Those were the words Jim Mathews used to describe the devastating flooding from the South Platte River that forced his family to evacuate their family farm in Greeley, Colo.
Mathews, an OOIDA life member and member of the Association’s Board of Directors, told Land Line on Monday, Sept. 16, that his family has lived along the river since 1958, but that this was the first time water had ever reached the two houses on the property.
Mathews said his wife, Cory, and his 85-year-old mother had to be rescued on Friday after first refusing to leave their homes, believing the water would recede before getting to their houses.
“It hit so bad and so quick that they had to rescue Cory and my mom with boats,” he said.
It then took rescue workers more than two hours to drive his wife and mom to his nephew’s house, which is only a few miles away.
Family members and friends helped round up the Mathews’ cattle, first moving them to land across the river, then by horse trailer about 30 miles away from the flooding.
“When things like this happen, people and their help, it just really shines,” he said.
He said his mom’s house, a 110-year-old farmhouse, now has about three feet of water “just flowing like the river” through it, while his place, which sits on higher ground, has about a foot of standing water in it.
“It’s been a tough few days and we are going to have a lot of tough days ahead of us,” Mathews said. “We’re alive and well and our livestock’s safe, so I guess we’ve got a lot to thank the good Lord for.”
Media reports indicate that at least six people have died as a result of the flooding and as many as 1,000 are unaccounted for in the hardest hit areas in Colorado.
A major disaster declaration for the state of Colorado was signed by President Barack Obama on Sunday, Sept. 15, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, for severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides there.
Search-and-rescue operations are continuing to try to rescue those stranded by flooding.
Flooding has washed out the road so Mathews said he’s not sure when they will be able to assess the damage.
For now, he is staying in his truck, while his wife and mom stay with relatives.
“I guess we could sit on the street corner and cry, but that won’t do us any good,” he said. “We’ll just keep our chins up and go on.”
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