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Estes Park rebounds 5 years after historic floods

ESTES PARK, Colo. -- This week marks the five-year anniversary of the 2013 Colorado floods. They were some of the costliest and most damaging the state has ever seen.

Estes Park is one area that was hit hard. People were trapped and some needed to be rescued by zip lines.

Roadways and highways were washed out. The downtown streets were rivers.

But walking through downtown Estes Park this week, it was clear the crowds are back. The restaurants and shops are open, and the average tourist might  not even realize what the community went through five years ago.

“I've never seen anything like that, “said Julie Pieper, who owns two restaurants, mama Roses and Poppy's, in the town with her husband.

“At Poppy’s, we basically lost everything from about a four foot level down -- all the booths all the chairs.”

It took months to renovate, and with no flood insurance, it required a few loans. But five years later, business is back.

Down the road, the Fish Creek corridor was also devastated by the floods.

The roads and utilities were wiped out. But today everything is rebuilt. The $20 million project restored the road, the multiuse trail and all the utilities.

“It was a really devastated portion of our community, so what we see today is a totally different story,” said Kate Rusch, the public information officer for the town.

At the Scott Ponds open space area, an overrun with flood waters, the town has made changes to improve the flood design and make the area enjoyable again.

“I enjoy the return of the wildlife,” resident Joe Holtzman said.

His neighbor Barry Power agreed.

“You can fish, you can swim, you can canoe, you can paddle board," he said.

Some individuals might be struggling, but Estes Park as a town is back, and many say it’s better than ever.

“There really was some good lemonade made from those lemons of that disaster,” said Greg Muhonen, the director of Public Works for the town.

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