On Floods and Family

How you can help with the ongoing flood relief effort

By Natalie Hansen

One of the best things about being part of Ram Country is the camaraderie among students and the community. People from all walks of life attend Colorado State University, and the Fort Collins community at large is amazingly supportive of the University and the students. When tragedy strikes, Rams can be counted on to pull together and put in effort to solve the problems at hand and assist their fellow Coloradans.

Shortly after school started for the fall semester, our state was hit with what some are now calling a “100 or even 500 year storm.” The rain seemed pretty innocent when it started on Sept. 9; it was deemed a sign of fall’s arrival, and maybe even a welcome change of pace from the 90 degree temperatures that had decided to hang around well into the end of summer. Even when water began to build up, people could be seen splashing and playing in the new mini lakes. But by days two and three of the now relentless rain, it became apparent things were not looking good for those near water sources in Colorado. President Obama and Governor Hickenlooper declared a national emergency, and sent members of the Coast Guard and National Guard to help with evacuations and rescues.

By the time the storm finally moved out on Sept. 15, roads had been destroyed, citizens of some mountain towns were cut off from communication and fresh drinking water, lives had been lost, and thousands had been evacuated from their homes. According to the Cooperative Research Institute for Environmental Sciences in Boulder, the Front Range area experienced 10+ inches of rain fall during the seven day period of flooding, with Boulder seeing nearly 17 inches of rain. Around 80 buildings on the CU Boulder campus suffered damage, and more than 400 students were displaced during flooding. The flood area encompassed 17 counties and 1,918 square miles.  9 News states that as of Sept. 20, 82 people are still missing in Larimer County, 5,900 across the affected area are still under mandatory evacuation and eight people were killed. The recovery effort will cost millions and will take years.

CSU is no stranger to the havoc a flood can cause, due to the 1997 flood. Fort Collins was again affected by the 2013 flooding. and the community spent a few days under essential lockdown with I-25 and all bridges over the Poudre River closed. Luckily, the CSU campus area remained safe with no damage. School was cancelled on Friday, Sept. 13 due to the road closures, and many students and faculty who live away from the center of Fort Collins were evacuated and experienced loss. However, it didn’t take long for CSU to come together to start contributing to the flood relief effort.

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Delta Sigma Pi members at the flood cleanup. Photo courtesy of Evan Fuellenbach and Delaney Hunt

The CSU Rams football team wore special Colorado flag decals in the shape of a raindrop on their helmets during their nationally televised road game against Alabama on Sept. 21. Head Coach McElwain and his staff wore the decals on their clothing as well, to help raise awareness of the tragedy back home. CSU Cares, a fund formed after the 2012 High Park fires to help those in the CSU community affected by natural disasters, has designed t-shirts featuring the raindrop logo. The $10 shirts come in green or Aggie orange, and will be available at CSU Bookstore locations beginning Sept. 27. All proceeds directly benefit flood relief efforts.

Delta Sigma Pi, the College of Business’ fraternity, wasted no time getting their hands dirty for flood relief. The Mu Rho chapter at CSU helped out with cleanup efforts in the area shortly after the initial flood.

With the long road ahead, it’s important that every Ram help the relief efforts in any way they can. It can be as simple as purchasing one of the orange CSU Cares shirts from the bookstore and wearing it to the Orange Out football game against University of Texas at El Paso this Saturday, Sept. 28. You can visit the Colorado Flood Relief Facebook page to find opportunities to donate time, money or food to victims of the flood. This particular outlet is a great chance to help other affected areas in Colorado outside of Larimer County. Help Colorado Now has drop-off locations in Loveland for material items like clothing, hygiene products and cleaning items. If you know of a fellow Ram displaced by the flooding, you can offer a couch to crash on, or your own two hands to help them move or clean up their damaged home.

Always check that you are donating to a reputable agency if you choose that route, and keep in mind that volunteers will be needed for relief efforts long past the end of the year. Thankfully, a good number of us in the CSU community were spared from the major tragedies the past few weeks, but not all were so lucky. Across the state, other Coloradans are facing an uncertain future in terms of a place to live. This includes our family at CU Boulder; a sports rivalry has never precluded either of us from supporting the other when they need it the most. Every little bit you can provide will help the relief effort. Here in Ram Country, we take care of each other and put others before ourselves. Even in the face of disaster, this is what makes Colorado and CSU a great place to be.


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