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This page offers stories submitted by flood survivors. These accounts have not been verified. If you survived a flood or know someone who did, share your story and help save lives. Please Contact UsPLEASE note that we have permission to print your story online and let us know the town and state and the month and year of the event if possible.

Perry Park, KY, 1999

Twenty years ago my wife and I lived in Perry Park, Ky., a very small community in Owen County. Heavy rains sometimes flooded the bridge into the community. One night in a storm a state trooper tried to turn back residents returning in their car from vacation, saying to them that the flooded part of the highway in front of them was too dangerous to drive through. The couple in the car proceeded forward anyway. Their car slid into the adjacent rasging Kentucky river and they were gone. The disaster made an indelible impression on me. How tragic! I’ve often wondered which of the two pressed the idea of going forward, only to realize with horror that doing so had doomed the other.

Laura, September 2013, Drake, CO

I was prepared for a wildfire, buckets of water positioned around the outside of my house with throw rugs to soak and use to beat out flying embers. It started raining earlier that week, and everyone in our area (except the tourists) was grateful because drought is more common here than not. An early reverse-911 call that morning woke us up with the news that the Bureau of Reclamation's Olympus Dam at Estes Park was going to have to start releasing lots of water down the Big Thompson River. I saw our 1 foot deep river rise to 8 feet deep within the next hour, we lost our pump house, and that was just the beginning. There was also considerable water and flooding from a small side stream that destroyed my driveway and yard and bridge access.

Because I hadn't given any thought to flooding, I didn't know what to do to get ready for high water that might go through my cabins or where would be the safest place to park a vehicle so it would be safe and not in the way later if the battery went dead or some other problem. Things got steadily worse over the next four days - our roads, bridges, and power lines were wiped out, the entire river canyon closed. Being on my own, there was nobody to help decide what to do, and the phone/internet went out early on so couldn't look things up. We don't have cell service unless we hike high up on a mountain, and that access was cut off by flood waters.

The good thing was I had a whole house generator installed a couple of years before, in case a wildfire caused power to our area to be shut off until the fire was controlled. I still had all the comforts of home along with satellite TV, and could monitor the progress of the storm and rescue activities. I spelled out OK on my back yard using bed sheets and worked through various activities once the flood waters receded in my yards, like winterizing houses, cleaning out the refrigerator and deep freezer, and getting the house ready to be left without power and heat for an indefinite period. I was nearing the end of my list, had my evacuation bags and the cat packed up when the local fire department came knocking on the door. I delegated my list items to them: shut off the propane at the tanks, shut of the power to the houses, gather up the bed sheets in the yard, throw the last of the refrigerator food into the river, carry the cat kennel, and off we went. My bridge was intact but the ends had washed out; they brought a ladder, and we were able to walk up my ruined road to the main highway, which was drive-able to Estes Park. It was 25 days before power was restored to my house, 3 months before I could get propane delivered, 9 months before I could get my access road rebuilt and drive up to my house, 5 years before our highway was completely repaired.

Lessons learned:

  • Rural, isolated people should have a generator and at least 3 days fuel supply for it
  • Secure patio furniture and other outside items like propane tanks that could float away
  • Learn what risks and hazards apply to your property and prepare for them
  • Go to every recovery-related meeting that you can, get involved, network with local and federal agency personnel
  • Get to know your neighbors
  • Prepare for the next one