Personal Flood Heroes Nomination Letters
By Kathleen Spring
(Editor Note: On August 4, 2014, this article has been updated to include more nominations)
Hero nominations poured in for the Lyons Historical Society’s program honoring the flood heroes as part of their Good Old Days annual program. Every person nominated was not a government or charitable organization or
employee, but were neighbours, shopkeepers, and kind strangers. Each person who responded stated humbly that they were just doing what was right. Each person making a nomination wanted to be sure that this person was not an unsung hero, but hoped this would help them understand how they had changed their lives for the better. The character of the town of Lyons showed in its citizens.
The following is one example nomination made, and it is followed by the nominee’s response, which can give readers a good example of how meaningful the nomination process was: Chrystal DeCoster received four nominations: (1) She volunteered at the 4-Mile Resource store, at the Evacuation Center, and with Sgt. Nick Goldberger, and helped the library get new shelves. She is currently renovating the Visitor Center, getting better (donated) furniture, and supervising the Americorp teens doing renovations.
Chrystal’s response: “I bet it was the library who nominated me; I helped them obtain all the bookshelves n’ such through scavenging through surplus...That and some other stuff - no more than the bijillion other things so many many folks have done and continued to do. I nominate: Connie Burton Burkhart who was the Duchess of Ewald - kept a watchful eye on properties, a lost kitty, and helped so many evac out in her Dinosaur Lady rig! Monica McGuckin helped her neighbor find a generator to keep her medical oxygen flowing.” (...and she continued to list five more people...closing with:) “Oh my, where will this list end?”
Lyons’ ex-mayor Julie Van Domelen was out of town for the ceremonies and sent her regards, stating, “I have found that many heroes are unsung. I do hope you all emphasize that the real ‘magic’ to Lyons was that so many people responded in so many ways. I would support the message that we are all heroes.” Current mayor John O’Brien stated the same message of congratulations and thanks to the entire community of Lyons.
LaVern Johnson, Lyons Historical Society president, concluded, “What do we know what people did unless someone says so. People were pleased they were appreciated. A few thank you’s go a long way!”
Below are other nomination transcripts. Some shorter, names only, or repeated text are not listed. If you are a big company or government official, don’t look for your name here; all text describes extraordinary citizens of Greater Lyons area.
I would like to nominate Rick England, (Alissa's father) and Alissa England, (Rick's daughter).
When the sirens went off that night we turned the TV on and found out the emergency shelter was going to be at the Lyons Elementary School. They both said at the same time, we have to go help. They called all of the neighbors and said they were taking donations down in 30 minutes. They gathered food and blankets around the house, packed up the truck, picked up donations from the neighbors and spent most of the next 48 hours at the Elementary School. Alissa was instrumental in the medical aspect of the shelter. She and Dr. Kate gathered any medicine they could get their hands on, secured them, and started a list of who needed what and how to stretch out the little they had for all of these people. Rick was instrumental in the general logistics of the running of the Elementary School. Both helped the rescued victims in the shelter and also help load them and their personal belongings into the National Guard Trucks to be evacuated. Alissa and Rick, assisted, first handedly the rescue personal, firemen, police, town staff and flood victims. They were caring, professional, logical thinkers, laborers, crowd controllers. Both acted as if they were trained to do what they were doing. They hadn't been trained, they just jumped in and started working.......hard and long! They had no idea what the town looked like. They had been at the Elementary School for many hours. I was very worried about them but they just had to keep going. I'm very proud of both of them and astounded how they just jumped into action while I sat in shock. Linda England
Jeff and Gabry Cornell (and their children and 1 dog) opened their home to many of us Stone Canyon residents, as well as others who were stranded after the flood. They invited us all into their living room, provided us all with outlets to charge our cell phones once they had a generator going. They put out food and drink continuously. They maintained scrupulous sanitation in their kitchen, despite no water or electricity.
I will not forget their generosity. I will not forget the fellowship that we all participated in, thanks to them
I nominate the Lyons school teachers, staff and administrators as heroes: not only did many of them deal with their own flood issues/impact/hardships, but they set up the Longmont High School and had the Lyons schoolkids back to school on the same schedules, with the same classmates and the same teachers. That is amazing!
