ANDERSON TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- The recent flooding in Colorado devastated the Rocky Mountain region.
In addition to being blamed for at least eight deaths, the flooding displaced hundreds of others from their homes and ravaged entire communities. Many of those people were lucky to escape with their lives.
Among them were the Groves, an Anderson Township couple that was in Glen Haven, Colo. vacationing with their golden retrievers, Sky and Suka.
Jerry Grove and Dottie Scott Grove, 76 and 70 respectively, wanted to make the trek out to Big Sky country to explore the mountains with their dogs. They decided to leave a third dog, Harper, at home because they considered her too small to handle the terrain.
They rented a cabin for a week in a typically picturesque area in the Rocky Mountains that features a creek with ankle-deep water and a gentle current.
While the Groves were excited about blue skies, fresh air and taking in some of this country's finest natural splendors, their good time was cut short when Mother Nature opened up the skies and floodwaters rushed in.
They admitted being nervous when the water started to rise and reports of the devastation around them started making the evening news. But the Groves remained calm, they said, and knew everything would be alright.
"We knew we would get out eventually. We weren't sure when, but we knew we'd get out," Jerry said.
Little did they know things would quickly change. The couple said they received a phone call telling them a "code red" had been issued and they shouldn't leave their cabin unless "absolutely necessary."
The flooding washed out roadways, overwhelmed bridges and pushed around dangerous debris, making their escape from the area treacherous and somewhat risky. According to an article in the Denver Post, last week's deluge left 18 state and federal highways partly closed by flooding.
The article indicates more than 600,000 residents of Boulder and Larimer counties should expect to wait until next year or longer for construction crews to finish repairing their flooded and damaged highways. Glen Haven is in Larimer County.
Gary Pike, a retired Colorado State Trooper ended up staying with the Groves after his cabin flooded out. The couple called him "very helpful" with their efforts to help others. They used what resources they had to cook food for people in the area who didn't have the means or facilities for cooking.
While the couple was initially confident they'd be able to wait out the storm, Dottie eventually realized her husband was in trouble. He relies on oxygen distributed by an electronic device while he sleeps at night.
In order to get the necessary medical equipment, emergency crews lowered in three canisters of oxygen to firefighters who set up across the creek. Crews built a pulley line and used it to send the oxygen tanks across.
The action allowed them to spend a few more days in their temporary home. But after several days of waiting out the flooding, the couple eventually had to evacuate.
Due to the weather conditions and the closed roads, getting out of the area proved to be a challenge. In order to escape the area, emergency crews set up a zipline for the 70-somethings to use to get across the then-raging rapids.
While the option presented a few unique challenges, there was one issue that could have stopped the rescue effort dead in its tracks. What about Suka and Sky? The couple said they wouldn’t leave if their rescuers couldn’t figure out a way to get their beloved pets across the creek.
To accomplish the feat, firefighters and emergency crews strapped Suka and Sky into harnesses and helped them across the water. It was a sight that brought a moment of levity to people in the devastated community.
"Everyone on both banks were cheering the dogs on as they went across," Dottie said.
The Groves returned to the Tri-State Wednesday after spending time in a Red Cross shelter. They were two of the more than 1,000 people who were forced to utilize Red Cross shelters during the height of the storm, according to an Associated Press report.
The couple said in spite of their adventure, they plan to travel back to Colorado soon. After all, Dottie’s car is still trapped on the other side of river.
"I will be going out again. I need to get my car when they rebuild the small bridges," she said.
Plus, the couple said they would like to let Suka and Sky experience the mountains a little more than they got to this time around.
As for their cabin? The Groves said they received word from friends in the area that the cabin they were staying in had not been affected by the flooding.
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