Was there a forced evacuation of Lyons?

There has been tension and and misinformation about the so called "forced evacuation" of Lyons. We wish to cover the many points of view and hopefully reach a point of understanding why the things are happening the way they are. Let's review the various actors in the drama.

Major news media reports: "...forced evacuation of Lyons is underway..."

While most Lyons residents were on their respective islands of isolation during the first 48 hours after the flood, outside of Lyons, in Boulder, Denver and in distant locations, the news media received canned press releases from the government saying Lyons residents must leave because of loss of utilities, dangers of nature, etc. After 30 seconds of news media presentation and repetition from friends the messages is a "forced evacuation". We were in Lyons today(Monday 6/16) and there were enough people moving about the town town area freely that it is clear the evacuation wasn't forced. If you're worrying about your home, this small persistent group of neighbors for a reasonable community watch in addition to the police which are making routine sweeps of all parts of town.

A neighbor says "...I was forced to leave..."

There's no much going on here. The neighbor is a bad mood and is convinced the rhetoric from the officials means "forced evacuation". This is America. A person's home is their castle. The officials have no legal right to force you from your home. They do have the right to exercise their legal rights to encourage you to leave. This has been done. Perhaps they pushed it a bit too far. There is a rumor that an official said "FEMA will cut checks to Lyons residents on the spot at Lightbridge Church / Evacuation Center". We can neither confirm nor deny this but it makes a good example.

A neighbor says "...I could have stayed but the 'powers that be' made it so onerous to stay that I just had to leave..."

Some Lyons residents are use to going days without utilities after major winter storms. They have septic systems so the loss of the sewage treatment plant doesn't effect them. They have wells so the loss of the water system doesn't effect them. They have portable generators so the loss of electrical service doesn't effect them. Or perhaps a mix of coping strategies. But the biggest difference is the mindset. Some just prefer self sufficiency and dislike others telling them how to conduct their affairs. The officials have an impossible communication problem at the meetings that organized to spread the news. It is a mixed audience.

A town official says "...we really need everyone to leave town so we can do our job..."

This leaves many wondering why do they want us to leave? They think "we're not causing problems with their job." Suspicions arise. The statements official made at the town meetings about resource utilization and scarcity do not begin to cover what they are talking about.

Think of the pace of progress on a stretch of road work. We see flagmen guiding traffic. We see safety officials overseeing coordinating a mix of activities with a lot of stop, wait an then go. We see construction workers taking a pace that suggests maybe a few of them aren't working 100%. It is all going on so the public is safe because normal life is occurring happening alongside the job site.

But what if the public isn't present? What if there is no one foolish enough to step in front of a moving bucket loader is within 15 miles? Did you know that bucket loaders can exceed 25 MPH while making turns? We didn't until we saw them racing about the shoulders of Rt. 66 creating dust plumes. If the Chinese saw it they would blush saying "we didn't know the Americans could build faster then us". Or for sci-fi fans, it resembles a Borg ship regenerating itself from the inside out after a big phaser blast. We toured Lyons for only an hour. In that time we observed at least these improvements:

  • addition 5th St bridge repairs
  • road into Welch Ct area from Old South St. Vrain
  • trees cleared from Apple Valley
  • power line repair in at least 4 location
  • 3 road repairs in south Lyons
  • several road crews on Rt. 66
  • a steady stream of dump trucks coming in from points to the east
  • bridge work on 2nd Ave

It is impressive to watch. Do you want to watch it or do you want it done? Try not to gripe. Instead, think of the mighty party we're going to have when we return.