
- How you can help: Donate to Imagine!'s flood recovery efforts on ColoradoGives.org
Boulder County saw record-setting rainfall last week, and as the rain fell, rivers, creeks and streams began to swell. The waterways were soon simply unable to contain the six months’ worth of water that fell in seven days.
Employees scrambled to save the homes and protect the residents. Sandbags were filled in an attempt to keep the water at bay and while there was success, there was also devastation.
Jodi Walters, Director of Innovations at Imagine!, described a hurried but well controlled and orchestrated scene as the emergency unfolded. She credited the staff’s quick, well-trained response and an emergency preparedness plan that guided them.
“The floodwaters began raging in the very early hours of Thursday morning. Staff that was working the overnight hours got individuals up, dressed, and into wheelchairs where applicable and ready for evacuation,” Walters said. “On call supervisors ventured out to assess other actions which went so far as to deploying ladders to the roofs of the homes should they be needed.”
Employees worked long hours through the downpours and rising waters, oftentimes not knowing if their own families were safe. Others stayed through the weekend so employees that were in danger of losing their own homes could evacuate. One employee risked his life, pushing his way in an SUV to get to one of the Imagine! homes where help was needed.
Nine homes for 200 of these vulnerable citizens were devastated as the water spread. Six of them had the in-home residences for staff flooded. One home had over four feet of water in it.
Thunderstorms and showers continued into the weekend but for Imagine!, there was no time to waste and recovery operations. Employees from across the area quickly took action, in many cases bringing their entire families to help, working throughout the weekend.
“Our employees were critical in protecting the lives of the people whose care we are entrusted with. They know how important their jobs are and that they are relied on by many in our homes for daily living needs. It was amazing to witness their actions during the flood,” Walters said.
As a non-profit organization, Imagine! is heavily reliant on the sacrifice of employees and friends and the contributions of the community.
Rebuilding the homes will be an expensive and time consuming endeavor, but one that the organization pledges to see through to the end. Indeed they must, for the sake of their clients and those so desperately in need of their services.
AmeriCorps has sent a team to help but much more is needed. Imagine! is asking for volunteers to help with cleanup. Perhaps most importantly, contributions to help offset the tremendous costs associated with rebuilding are needed.
Describing the aftermath, Walters said, “Imagine! serves the needs of some of Boulder and Broomfield’s most vulnerable citizens, providing them with key services so that they can live fulfilling lives in their community. We built these homes specifically to provide community-based options for unmet needs allowing these individuals to live independent, quality lives. Our SmartHome, which suffered extensive damage, was built to explore how technology can help to maximize individual independence and maximize caregiver efficiencies. I feel so fortunate that the only loss we are talking about is property, and with the partnership of our community and the strength of our employees rebuilding is already underway.”
Community and strength. Key words that would seem to fit all Coloradans when faced with a disaster as we have seen over the past week.
On the net:
- You can learn more about Imagine! on their website.
- Click here to read a blog entry by Mark Emery, Imagine! CEO, describing their needs.
- To donate to Imagine!’s flood relief efforts, please visit their page on ColoradoGives.org.