Several years later, we reflect back upon the events of that day with a sense of surreal awe and we’re reminded of the perseverance of the human spirit.
My, how time flies. As the years pass every once in awhile we are reminded of the flood of 2013. The day started with a phone call early in the morning. Our owner was still in the shower, and could hear his brother’s voice on the answering machine. His voice was calm, but I could sense a tone of alarm in his delivery. He could make out that he was watching the news and concerned over our safety. Our owner got dressed, realizing that he must have missed one of life’s little memos, and flipped on a local channel.
The newscasters had left calm behind them, and were breathlessly explaining that Colorado was in deep trouble. Torrential rains were causing mudslides, road closures, deaths and tremendous property damage. Lyons, at the base of the mountain, was being evacuated, and other areas like Estes Park, were isolated due to mountain roads washing away. The lodge had a wedding scheduled for that day, so he headed to the lodge to see if it was undamaged.
The lodge itself was fine, though the river had risen 6 to 8 feet and was kissing the underside of the bridge that leads to the meadow. Realizing there was nothing that could be done, he and other staff headed back inside and met the bride for the afternoon wedding. Half the guests, including the bride and groom had made it up the mountain, but the other half were stranded. Making the situation worse, our chef and banquet captain had been evacuated, while the bar and marketing managers were driving around trying to find an open road up the mountain. All the vendors were likewise unable to make it, but the lodge did have power, alcohol and food.
Under the best of circumstances, weddings can be stressful. The circumstances before the bride and groom that day were beyond unfair. Go forward and get married in the middle of a natural disaster, or cancel and postpone for a later date? Add in, the lodge had only a skeleton staff and all parties were understandably shaken. Everyone met in the lobby and discussed the options and the decision was made to go ahead and try. Retrospectively, the courage exhibited by all was amazing, but in the middle of a calamity, there’s little time for introspection.
So they called the florist who was being evacuated by air, and received permission to pick up the flowers from her shop in Estes. One owner jumped into the kitchen while the other got in his truck and headed to Estes. On the way, he was stopped at a National Guard checkpoint and told the road ahead wasn’t safe and was crumbling. He explained the situation, and was politely informed that he might not make it back, if he could make it to Estes at all. Realizing that he was in too far to turn around, and not wanting to fail at getting flowers, he went for it. He got the flower shop, loaded the truck and headed back. The road conditions had deteriorated to the point that he was actually dodging basketball sized boulders coming off the mountain as he zigged and zagged back to the lodge. It was undoubtedly stupid, definitely ill advised, and one of the scariest truck rides of his life.
So with flowers, food and half the guests, the wedding commenced. In the end it all worked out. The bride and groom were amazing, the guests understanding, and the few staff on hand able to pull it all together. As memorable weddings go – this one will never be forgotten. The experience forged friendships that endure to this day, and we’re still grateful for the fortunate streak of luck that made it all possible. The ensuing days and months challenged all in the area in extreme fashion. They were isolated, without roads or communication, and had to cancel and refund countless other events. Despite it all, all of our staff and their families made it through uninjured, and were able to use the business’s resources to help many in the area less fortunate then ourselves.