For example, Barb Hanratty took in flood evacuees, and had to move the contents of her classroom from Lyons to Longmont, and was there ready and comforting for her class of young schoolchildren. By Carol Pranschke
I would like to nominate Liz Erley. As the past chair of the LCF Liz went above and beyond in her efforts to secure donations and get funds distributed to those in need. Thank you, Monique Sawyer-Lang
"I wanted to nominate Steve McCain as a Lyons hero! During the flood, I don’t think there was anyone working harder or longer to help out people and the town. Steve used his equipment to save the 5th Avenue Bridge and ferried people across the treacherous water to safety. He didn’t stop helping for one minute and I, personally, owe him a huge debt of gratitude. He truly embodies the spirit of the town of Lyons. Thank you... by Lauren Ling
Steve McCain and David Wechsler are the ones they say that saved the 5th Avenue Bridge... by LaVern Johnson.
I’d like to nominate John and Sally King... Their spirit and spunk is an example to us all ...by Mystie Brackett. Around 2:45 a.m., Sept. 12, I drove to Jul Swann’s house on Seward to evacuate from my home on Old South, just as John and Sally King drove up... They’d just evacuated from their home in Apple Valley, having watched a big cottonwood take out the bridge to their home. ...We drove through flowing water all the way on 36 and Apple Valley road. He jumped out ...waded through water to get to the house, ...came back about 10 minutes later, with Barb on one arm and sister Gretchen on the other, wading through moving water about mid-thigh high. He also went to the neighbors to alert them to evacuate... by Cathy Rivers.
There are so many people in Lyons that are my Heroes! Yes Dave Hawkins is one; Alex Legg was also there digging out all the mud from my beloved 77 Subaru. But some may go unnamed like the person who got my family out of bed well after we had slept through the alarms and the door knocks. I owe her my life and the lives of my children and my husband Danny Shafer. It will be hard to just pick two Heroes when there are so many. ...and many others who helped me find some sort of sanity amongst all the insanity! Thank you!... by Amanda Anderson.
I’d like to nominate Dan Siddall. He is there every Wednesday and Saturday and all the other days of the week he can fit in. I don’t need to list what he did -- everyone in town knows what he did.... There are so many people. Thank you to the all!... by Linda England.
Dan did the heavy lifting, drove tractors, mucked out and did leadership... by Laura Levy. •
I nominate Lee Hall. He picked up Steve when he was walking down the flooded road and struggling during the flood, carrying his cat in his cage. I heard that he helped others too, like Jill who lives behind the senior center... by Janet Freeman.
Right after the flood, Lee Hall helped people for free with their computers, either checking to see if they got water damage or getting them connected to the internet at their temporary houses... by Kathleen Spring.
I’d like to nominate the entire Lyons Fire Protection District including Chief Hoffman, the volunteer firefighters and the 2013 board members. Many of them worked more than three days straight at the beginning of the flood before taking their first (forced) rest. Those that were stranded out of district worked with the Hygiene Fire Department until the waters receded and they could get into Lyons. Never questioning, these men and women worked tirelessly to make sure that the residents of Lyons and the surrounding communities were safe! Thank you... by Kerry Matre.
I stayed in my home in Stone Canyon throughout the flood. We got power back after a few days and I stayed behind to keep the house running so the fire department had a place to sleep away from the station when it was overrun by FEMA and the National Guard. We didn’t have water/sewer/gas like the rest of town but at least it gave the guys and gals a sense of normalcy and a quiet place to relax. It was an interesting few months for sure but I am glad I was able to stay in town and help out!... by Kerry Matre
We need to nominate Triple R Backhoe, Bob and Bob (Ribble) Jr., because they volunteered all of their time and heavy equipment the first whole week after the flood. They rocked it! Also, my husband, Peter, helped set up the evacuation center at the elementary school, then took a week off of work to help man the check points... by Jacque Watson.
