Writing and Photograph by Rita Baysinger
Any disaster where public safety is threatened, flood, fire, tornado or even terrorist attack, results in the mobilization of hundreds of first responders. Members of local fire and police and medical units are hit first and hardest. When these resources need assistance because of the scope of the disaster, incident management teams are brought in. Jefferson County has its own incident management team which was called into action on the first day of the Coal Creek Canyon Flood. These team members train together but hold jobs and may live in other parts of the metro area or even other parts of the state.
The same is true of National Guard forces that arrived in Jefferson County yesterday to assist the incident management team with its mission to serve citizens gravely affected by the flood and protect public and first responder safety. These are a diverse group of men and women who are trained to serve and protect their fellow citizens.
After a short briefing held at the Arvada Fire Department Training Center they immediately started working to fill hundreds of sandbags needed to help protect structures impacted by floodwaters.
The first truckload of sandbags was dispatched to Upper Bear Creek Canyon where high water was threatening residences.
While the affected family and some neighbors had been able to do some sandbagging on their own, they couldn’t do it alone and they breathed a sigh of relief when the convoy of two Humvees and a truck loaded with sandbags pulled up to their driveway.
Everyone helped with the messy job.
And when this task was completed the National Guard convoy started back down the canyon for another load. Sandbags that were not used were loaded into the homeowner’s truck and driven across the flooded access road. The span could now be crossed safely, even on foot, because the sandbag barrier cut off the current.
Then these neighbors helping neighbors placed the remaining sandbags against another home and waited for another promised load of filled sandbags to arrive later.
Across the counties of the Front Range and Eastern Plains, the story is the same: neighbors helping neighbors, whether uniformed or in hip waders or flip flops. Amid destruction and tragedy, communities pull together to overcome whatever nature hurls at their doorsteps.
Please do not put yourself in danger to get pictures. These photos were provided by a member of our incident management team.