Friday, September 27, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013

"Flood Longmont with Food"...


It's interesting how memorable experiences in life are sometimes painful, sweet and inspiring all at the same time. This week has been like that for me. A week ago much of northeastern Colorado experienced a devastating flood. It has affected all who live here and will continue to impact many lives for years to come. Unless you've seen a flood of this magnitude first hand, there's really no way one can comprehend the destruction. The amazing photos don't even do it justice because pictures are so one dimensional. It's hard to explain, but when you are in the middle of the devastation all your senses are painfully aware of the damage around you. You see it. You hear it. You smell it. You feel it. So terribly sad, yet...

I have seen amazing acts of selflessness, compassion and kindness this last week. So many have helped flood victims in one way or another. It has been gratifying to see how communities, churches, organizations and individuals have rallied around those most affected by the chaos. Helping in one way or another has been the norm, not the exception.

On Saturday I was part of an amazing event called "Flood Longmont with Food." This volunteer group of over 150 people -- comprised of students, church members, friends and neighbors -- packed over 1600 sack lunches for other volunteers, first responders and homeowners working "in the trenches" in the most affected areas of our town.


It was an amazing experience to witness this group work together to meet the goal of making 1500 sack lunches. Attached to the lunch bags were sweet handwritten notes created at the event by children of the volunteers thanking the recipients. A sack lunch might fill a stomach, but these notes were priceless. I especially liked one that read, "Weeee thank you. Skip. Skip. Skip." {Rocks skipping over water -- very applicable in flooded areas!}


After the lunches were assembled, delivery drivers with helpers loaded up their cars with over 100 lunches, hygiene kits, and water and took the goods to specific areas of town. I was fortunate enough to be on one of those crews. It was so wonderful to be able to thank the volunteers who were doing the dirty work {taking water/mud out of homes, clearing out basements of mud-soaked furniture, tearing down sheetrock and taking out insulation from homes} in this very tangible way. This was such a meaningful event, and I feel so fortunate to have been a part of it!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Flood Recovery...

What a day. I don't think I could have imagined just how bad the flooding had been in certain neighborhoods in our town if I hadn't seen it myself. I'm still shaking my head. The rushing flood waters were so strong that it washed away the earth beneath these railroad tracks.


And, yes, that's an army vehicle laying on its side. It was used to evacuate people, but was carried downstream and turned on its side.


Today my husband bought some high power pumps, and I went door to door in one of the hardest hit neighborhoods asking if they would like our help to pump water out of their basement. Each time it took only minutes to find someone who took me up on my offer. We helped two families. One had water at least four feet up their basement walls. Each pump shot out 150 gallons of water a minute and it took 2.5 hours to empty their basement. You do the math. {That's a lot of water.} You can see how high the water level reached from this photo of their garage...


I know I'm a little weird about this, but I found it fascinating how much water came out of the pumps...


Our son flew in from California just to help with the recovery efforts. He's such an amazing young man. I'm so grateful for his giving nature. We didn't make an impact on a lot of people as we worked, but we did make a huge impact on a few. So gratifying.



These families have a long way to go, but I was so struck by their indomitable spirit. It was inspiring the way these families -- so affected by this flood -- were moving along with determined attitudes and smiles on their faces.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Colorado Flood {continued}...


Yesterday was the hardest day yet for me. It rained all night on Saturday night and most of the day on Sunday. Buckets of rain. Evacuees from areas of Longmont that had seen so much flooding and had finally been let back into their homes on Friday and Saturday were asked to evacuate again as waters rose again to flood levels in their areas. In the early afternoon an area that surrounds a beautiful lake a couple blocks from our home was asked to evacuate. We were told that we weren't in the framework of those needing to leave, but to be ready at a moments notice. We threw some necessities in a suitcase and piled our 72 hour emergency kits and a emergency medical kit into the back of our car -- along with a couple cases of water. Then we made room for our kitty. I realized at that time that we didn't have any cat food in our 72 hour kit. She might not have liked the protein bars I had in there, but she would been fine with the canned tuna.


The evacuation of homes a couple of blocks away was rescinded about an hour later when upstream mitigation efforts diverted the water that was an imminent threat. By then we had hauled most of the furniture up from our basement to our main floor. I'm ok with that. I'd rather be safe than sorry.

