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5 years later, Colorado communities continue to rebuild after devastating floods

Five year anniversary of catastrophic floods
Posted at 4:46 PM, Sep 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-10 21:01:45-04

Five years after the devastating 2013 Colorado floods, many communities continue the rebuilding process.

“Flood recovery is slow,” said Connie Sullivan, mayor of Lyons. “Early on they told us it was going to be a good five to seven years, and it was hard to believe at the time, but it really has been."

Lyons has scheduled a series of events and celebrations this week for the five year anniversary of the floods.

The Boulder County town at the mouth of the north and south St. Vrain canyons was ground zero for much of the flooding. The floods crippled parts of the state, killed eight people and caused more than $1 billion in property damage.

"This was an unexpected thing," said Lyons homeowner Bonita Yoder.

Yoder’s home now has the somewhat dubious distinction as the only home still uninhabitable in Lyons.

“You can see about here, the water line," Yoder says, pointing out the water line from the floods on a basement window.

"I am the last house in Lyons,” Yoder said. The last house to be habitable after the disaster, in part because she has been living out-of-state for a time, funding and grants that are no longer available from FEMA and new regulations for contractors.

“It’s been frustrating, but I like the city staff,” Yoder said. “The city hasn’t been difficult. It’s just the regulation and the process.”

There are still many infrastructure improvements happening to this day in Lyons, and Sullivan says there are critical housing needs, especially affordable housing.

“We still lack a lot of what we had before,” Sullivan said.

Yet somehow, the people here have bounced back.

"They praised us for having a lot of grit," said 91-year-old LaVern Johnson who has lived in Lyons her entire life.

"I would say, ‘Yes.’ Lyon's is back," Sullivan said.

And just this past week, Yoder got water and electricity back.

"This is exciting,” Yoder said. “The things we take for granted.”