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Volunteers help flood victims in Lyons regain normalcy

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LYONS, Colo. -- Even many months later, residents of Lyons struggled to get back to normal after devastating floods ravaged the city.

On Saturday, dozens of volunteers tried to ease their burden.

"It's beautiful. You hear the water running. It's the first thing you hear when you wake up in the morning," said Lyons flood victim Tom Lewis.

It was the beauty of the Little Thompson River that drew Tom to make this home for 18 years.

But last September, that beauty turned violently ugly.

"I heard all the glass explode behind me. This entire destruction happened in probably less than one minute," said Lewis, describing how a massive, unprecedented surge of water hit his home, ripping away about half of it.

"My wife, Candy, said, ‘You know we're going to die,’" Lewis said.

He told her they wouldn't, but it was a close call.

"If I had stayed on the west side of the kitchen, I probably would not have had a prayer," said Lewis.

"This obviously was the kitchen. That was the living room. That was the laundry room underneath," he said, as he motioned towards the sections of his home that were destroyed by the rushing water. "The rest of what was in that house, I don't know where any of it is."

The flood waters swept Lewis' vintage Alfa Romeo about a third of a mile downstream from his house.

Saturday, about seven months later, volunteers worked to recover the car.

About 65 volunteers descended on the Blue Mountain area of Lyons.

They dug. They pulled. They raked. They cleaned.

The group worked an area about three miles along the river and beyond to separate debris into piles of metal, wood and trash — these piles were once people’s belongings.

"For the people who are hurting, this is a lifetime event that is never going to go away," said volunteer and resident Todd Hetheringtonson.

But, at least, volunteers hoped their work Saturday would help eases some of the pain.

Eventually, they untangled Lewis' piano from the cluster of debris.

"It'll never make music again," Lewis said.

But he said he knows the rushing sounds from the river will be music to his ears, once he rebuilds in the place he loves.

Residents near the Little Thompson said they’re grateful for the help, but sometimes feel a little invisible.

There’s still a lot of debris to clean up and progress is slow.

Volunteers of America started RSVP Flood Recovery Program a month after the floods last year and have attracted more than 500 volunteers.