Joycelyn Fankhouser is the Boulder County recovery manager who is also a Lyons resident and she’s amazing - she has to be acknowledged, she deserves a statue; and Barney Dreistadt is a must. Joanne Barnard: I don’t think she gets enough thanks so this would be good... They are as critical as Ed in long term volunteering/assistance. Joanne keeps Ed organized, and has done it as a volunteer since September...They put in hundreds of flood recovery hours... by Laura Levy.
Gary Goranson rescued numerous people before and after the flood. JJ Hofmann and the fire fighters who rescued the man on top of his car at Rte. 36 and Longmont Dam Rd plus numerous others. Gerald Boland who went to the elementary school first to unlock the door and turn on the lights. Then he left to find his wife... by Patricia Journeay.
Tasha Allyn Given husband Matt Given and family on the list. They were complete strangers who put a roof over my family’s head for ten weeks until we could get our utilities back. It literally meant the world to us! They are the most amazing family!... by Maggie Gudgeon.
Lewie (Luis) Gonzales! Pulled a lot of folks out! Dragged our elder Mr. Tom (and others as well) out of River Bend and almost went under himself! Death defying, as he was tangled up in an extension cord and going under ...yet pulled out to safety and continued to help with his bobcat after waters receded way before volunteers were able to reach us. Love that Lewie!... by Carrie Gonzales •
Bryan Vandenbos of Lumber Liquor...had the liquor store back open three days after the flood and ran it with no power for a week or more.
The Andersons and the Carrolls for the emergency access road.
How about Brock Newton not only for giving people a place to go after a hard day at work but also being there for anyone that needed help.
Kate Mazuy totally rocked it in the kitchen at LES/shelter (Lyons Elementary School) for those first few days during and after the flood. She was amazing!
Joycelyn Joy Fankhouser who has tirelessly worked on flood relief for individuals since it happened.
Linda Pecone kept the Lyons Happenings Facebook page updated, giving the stranded hope and sanity by having a link to the Town’s progress; to which she responded, “In the end it was necessary for myself as well.”
Dr. Catherine Cavender. She is a Lyons resident who helped with meds and evac in the beginning.
Blue Mountain Stone was the first ones out with their construction equipment to help clear the roads. •
Crystal White for all her amazing work volunteering. She was there every Wed. and Sat. (at 4-Mile Resource Store). She does stuff no one else will. I have seen her go into moldy nasty crawl spaces and homes. I think she is an amazing woman!
Most of Pinewood Springs residents were helicoptered out. Those that stayed initially did not have water, propane and electricity or internet. The volunteer fire department is credited with twice-a-day information updates, and then staying behind two weeks to make sure things were running smoothly for those who stayed.
I would like to nominate Geri and Ted Plank for their service to the residents in Pinewood Springs after the Flood. Geri Plank opened the doors to the Colorado Cherry Company, where people could donate food to share with other residents, the freezer to keep food for residents, to share, and her arms for anyone needing a hug. Ted Plank was instrumental in the Organized Recovery Task Force... by Diana Paxton.
Everyone in Pinewood depended on Laura Levy’s Facebook postings to keep them informed as to progress on the roads and the town’s recovery. It kept us hopeful and sane... by Kathleen Spring.
The community of Big Elk nominated an overwhelming number of people, which appears to include almost every citizen. Below is one example of the nominations that came in, with the others to be listed online at soon. 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 still helping to keep the town moving forward in its recovery efforts,
Donna Stricklin Compton (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 sixty-five days for the thirty-two people 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.
This article concludes with this nomination, which shows how meaningful it is to have the ability to nominate your personal hero: Yes! There are too many heroes to list but here are some... My dad, Dave Hawkins. helped so many during and after the flood ... His property still holds many of these people’s cars and property because they would have had no place to put it during/after the flood. He was stranded in lower Lyons at Stone Canyon until they were able to let people through and once they did he was constantly helping anyone in need. He did all of these things without getting anything in return. He is truly one of the most selfless people I know and never stops giving. He has volunteered in Lyons over thirty years and never gets much recognition. So I hope that his name will somehow come out to thank him for all he has done. Thank you! From Jordan Hawkins.
Last Updated on Monday, August 04 2014 16:21