By Joseph Lekarczyk
Wed., Sept. 18, 6:45 a.m.
In the interest of full disclosure, let it be known the author of this article is married to the Mayor.
The Lyons Board of Trustees (BOT) held an emergency meeting on Tuesday, September 17, at the Lyons Fire Station. In attendance were: Mayor-Pro-Tem Kirk
Udovich, Trustees Sandy Banta, Connie Sullivan, Dan Greenberg, and Dawn Weller. Trustee LaVern Johnson arrived a short while after the meeting began. Mayor Julie Van Domelen was still in transit from Tanzania. Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen and Finance Director Tony Cavalier from Town Staff were also in attendance. In the audience were Gary Berngard of Honeywell Engineering, Rick Ring from the St. Vrain Valley School District, and James Thompson from U.S. Senator Michael Bennet’s office.
Simonsen informed the Board that, “as of 11 a.m., Tuesday, September 17, the Town of Lyons was still in an active search and rescue mode. There are presently forty-six unaccounted-for residents in the 80540 Zip Code area.” She added, “The big picture here is about life, not when are we going to be able tell people when they can get back into their homes and businesses.”
She then gave a quick summery about the status of various aspects of Lyons today.
Bridges & Roads: The McConnell and Second Avenue Bridges are “disconnected,” and not presently usable. The Fifth Avenue Bridge has been reinforced, and is being used on a very limited basis by emergency crews as the only access to the south side of the river. The two bridges on Rte. 36 going toward Estes Park are compromised, but in use (one lane only). Debris and downed power lines are all around town on many streets along the river corridor.
Wastewater Treatment Plant
According to Gary Berngard of Honeywell, the clarifier and digester appear to be intact. The head works is currently underwater. There is “partially treated” sewage in the plant. The collection system (pipes leading to and from the plant) is broken in many locations. The entire area south of the river is “not connected.” Berngard is in contact with people all over the country to try to secure equipment to repair the damage, but Lyons is not the only one in this predicament. He said since all the manholes are totally plugged with debris and mud, every time anyone uses a toilet in Lyons now, the sewage backs up in the system, and it will eventually (if it hasn’t already) start backing up into people’s homes. The Board has issued a “NO FLUSH” order until further notice for anyone within Lyons. Everyone is now required to use port-o-potties, period. No exceptions! Berngard couldn’t give a firm timetable on when the facility could be brought back on line, but he did say, “We have a plan to get the plant back on line.”
The river has complete changed its channel in many areas. Properties that used to be north of the river are now south of it. Lots that used to abut the river are now under the river. Simonsen said that until the Army Corp of Engineers makes a determination of whether they will keep the river where it is, or try to revert it back to its original bed, its very muddy (no pun intended). To further complicate the matter, Cavalier said he had been in contact with officials from the government, and there is something called “Rule 14” which says if people alter the flow of the river, they are responsible for any subsequent consequences. And there are tons of Colorado water rules dating back to the 19th century, which make the path forward a little more cloudy. This, like everything else, will take awhile to sort out.
Condition Of Homes
According to FEMA, which has been conducting assessments, in the area south of Park Street (but not including the houses around the high school) there are 48 houses totaled; 26 that are moderately to severely damaged; and 41 listed as okay. No criteria for those ratings, or addresses for which houses are totaled, but generally speaking, the closer to the river, the greater the damage.
Town Engineer Jim Blankenship has done pressure tests on the water main coming into town, and has determined that there is likely a break in the 12-inch water main between the McConnell Bridge and the Valley Bank. Until that is repaired, there will be no water for the town.
Inline and Poudre are working together. The main power lines that come into town along the south side of Rte. 66 are down, and in the river. They are installing poles on the north side of the highway, and want to attempt to lift the lines and attach them to the new poles. This is one reason the Town Staff wants to limit residents’ access to town. It becomes extremely difficult and very dangerous if people are driving along that stretch of road.
Town Hall has been moved to the library at Lyons Elementary School.
Beginning Monday, September 23, Pre-K students will go to the Hygiene school. All Lyons students, K-12 will attend the old Twin Peaks School at 9th and Main in Longmont. High School students will begin on Monday, September 23; Middle School on Tuesday, September 24; and Elementary School on Wednesday, September 25. Until the SVVSD can set up some sort of bus system (they are trying to set up “park and ride” collection sites around the various areas of Boulder County were people have re-located), parents will need to bring their children to the temporary school. The Lyons Recorder will try to set up some sort of inter-active car-pooling board on our website. There will be a Parents Meeting at Longmont High School (1040 Sunset Street) Wednesday, at 5 p.m., to get more up to date information out to the public.
