Photographer Kenneth Wajda
Kenneth Wajda had a photography studio in downtown Lyons, and did movie screenings for a few years. Kenneth has been a portrait photographer and photojournalist for over 30 years. He was living in town during the 2013 Flood. He felt it important to capture what was happening in Lyons from day 1 of the disaster. He specializes in taking natural photographs of people, and therefore captured photographs of the flood victims and the disaster, unlike what other photojournalists were doing. We asked him how did he get pass any guards and blockades.
Kenneth said: “I didn’t have to get past anyone, I just walked into town from my house on 5th Avenue. I had to get a ride both ways across the river between me and the town because it was too high to walk across. But there was no security guard involved.”
“I did get photos out for two days to AP before the National Guard got in and brought press in with them.”
NOTE: “Lyons Flood of 2013: A Community Becomes a Family.” The book is available in hard cover or soft cover, and new people who sign up for his newsletter get a 20% discount. —order a copy “on demand” at the following web site: BOOKSTORE — The Lyons Redstone Museum has a copy of the book that you can view.
Oral History of artist Larry Cohan
PART 1 – I am not and couldn’t ever afford a home in Lyons. My connection is a, family member, homeowner resident since 1995. The neighborhood has been the closest thing to what I could call home. Some of the neighbors I have known over 20 years. A few of those are really good friends.
5 years ago the most horrible thing I have ever experienced began. The neighborhood took a direct hit from a ravishing statement from mother nature. Persistent powerful flooding for what seemed like 3 days. I was not living in the neighborhood at the time but because family member, homeowner, was out of town I managed to tread water, before it became impossible, in order to check on her kitty cat. The cat had been safely evacuated.
For the next several hours all we could do is stand in the rain, horrified, watching from the north bank of the North St. Vrain Creek where the footbridge was about to be washed away.
(Photo: Babcock House; 1st house restored)
Leaning on me, sobbing uncontrollably, soaking wet, was Jill Babcock. Once the Police Chief of Lyons, a gal of immeasurable integrity. Just across the creek her small yellow house she had lived in for several decades was close and visible but barely recognizable. The raging creek was up to her windows, her mature trees were snapping like tooth picks and disappearing down the creek along with everything else in the neighborhood. Fences, cars, sheds of family possessions disappearing in the blink of an eye.
PART 2 – details on moving rocks, swinging a pick ax at the river rock, and pulling weeks by the 100s.
PART 3 – This restoration project, entirely financed by only the homeowner and me, is coming to a point where I will part ways. I have done all I can do. It has been hard, sad and satisfying. Emotionally challenging as long time neighborhood flood survivors/friends have passed away still perplexed as to why the process was so difficult.
With the anniversary coming up and knowing that the Governor may fly over this memorial garden during his visit I worked to where I feel comfortable with what I could accomplish. Exhausted yet satisfied I have sat in this garden over the last 3 days, reflected on the last 5 years and have sobbed and sobbed.
I guess as a community and a caring neighbor we do what we can do. Some give in different ways. I gave all I could, I gave unconditionally, I am wore out and I am at peace with my self respect from my involvement in what needed and still needs to be done.
…………..typed by Larry Cohan, 9/14/18
Courtesy of Lyons Redstone Museum “Flood archives/oral histories”
NOTE: Larry Cohan prints and paintings can be seen at Lyons Redstone Museum. And, a few originals are hanging in Lyons Town Hall, as part of LAHHC’s 3rd Quarter town-wide art exhibition. Prints can be purchased at the museum.
Additional Photography Books
All books are available for purchase or viewing at the Lyons Redstone Museum. (Museum closes October 1st, but visiting tourists can leave a phone message and arrange for a pick up on most Wednesdays).