It is a scene that Iowans know all too well, but for parched Colorado, flooding is unfamiliar.
A Des Moines resident is still recovering from what she saw there this weekend.
When Megan Pelkey heads back Colorado, she is used to finding an idyllic mountainous scene but this time, her hometown was in no shape for company.
“I didn’t even recognize Loveland when I first saw it,” said Pelkey, who returned to her current home in Des Moines Tuesday morning.
Her emotions ran the usual course. At first, there was shock and awe, but as the reality of the destructive power of Colorado’s 500-year flood set in, so did the heartache.
“You don’t think it would happen to your hometown, where you’re from, you know?” she said, wiping away tears.
Her father, who’d just beaten cancer, was in no mood to celebrate. Megan and her husband did all they could to help, and then had to tear themselves away.
“But I couldn’t stay to help,” she cried. “I had to come back. I’ve got a life to live, you know? I’ve got work, I’ve got cats I have to feed… I didn’t even think I was gonna make it.”
Road closures plagued the return trip and the flood pictures she took are still haunting her.
“I get back here and hardly anybody even knows what’s going on,” Pelkey said. “That’s why I called you guys, because I don’t see the help that they’re needing.”
Federal aid has reached Colorado and services return as flood waters recede. But as we Iowans know, the emotional damage can be the most difficult to repair.
“It’s everything. It’s gonna take years to get back to where it was.”
So far, the flood has destroyed more than 19,000 homes and killed nine people.
Thousands are still unaccounted for.
President Obama declared a state of emergency there over the weekend.