Former couple escape flood disaster

Sean and Clara Brown who were caught up in the Colorado floods.
Sean and Clara Brown who were caught up in the Colorado floods.

The parents of a former March man and his wife caught up in the recent Colorado floods had to wait almost a week to find out whether or not they were safe.

Pat and Maura Brown, of Knightsend Road, March, feared the worst when they couldn’t contact their son Sean and his wife Clara, who live in the mountains outside Lyons in Colorado, one of the areas most hit by terrible flooding earlier this month.

Sean completed a 10 mile trek down a mountain trail to reach Lyons and raise the alarm when his home was left completely cut off after flood waters wiped out all the roads.

He and Clara were left without food, water and power for four days and no means of contacting the outside world before he undertook the treacherous walk down the mountain leaving his wife behind.

“It was absolutely terrible when we saw the floods on the news and they mentioned Lyons. We tried contacted Sean and Clara but we couldn’t get through to them. We heard people had been killed and we feared the worst especially when we hadn’t heard from them,” said Maura.

She said Sean was horrified by what he found when he reached Lyons, where he was looked after by emergency services who arranged to have Clara and their neighbours airlifted from there isolated mountain home.

“There was just devastation, the town was being evacuated, it was a terrible mess,” said Maura.

Sean(45) and Clara (43), who both work as carers, have been unable to return to their home since being evacuated out of the area and they are now living in temporary accommodation in nearby Boulder.

And they have been told it will be months, probably not until next spring, when the roads have been rebuilt, before they can return home.

“It was wonderful to eventually get an email from Clara saying they were all right and we have since had a Skype call with them, but they are still really stressed. They were very lucky the actual floods missed their home, but one person was killed just a short distance away and in fact at lest seven people died,” said Maura.

The floods happened on September 9 when the St Vrain river overtopped its banks following extremely heavy rainfall, destroying dozens of homes, a trailer park, two town bridges and sections of the only road in and out of Lyons with a population of 1,600 people.

At one point over 1,200 people were unaccounted for, Sean and Clara among them, but the number slowly dropped as communications started to work again.

The National Guard used heavy trucks to get through the floodwaters to deliver food and water to those trapped in Lyons, which like neighbouring Jamestown and Longmont was reduced to an island by swirling waters.

President Barack Obama has signed an emergency order approving federal disaster aid for Boulder County and Sean and Clara are waiting to hear whether they will get help with their temporary accommodation.