By Stan Friedman
CHICAGO, IL (September 14, 2013) — A woman who attends a congregation seeking affiliation with the Covenant barely escaped her home after she was warned in the middle of the night that water was rising quickly outside her house earlier this week.
“Her car started floating as she tried to get out but she was able to drive through the water,” said Clay Peck, pastor of Grace Place in Berthoud, a suburb of Loveland.
The basement eventually filled with more than three feet of water, and members of the church spent part of today trying to remove mud from the house, Peck said. The house was located behind the popular candy store she operates, Sunny Jim’s. It also sustained serious flood damage, Peck added.
Several children who attend the church were among a group who of students from a Loveland middle school who remained at Covenant Heights Camp and Retreat Center extra days because waters had cut off main routes down the mountains. They eventually were bused out by Trail Ridge road, a long winding back route through Rocky Mountain National Park that is now open only to vehicles evacuating people who are stranded.
As of this afternoon, communication with the camp still was cut off, but everyone was reported to be safe, said several pastors.
Meanwhile, throughout the communities, “It’s been a nightmare trying to get around,” Peck said. Trips that normally would take 10 minutes now take hours.
Reid Olson, pastor of Crossroads Covenant Church in Greeley, said everyone in his church was safe, although some were stranded in their homes because the flooding had severed access to their small outlying communities.
Pastors said they would have a better idea after Sunday how many people in their congregations had been affected.
Covenanters have begun helping others through the ordeal.
Covenant Village of Colorado retirement community in Westminster made two assisted living and six skilled care beds available for residents of a care facility in Boulder that had been flooded. Four residents had transferred to the Covenant community by this afternoon and another was expected.
“We opened up every room we had available to try to help,” Chaplain Kay Sorvik wrote in an email. “We have had quite of few staff who live in areas where they could not get to work because of road closures and some who have had basement flooding.”
Sorvik added that one of the parking lots at the community had suffered minor flooding but quickly drained. “Considering we are so close to some very hard hit areas, we are extremely fortunate,” she wrote.
Sorvik said the creek behind her own home had become “a raging river.” Although it had dropped a bit with the break in the rain, she was unsure of what would happen if several inches of rain fell tonight as predicted.
Dennis Anderson, pastor of Crossroads Covenant Church in Loveland, said at least several people in their church had a lot of water in their basements. The church is activating its Project One team to coordinate volunteers. The team normally leads a one-day community cleanup each year.
The intense effort to rescue hundreds of people stranded in their homes by the flooding throughout the region was evident. “The helicopters have been flying overhead all day,” said Anderson.
Doug White, pastor New Day Covenant Church in Boulder, said Friday some members of his church live in the mountains but were unable to drive down because roads had been washed out.
The basement in his own home had been flooded as waters rose around his house.
Residents in the region are bracing for still more flooding. Another two inches of rain is expected this evening.