On the Bright Side of Disaster: Lessons from the Colorado Flood


The rain has finally ceased, the sun is out and there has never been more love and caring energy in Boulder. Being a mecca for spirituality and consciousness Boulderites understand non-attachment and yet trauma and loss does not magically go away because one lives in the "Boulder bubble". Many lost everything. It will take time to move through the range of emotions our community is experiencing. It was scary - men and women went out in the storm in shoulder height water to take down fences to help divert water away from homes. Flash floods were raging in the pitch black of night while sirens sounded. Many yogis and neighbors worked around the clock digging trenches and putting up barricades to direct the relentless water out of harms way. Countless streets and roads are destroyed, totally washed out and the asphalt cracked in pieces.

Our house lucked out but others in our neighborhood, even next door to us did not fare so well.  Other than houses directly in the flood path (old seasonal creeks and drainages) it seemed entirely random which properties took in water and which did not.

Our friend who was house sitting for us was a champion because our neighborhood had rapids rushing through it and she evacuated with our cat yet still found a way to keep her watchful eye on the house. Even her dad came over and helped her open the hatch door to our cellar which was miraculously dry.















We live on 6th St in Boulder and yet one block over (exactly parallel to our house) the street was destroyed. That's me in the picture above surveying the damage.

Many families are displaced.  Towns just adjacent to us like Jamestown and Lyons are all but destroyed. This video sums up how frightening it was in the mountain towns of Boulder:

Long after the rains our streets continue to be filled with the sounds of shovels, pumps, helicopters, saws, and mostly rushing water that never was audible before. There are piles and piles of debris and mounds of now bone dry river silt which gets stirred into the air we breathe the minute a car drives by.

On the bright side of disaster, human beings always seem to show up at their best with compassion, love and generosity to help others. We were out of town during the worst of the storms and were touched by the support we received not only from friends all over the world, but our friends at home who wrote us in Indonesia offering to check on our home despite being in the middle of their own mess and the danger of getting around town.

Everyone you talk to knows at least one person who is housing a flood refugee or two whether human or animal. Our 90 Monkeys team has been showering in our guest bathroom since their water is still contaminated up the canyon. Almost all the conversations I've heard in passing have been what I call "Flood talk" - ie. people checking in, comparing stories, offering to help, or giving advice on what to do about mold or debris.  Relief is desperately needed for those who are still homeless, who have no clean water to drink, and lost their possessions and homes.

In true Hanuman spirit, the Hanuman Festival has organized a huge benefit event for November 16th that I will be teaching at along with local Boulder teachers Richard Freeman and Gina Caputo. Also joining us will be Janet Stone and musicians DJ Drez and MC Yogi. 100% of the proceeds will go towards the Colorado Flood Relief Fund.  I feel grateful to the Hanuman Festival, these teachers and musicians - as well as Yoga Journal, Give Back Yoga Foundation and prAna for lending their support to this event! Hanuman Festival is also donating $20 from every Gratitude Pass for the 2014 festival sold until Oct 31st.

Visit www.HanumanFestival.com for more information.

Our community was so disappointed about the cancellation of the annual Estes Park Yoga Journal LIVE conference due to the roads to Estes Park being destroyed. Our community truly looks forward to that gathering and in some ways needed the yoga love more than ever. Though the flood was clearly out of our direct control, we still feel so sorry that so much destruction in our state created this problem for YJ LIVE.  :( We hope the Hanuman Festival benefit on the 16th will make up for it in some small way while raising much needed funds for our state.

If you can not be at the benefit, consider making a donation to the Colorado Relief Fund.