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Historic Floods Couldn’t Sink Community Of Lyons (page 3)

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Raetta Holdman By Raetta Holdman
CBS4 Producer
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CBS4 SPECIAL
chase This story was featured on the CBS4 Special "American Red Cross: A Colorado Century"



The Red Cross is honoring Fire Chief J.J. Hoffman, Boulder County Sheriff Sgt. Kevin Parker and St. Vrain Market owners Connie and Neal Sullivan for providing leadership to the community of Lyons in the face of the flooding disaster.

He drove on Highway 66 until he hit the National Guard roadblock.

Then he headed out on foot, hitting the high trails he often ran on weekends.

After making contact with Connie and the kids to make sure they were okay, he headed to the market.

“Water was coming in from a number of places,” he said. He mobilized his friends to make sure the groceries and supplies reached the people who needed them before the water ruined them.

Perishables like cold cuts and sandwich meats went not only to evacuees but the first responders.

“That’s what fed our emergency responders for the next couple of days,” Parker said.

“Things to keep them fortified,” Neil said. “They were working the hardest so we wanted to make sure that a lot of the food we had available was going to the people that in many ways, the town was depending on the most.”

The St. Vrain Market retrieved about 80 percent of its stock.

But the Sullivans were not alone in opening their business doors to help.

“Also the local hardware store,” Hoffman said. “We were running out of shovels and lamps. We needed material for flagging and batteries.

Lyons Fire Chief J.J. Hoffman (credit: CBS)

Lyons Fire Chief J.J. Hoffman (credit: CBS)

And the Sullivans’ generosity was paid back as just how much damage the market suffered became apparent.

“There was a wave of volunteers, people who were staying in the town who were walking down the street with shovels,” Neil said. “The front of the market was blocked by close to 3 feet of silt and mud, so we had a lot of people who were helping.”

That spirit of helping made the difference in Lyons while the community realized it was time to leave.

“”The sun would come out,” said Connie. “People would go and look around but I think it took a little time for people to accept the fact we were going to be leaving Lyons for a while.

“When we left we really had no idea when we would be coming back. There was a lot to do in those first few days and it was really minute to minute as to how we would get out. People were asking questions ‘Can we drive out? Can we take our our vehicles? And where are we going to go?’ “

And for those who stayed during the days Lyons was isolated, it was a matter of working together.

“I think that community involvement was really key,” Parker said. “We preached that every day we were stuck in town to the people in town and the community that we’re here all stuck together and we need the community to help us take care of everybody else.”

“The community did come together. Not just businesses but citizens. Local contractors, people with backhoes, loaders, average citizens walking down the street,” Hoffman said. “They helped save people’s lives. They’re all heroes.”

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