The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.
Estes Park, Colorado, September 20, 2013. American Red Cross volunteer Bob Wallace, along with Red Cross volunteer colleagues Virginia Hart and Katie Rowley, stopped at Wind River Ranch and Christian Family Conference Center in Estes Park, Colorado, to see if assistance is needed after the recent flooding.
Nick Harold, Ranch Foreman, was present when water came crashing down the mountainside that sits adjacent to the ranch residence, offices, conference center, and horse corrals. He described the deluge as a literal wall of water. “We had 54 horses in the corral. At one point the horses were up to their withers in water,” said Harold.
Water had loosened the soil on the mountainside, sending down huge piles of mud and broken trees. “When the mudslide let loose, it made a horrible noise, a grinding of rocks and the snapping of trees,” said Harold. “We had just put up a new fence around the corral, but I worried it would not hold, and that we would find a corral full of horses with broken legs,” said Harold.
To save the residence and conference center, Harold mobilized his crew who used the ranch’s earth-moving equipment to clear mud and sludge to allow the water to keep moving. At the time of the flood there were 30 church pastors and wives present for a conference. “They all pitched in with shovels to help clear the silt and sediment out of the stream of water,” said Harold. The group worked 20 hours straight and were rewarded by successfully protecting the structures from damage.
Once the structures were protected, Harold said he was almost afraid to go to the corral. He imagined it would be filled with horses in agony due to numerous broken legs, and that his next task would be to euthanize those critically hurt. To his surprise they were all unharmed. The new fence had blocked the debris from inundating the corral. He and his crew quickly moved the horses out of the damaged area and relocated them to their summer pasture.
At the end of our discussion with Harold, we made sure he knew that in Estes Park a Red Cross shelter is available where overnight accommodations, three meals a day, nursing assistance, and disaster mental health services are available. He countered by inviting us all to dinner. “Our cooks are wonderful and prepare meals for 30-40 every night. Three more at the last minute will not be a problem,” he said. We were touched by the offer and would have loved to join them, but due to the late hour and the long drive back to our headquarters, we reluctantly got back into our 4×4 vehicle and pointed it towards Denver.
Story Credit: Robert W. Wallace/American Red Cross