BIG ELK MEADOWS:
Located west of Hwy 36, and 2 miles north of Pinewood Springs.
5 dams broke; no water, power or phones; people initially sheltered in the firehouse; Engine 4901 dead; 108 evacuated; 32 stayed. Highway 36 was inaccessible in both north and south directions, and people had to be helicoptered out. Some chose to try to exit on the gravel Johnny Park Road, which is almost entirely an off-road driving route. Day 58 power returned, and Day 94 roads were opened for a few evening hours daily; Day 235 most phones restored. The entrance road from Hwy 36 had to be rebuilt, and is much higher, and supported by sturdy boulders. (see photo below)
NOTE: You can find an almost minute-by-minute story of what happened in an article that I did back in September 2013 for the weekly Lyons Recorder. It is available for viewing at the Lyons Redstone Museum newspaper archives, paper and digital, (open May 1 to October 1, 9:30a.m. to 4:30 p.m., opens on Sunday at 12:30p.m.)
PINEWOOD SPRINGS & BIG ELK
Geri Plank appeared on two lists — Big Elk specifically nominated Geri for baking home-made foods when they had nothing to cook on, and she did other manual work. — Back in Pinewood Springs Geri had opened up the doors of the Colorado Cherry Company to the flood victims; and her husband Ted worked with Chief Andrew Lucas, the Incident Commander.
Laura Levy was manager for the temporary Larimer County Long Term Recovery Group office; but I mention her here because she also set up a Facebook page for Pinewood Springs residents so they could keep in touch with each other, and know what the developments were in town.
Big Elk created a Facebook page, and it contains all the photographs taken during the early months of recovery. Once they got back on their feet, they created a second Facebook Page, and called it Big Elk 2.0. It is still active today.
During the recovery commemoration event in Lyons, the community of Big Elk nominated an overwhelming number of people as their Personal Hero, which appears to include almost every citizen. Below is one example of the nominations that came in, with the others listed in the Flood Recovery Section of the old Lyons Recorder.
Note, the person making the nominations, Donna Compton, was also nominated herself by multiple people for sticking it out in her home, without power, during the flood and getting news out to stranded residents and is still helping to keep the town moving forward in its recovery efforts ~~~(I want to start by nominating) Steve Garcia who went out in the early hours of the flooding knocking on doors to alert residents to shelter in place and swung me across a rushing stream with good humor and a steady awareness that this was not your usual event. Steve is one of our new firefighters. Steve went out on horseback with the always dependable Sam Schwab searching for a way out of Big Elk. Firefighters Randy Orth and Jerry Dickinson joined Assistant Fire Chief Paul Flanagan searching by foot and by ATV ways out of Big Elk – or rather – ways to get supplies into Big Elk. Leonard Arnold was a powerhouse of support getting Big Elk a supply line and a plan for rebuilding. The Volunteer Fire Department of Big Elk provided shelter for 65 days for the 32 who didn’t evacuate. And, (people like) Candy Carpenter who was everywhere at once, she’s in the field working remove debris from our lake beds, crawling in hot yellow hazmat suits under neighbors’ houses, doing paperwork in the office … and then she’ll play you a song on her guitar… Heroic efforts, yes, staying sane and cheerful in this almost-year-long-still-unfinished flood recovery is exemplary… so many more to be listed.” …………. by Donna Stricklin Compton
==Donna herself was nominated by Laura Levy: She never left during the flood, lived there without water or power for months… and communicated to the outside world on behalf of Big Elk // and she developed a Facebook page that is like a “historic archives”!
“I no longer live in Big Elk Meadows community,” said Donna this week, “but the community stays with me like family. Here at Vagabond Ranch I’ve found profound peace and lots of fun chores. This month our fire chief emeritus passed away – he was Santa every year. Looking back, grateful for a community that through crises shows its soul to be good and strong.”
See also Pinewood Springs ARTICLE, with lots of photographs. // and 24 articles about LYONS, covering both the early days, months and years, on up to the 10 Year Commemoration Ceremony September 17, 2023.