It rained throughout the night, but isn't raining at the moment. Our yard looks like the Garden of Eden -- so lush and beautiful. It's hard to believe that something that can have such a positive effect, can also be deadly and destructive.

The rain is supposed to stop today. It's time to roll up our sleeves and go to work. I think I'm going to have to eat about 10 energy bars first and take a handful of vitamins.

My thanks to those who have taken a minute to comment on my posts the last couple of days. You have no idea how much your comments and kind words have meant to me.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Flood Clean-Up Underway...


Yesterday I showed some photos on my blog about the "500 Year Flood" in Colorado. I've never been in any type of clean-up effort for a natural disaster before today, so when we got a call around noon to help a member of our church whose home had flooded I went in the clothes I had on and put on my new tennis shoes. About two seconds after arriving, my feet looked like this...


I won't show you what I looked like when we finished the job. For the record my tennies are white, and I was wearing white low cut socks that you can hardly see when my shoes are on. I had gone to this house with the assumption we would be clearing water out of a basement, but we realized rather quickly the task was much larger than that...


These homes back up against a beautiful creek that turned into a muddy river that flooded this neighborhood. Homes had anywhere from a few inches to 8 feet of water and mud in their basements. We were asked to help remove the mud from a culdesac that is maintained by the neighborhood homeowners association. This culdesac is just off a street that is maintained by the city. When we arrived there was about a foot of mud in the culdesac and the driveways of the houses. We worked with shovels, snow shovels and push brooms to move that mud away from the houses, down the culdesac, and onto the city street where city trucks could come and remove it. It was a long culdesac...


Our task was made a little easier when four-wheelers with snow plows were brought in to help move the mud...


I've never seen mud that has the consistancy of velvety dipping chocolate until today. Amazing. By the time we left the culdesac was mostly clear of mud. As we worked I didn't imagine that we would ever see the pavement, but sure enough it was there...


There may be more photos like this as I help with cleanup efforts throughout our town. Most of the roads have been reopened in Longmont and the waters are receding. It's so odd to drive through areas that look perfectly normal and then go to areas that are devastated. So sad, but I'm thankful that many areas were spared. It'll feel good to work in the other areas and try to make a difference.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Flooding...


Things have been quiet on my blog this week. There's a good reason for that. We live in Boulder County in Colorado and our hometown has been experiencing scenes like this the last few days...




They are calling this the "500 Year Flood" because it is unprecedented. Neighborhoods in my hometown have been evacuated and are under water. A little town just west of us, Lyons, is totally surrounded by water. Fortunately, the Colorado National Guard was called in with trucks that could traverse the river of water and are evacuating people, but there are many further up the mountain that are stranded. Estes Park has a torrential river running through the main street of town. So incredibly sad. These are scenes from our hometown of Longmont...









Our town has been cut in half with the flooding of the St. Vrain river -- which typically is more like a creek. There have been no avenues open from the north end of town to the south end. A river is running through the town, as illustrated in the photo below.




Thousands are without power and water supplies to surrounding towns have been compromised and cut off. Below is a fire engine that was sent to rescue two stranded motorists that had bypassed a barricade at 1:30 a.m. In the process of rescuing the stranded persons, the water continued to rise and overcame the engine. Fortunately, the crew made it out safely as did the rescued parties, but there lies a firetruck that is desperately needed right now because two people acted impulsively.

{All above photographs courtesy: Times Call}

Our home is fine -- as is my husband's office. So far we've weathered the storm, but I feel so bad for those whose home or business has been flooded. I know there will be plenty of opportunity to serve my community in the next couple of weeks, so blogging is going to take a back seat. Here's a photo of a subdivision that is about two miles from our home...

{Source: Payton Peterson}

Please pray for those whose lives and property are in harms way and the rest of us that are just trying to tread water until the sun starts to shine and rain isn't in the forecast. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Child's Play Tent Tutorial...


As a child I remember building forts, tents and tee pees with sheets, blankets and pillows layered over chairs, sofas and beds. Something magical happens when a child's imagination is fired. This indoor/outdoor play tent is the perfect hideaway for any child, and it's an easy, fun project that shouldn't intimidate any adult. Let me repeat... This is probably one of the easiest projects you could make for a child. As an added bonus this tent folds flat for easy storage!


