It’s been a year. Remember those days, in September 2013, when the rain kept coming? When the rivers spilled their banks, when people lost their homes, their livelihoods, and even their lives? I visited Larimer County several times as I reported “The Rising,” and each time I was struck by the newness of the devastation, the freshness of the feelings there. Sure, things had changed with time—roads were opened, silt was pushed away, whole swaths of land were transformed seemingly overnight. But it was hard not to think of this natural disaster in the present tense, because so many people were—are—still living through it. They were missing cars and refrigerators, bedroom sets and family Bibles. Those were the lucky ones.
Among the things locals constantly talked about were the gawkers, the folks passing through on their way to or from Estes Park who’d stop in the middle of U.S. 34 to take a photo—who’d think nothing of pulling into someone’s driveway to get a better look at another human’s wrecked life. Even if the survivors wanted to move on, it seemed impossible. So if you’re driving through one of these formerly flooded zones, from Colorado Springs to Boulder to Loveland and beyond, remember: People live there. People lost their homes there. People might have died there. They all deserve our respect and our condolences. And one year later, they deserve a chance to finally move on.