Clean Up And Repair Efforts/FEMA
All residents who have been impacted in any way (from “I had to pay a babysitter to watch my children while I was at work,” to “my house is gone”) are urged to register with FEMA at the Twin Peaks Mall, and have a sit-down, face to face meeting with a representative. The sooner the better. There is assistance and vouchers available, but only after you get the process started! Go to the Twin Peaks Mall! The FEMA site is in the old Steve & Barry’s site (west side, just south of the old Sears store). If you can’t make it down to the Mall, call 1 (800) 621-3362, or go online to the FEMA website. Business owners should also go to the Mall to start the process.
The process for the Town of Lyons is a little more complicated. FEMA has very complicated and strict rules about the process and timing of each step. If you jump the gun at any point, you will not be able to receive Federal money. Step one, the Emergency Declaration (which says the situation is above and beyond the Town’s ability to deal with, has been taken last Friday). This allows the Town to clear debris (but everything has to be documented, six ways to Sunday, before and after photos, time sheets/pay rates for the work being done, etc.); and emergency protection measures (this means traffic cones and barriers, and port-o-potties, etc., but not personal to protect property from looting and vandalism). The next step is a Major Disaster Declaration. This can only come after FEMA has conducted a community survey to assess what we have, and what is damaged. That is being done, and the Town will make the declaration as soon as possible. This is a very complicated, and important process, and the BOT must move forward with caution if they want Federal money to bring Lyons back to pre-flood levels. Senator Bennet’s aide, James Thompson told of a Colorado town that was impacted by a tornado, and called their disaster center a “recovery center” and therefore was denied money to fund it because “recovery” takes place after the declaration. This town ended up on the hook for $17,000! So you can see what theTrustees are dealing with here.
Residents And Businesses Re-entry
The BOT will allow residents back into town by neighborhoods on Thursday, September 19 (areas that use 5th Avenue Bridge – high school area etc.), Friday, September 20 (Eagle Canyon/Apple Valley), and Saturday, September 21(mid-town, old-town, Stone Canyon). Traffic will be allowed in from noon to 2 p.m., and then again from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., only. This is to allow the work crews to continue with their work. THIS IS VERY FLUID, PLEASE GO TO THE TOWN’S WEBSITE FOR THE MOST ACCURATE INFO! Also, for the sake of the continued progress of the search and rescue efforts, and the ongoing repair work, NO SITE-SEEING, GO DIRECTLY TO YOUR HOME, TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS, AND GET OUT OF TOWN. NO BRINGING SUPPLIES IN FOR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS WHO HAVE ELECTED TO STAY BEHIND. CHILDREN AND PETS ARE DISCOURAGED FROM BEING BROUGHT IN. AND REMEMBER, ABSOLUTELY “NO FLUSHING!” THIS CANNOT BE OVERSTATED!
You will have to get your entry permit at the LifeBridge Church (Wednesday, September 18, until 6 p.m., or on your entry day. Entry day times for passes will be posted on the Town’s website). There will be lines! Don’t expect to drive up at noon, get your pass and go to Lyons. You won’t make the time windows. Get there early, be prepared for waiting, and expect a snafu or two. Bring an ID, and proof of residency (utility bill if possible). Don’t try to get a pass if it’s not your day. You will be denied, and it will slow down the process for everyone.
Business owners will be allowed in all three days, but on a day to day basis. No staying over night. They must hold valid business liscence on record. Again, get the most up to date info from the Town’s website: www.townoflyons.com.
It’s going to be crazy at LifeBridge, and again at the check point (near the Rabbit Mountain turn off). Expect delays; stay patient; be cordial (everyone is a volunteer, and they are trying to help under very stressful circumstances). We are all in this together, and we are all friends and neighbors. Let’s show the nation our LYONS PRIDE!
Bad Water & Pets
We have a confirmed report of a Lyons resident's dog acquiring a case of worms from the flood waters.
They took their dog for a walk through Lyons on Friday before evacuating. Sometime when they turned their backs for a moment the thristy fellow lapped up the bad water. Three days later the pet's stool contained worms. A trained eye isn't needed to stop the problem. Make a number of cross cuts through pet's stool with a stick take a stick to check it. The worms will wave at you. It is pretty gross. Be ready for the sight. You may also notice your pet's eating habits reduced or showing signs of a stomach ache.
If you find worms, your pet should be taken to a vet. Bring a sample of the stool. The doctor will run the sample through a process that let's them check for a range of water borne ills. The treatment is several days on medicine. That should be no lasting effects.
Because there is a several day gestation period, one should not assume that your pet is trouble free while you are riding our your time as an evacuee.