Hecker family witnesses Colorado flooding

Amanda, Wyatt and Steve Braun of Hecker returned this past weekend from a rain-soaked vacation in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. (Alan Dooley photo)

When we dream of a vacation to the Rocky Mountains, we imagine brilliant sun-filled days with crystal clear blue skies contrasted with puffy white clouds and scenes that stretch to infinity and beyond.

A Monroe County family, Steve and Amanda Braun and their 15 month-old son Wyatt, had a different iteration of that vacation last week when they visited family in Bailey, Colo., southwest of Denver. There, the young family witnessed a national story unfolding.

The area the Brauns visited is in a 17-county region that has witnessed record flooding in recent days. National media outlets have reported eight deaths, hundreds unaccounted for and more still being evacuated. Boulder – less than 60 miles from where the Brauns stayed – saw several inches of rain in a day, as some homes were washed away and others were inundated up to their second stories. The deluge has been called a “1,000-year event” and the National Weather Service has referred to it as “flooding of biblical proportions.”

“We saw more rain in four days than they normally experience in a year there,” Steve Braun of Hecker said.

Steve said it was raining as they arrived at their relative’s home.

“On Monday, we were headed out to sight-see at Mount Evans, but what we saw instead was two to three inches of pea-sized hail.”

Tuesday, they headed north to Loveland, to the Big Thompson Canyon and Rocky Mountain National Forest – where Amanda, a physical therapist at Monroe Physical Therapy, reported, “the rain held off until after we left.”

Wednesday, they headed down to Colorado Springs, where it wasn’t raining as they visited the U.S. Air Force Academy.

They had other plans, but a combination of renewed rain and recent fires around Colorado Springs conspired to keep that family in a motel room Wednesday night, as rock and mud slides resulted from deluges washing down hills denuded by recent wildfires.

“It seemed everywhere we went, flooding wasn’t far behind”, Amanda said.

Thursday, they headed out of Colorado Springs – through rain swept roads covered by an estimated eight inches of water.

“We saw motorcycles, bicycles and cars in that water and were lucky to be in a pickup truck,” Amanda said.

The Brauns went back to Bailey and then headed straight home — back to bone-dry southwestern Illinois.

The Braun family is reportedly heading to Disney World in Florida next summer. So if your plans include a sunny, dry vacation in Florida, you might want to think about spring, or maybe fall.

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Alan Dooley

Alan is a photojournalist -- he both shoots pictures and writes for the R-T. A 31-year Navy vet, he has lived worldwide, but with his wife Sherry, calls a rambling house south of Waterloo home. Alan counts astronomy as a hobby and is fascinated by just about everything scientific.
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