The following column appeared in the print edition of the Loveland Reporter Herald several years ago. I am posting it again–during this second devastating flood–as a reminder of how well our communities come together in times of crisis.
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The phone call came at noon that day—the Sunday after the Big Thompson Flood in 1976.
I was a mental health worker at the Larimer County Mental Health Clinic.
Fellow therapist, Ed Callahan called. All mental health workers were called to assist with the aftermath of the flood.
Ed and I were assigned to set up an intake station at the temporary morgue located in the old Loveland Memorial Hospital near Douglas and Sixth Street in Loveland.
Our job was to get basic information from family and friends of those missing in the flood: name, age, gender, clothing, physical appearance, rings, tattoos, scars, etc.
We didn’t know that the force of the water left bodies stripped of identifying markers.
That Sunday the National Guard rescued over 800 people from canyon walls, trees and rooftops, but hundreds remained missing or separated from their families.
I was humbled and inspired by the patience and courage of those who brought terrifying experiences to my intake desk. One moment a loved one was within arm’s reach, and the next moment swept away in horrific darkness and noise.
Over the next days and months the community pulled together to rescue, mourn, rebuild and remember.
This summer’s fires brought communities together once again to rescue, mourn, rebuild and remember.
Here in the Front Range—as in other parts of the country—we do a great job of coming together in times of crisis.
In flood and fire men and women risk their lives to save people and property. Others work tirelessly and generously to help rebuild lives.
Yet, once a crisis has past, we often return to becoming a people divided by ideologies. We come together in times of concrete crises but are often poles apart in the realm of ideas.
Our county faces challenges in almost every arena. I wonder if we could begin to heed the words of Henry Ford: “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”