This tent was introduced on my blog last week as part of the "Waverize It" fabric challenge. Click here to learn how I added Waverly's "Button Blooms Confetti" fabric to a chevron print to give the effect of flowers climbing up the sides of the tent!

Materials for Tent Frame:

2 - 1" x 2" x 8' lengths of select pine, cut each in half to form four 4' lengths for tent poles
3 -  3/4" x 48" hardwood dowels
3/4 inch spade drill bit 

Note: I bought "select pine" (which is the highest grade on the market) for the tent poles at Home Depot. Select pine has a smooth, even finish with no splinters, however, there are less expensive grades available that you could use. Home Depot will cut these lengths in half at no additional charge. All the materials for the tent frame, including the drill bit, cost about $20.

Instructions for Tent Frame: 

1. Take one 4' length of 1" x 2" select pine and measure and mark 6 inches down from the top of the piece and 3 inches up from the bottom of the piece, centering the mark on your wood. Using the 3/4 inch spade bit, drill a hole through each mark. I used a drill press to drill accurate holes, but a hand-held drill will work well too.

2. Repeat with the three remaining lengths of pine.

3. Line up two lengths of pine (tent poles) and slip a dowel through the holes that are 6 inches from the top. The dowel should fit snuggly in the holes. On the other end of the same dowel slip the two remaining tent poles onto the dowel. That dowel will form the the ridge pole on the top of the tent.


4. Slip the other two dowels through the holes that are 3 inches from the bottom of the tent poles to form a brace on each side of the tent.

Optional: If  you have rambunctious kids and are afraid that it will collapse inward when bumped by your little ones, you can add an additional horizontal pole on the base at the back of the tent. Use another length of pine, drill 3/4 inch holes in the ends and slip the pine over the two bottom braces (dowels), like this:


When you go to store the tent, simply take off that bottom piece of pine and collapse the tent inward.

5. Your frame is complete. It couldn't have been easier!

Materials for Fabric Tent:

Note: Because people may want to finish off or hem the edges of their tent differently, I am going to give the finished measurements** for the fabric tent.  This finished measurement is the size of fabric you will need after you've hemmed the edges. One might choose to turn over and hem the raw edges around your tent, zig-zag the edges, or simply leave the edges "as is". That decision might depend on what type of fabric you choose. Duck, twill, upholstery fabric, faux leather, fleece or cotton (make sure it is at least 44" wide) can all work beautifully for this project. Buying a twin flat sheet at Walmart and cutting it down could be the least expensive way to go. Faux leather or fleece would be cute for a little boy's tent and you wouldn't have to finish off the edges! If you're a less experienced sewer, the thinner fabrics (a twin sheet or lightweight cotton) will be easier to manage.

8 yards of 1" ribbon or twine for ties, cut in 8 - 1 yard lengths
45 inch length of 2" wide grosgrain ribbon for casing
**Finished Size of Fabric for Tent: 43" x 86"

Instructions for Fabric Tent:

1. Finish the edges of your fabric to form a 43" x 86" rectangular piece for the tent.

Tip for the novice sewer: If you choose to hem your tent edges, make sure you add the size of your hem to your original fabric piece. For example if you stitch a 1 inch hem on each of the four sides of your tent, you should start with a piece of fabric that is 45" x 88", then turn over the edges 1 inch on all four sides and stitch around the outsides edge to form a piece that is 43" x 86".

2. Fold the tent in half lengthwise and iron along the center fold. This fold will help in the casing placement.


3. Center grosgrain ribbon over the center fold on the wrong side of the tent fabric and pin. Turn short ends of ribbon under to make a finished edge and stitch close to the outside edge along the length of the ribbon. This will form the casing for the ridge pole.


4. Mark 18" down from the center fold and pin one 1 yard length of the ribbon or twine to the wrong side of the tent fabric. Measure 18" down from the marking you just made and pin another length of ribbon or twine. Do this on all four sides of the tent fabric, like this:
5. Sew ribbon or twine in place with a straight or zig-zag stitch.

6. Slip ridge pole through the casing in the tent. Tie ribbons or twine around the tent poles to secure the fabric.


7. Enjoy watching the children in your life pretend, imagine, invent and relax in their own little world.


When the children are finished playing, simply fold the tent poles together for easy storage!


 

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