As many as 1,000 residents of the Boulder County town of Lyons are expected to return home this weekend, following more than a month in exile after the community was evacuated during the epic mid-September floods. The massive swelling of the St. Vrain River cut the popular mountain town “into seven islands without a bridge,” in the words of one town hall volunteer, with particular destruction in the confluence area on the west side of town where north and south St. Vrain creeks come together.
The homecoming residents will be treated Saturday to the annual Lyons “Spooktacular Halloween” parade and celebration in Sandstone Park.
“We want to bring back a bit of normalcy to the town as sort of a welcome home to celebrate the area that’s getting back utilities,” Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen said to Longmont Times-Call reporter Whitney Bryen. “This will be the first time we’re getting the whole community back together since the flood, so it’s a big deal.”
The festivities will be open only to local residents and business owners this year, but that’s still an important step, coming as it does after such widespread devastation and dislocation.
The town’s infrastructure sustained heavy damage, with electric, water and sewage systems all being knocked out. Most of the residents returning this weekend are those who live north of Main Street, where utilities are expected to be back on line. There’s a domino effect, Simonsen told I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS. “You have to have sewer before you can have water, and you have to have water before you can have gas. We have started the domino.
“We’ll be lighting up all the Main Street business sector on Friday, giving them a full 24 hours before people come home. The Halloween party goal is that our residents can come home and get ready to come to the Halloween celebration, go out for dinner or a drink and then be able to go to their own homes. The town is not back to normal by any means. Construction is heavy and the roads are a mess.”
Town Hall was damaged in the flooding and Simonsen and her staff have been operating out of Lyons Elementary School. The school kids, meanwhile, have been going to school in Longmont and are scheduled to return home after Thanksgiving holiday. Even the highway checkpoint into town will be lifted during daylight hours beginning Monday.
“It’s great to be lifted, but it’s also important to know that we have maybe 300 people who aren’t going to be able to go home for several more weeks,” Simonsen said. “My goal has always been to have everyone home for the holidays.”
To the still displaced residents, the town posted this message as part of one of its recent flood updates: “You’re not forgotten, we’re not giving up on you. Our promise to you is that we are working as hard as humanly possible for you.”
Slowly but surely, Lyons is coming back.