LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. -- As pools of water begin to dry up from the Big Thompson flood in Larimer County, we’re learning more about the destructive forces.
The flooding destroyed 15,000 homes in the county and damaged 4,500. As for businesses, 200 were destroyed and 500 were damaged.
Cleanup efforts have been going on for days, but the heartbreak will last a little longer.
“I’ve been here 21 years,” said Kay Dykes, the owner of Canyon Collectables Antique Flea Market in Loveland.
“Four days we’ve shoveled mud,” she says about removing the brown muck from inside the 10,000-square foot building on Highway 34 and Glade Road.
Several pricey, irreplaceable items are now worthless rubbish on the side of the road. It’s all thanks to a monstrous, oozing Big Thompson River.
“It came in the back of building, pushed the wall in,” Dykes said. “So all the mud came in.”
Nearly two feet of mud has covered the building. It’s caked from wall to wall. But the mud and the loss of revenue aren't the issues that upset Dykes the most.
“It’s the loss of camaraderie, of friends,” she said.
About 110 vendors are now out of business, and also out their pieces from the past.
“All that stuff is gone and you’ll never find it again,” Dykes said.
Around the corner, ferocious flood waters were continuing to attack homes on Thursday night when the flooding began across the state.
“It crested on Thursday night,” flood victim Pam Frey said. “We evacuated. We came back Friday and assessed the damage.”
The flood waters at Frey’s home have filled the garage with four feet of water and mud, damaging nearly everything inside it. The raging waters have even moved their shed 20 feet to the middle of the driveway.
“My husband has been running the Bobcat since the first day of cleanup,” Frey said.
That was Friday, and there are still mounds and mounds of mud that need to go.
For Daniel Lukenso, another homeowner in the area, it wasn't mud he had to deal with, but two feet of flood water that seeped into his basement. Pumps have removed most of it, and he now counts himself among the lucky ones.
“I really felt the Lord sent his angel to hold back the windows,” Lukenso said. “If you had seen the water, how high it was in windows, it was a miracle.”
In reality, most flood victims in the area feel fortunate they have their lives. Two women in Larimer County are presumed dead.