Dealing With The Boulder Deluge

As the saying goes, be careful what you pray for, you just might get it.

At this writing, my sister Sara, in Boulder, Colo., has 5 inches of water in her basement. The deadly storm system that flooded the Northern Rockies last week came as a shock, since a drought had plagued Boulder for months. This deluge was one for the record books.

“The whole town’s been praying for rain for ages,” Sara mused, trying to muster her famous sense of humor as her furniture – beds, sofas, a piano – floated below. She was in shock, too. At almost 69, she’d spent the night and early morning hours hauling her most treasured items, such as photo albums, up the stairs to safety.

Thankfully, her grown son Clay was there – a blessing she readily acknowledges. He’s been out of work and had to move in with her sometime back, a situation neither saw as optimal but necessary. Often dispirited in his job search, Clay has struggled to keep positive.

But in this crisis especially, his being there is clearly recognized as a Godsend. Among other things, he immediately thought of the electrical danger, making sure the circuit breaker was shut off and all electronics were unplugged. His physical strength and cool head saved the night.

Sara called me just to tell someone, anyone, what was happening to her. (Hawaii’s time zone is a boon for middle-of-the-night Mainland phone calls.) Venting at first, her words soon became a graceful enumeration of reasons for gratitude.

“I feel for the people who live near Boulder Creek,” she began, “and Estes Park. The people in the mountains have it the worst because of the rock slides and nothing to stop it since the fires two years ago.”

Only nine months ago she’d bought flood insurance FEMA offered Boulder residents.

“You know how I hate to part with money,” chuckled never-pays-retail Sara. “I just felt the $500 a year might be worth it one day.”

Then, she talked about the timing of the wedding. The day before the Monday night torrent, her other son Cameron got married. Guests, including my husband Jerry and me, experienced a sunny, dry, 97-degree Boulder at fun outdoor events. The partly outdoor reception was held at a nearby farm, whose windy, dirt roads and surrounding lawn are now surely a washed-out, muddy mess.

All the guests had flown out of Boulder Monday just before the rains began in earnest, including my daughter Joy, who’d been sleeping in the basement bedroom where water poured through the window well and down the walls.

Only a year-and-a-half ago, Cameron was on a 13-year path toward Franciscan priesthood, living in Italy for six years. Sara had given up hope of seeing him much, and, well, a wife and grandbaby were out of the realm of possibility.

She prayed, though. “For every prayer he prays for a life of celibacy, I pray two prayers for a grandbaby,” she joked. Then one day he decided that priesthood wasn’t the life he was meant for. And, by the way, the wedding-goers also were celebrating March-born baby Gianna, Sara’s first grandchild.

In the Old Testament book of Numbers, Chapter 11, some of the Israelites are grumbling at God about the healthy manna he had bountifully provided after bringing them out of slavery in Egypt.

“The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, ‘If only we had meat to eat!'”

So, God, through Moses, basically said – and I paraphrase: You want meat, you ingrates, I’ll give you meat. Then he flooded their camps with quail for a month until it made them sick. Quail for 600,000 is a lot of quail. So, when even Moses doubted God’s provision, God famously said, “Is the Lord’s arm too short?”

I’m not suggesting that God brought this flood or told Sara to buy insurance. Nonetheless, Sara’s faith and attitude of gratitude is certain to help her navigate through the huge mess she’s facing.