Nowell Flood Update (and how you can help)

*This post originally began with song lyrics, then Benny woke me up this morning and told me I mixed the songs up and posted something I would never have posted if I weren’t so tired and had thought (and sang) through it completely. For those of you who read it, I apologize for the mistake! I make those a lot. ;)*

The flooding we’ve had here in Colorado this week has been terrifying. Unless you don’t have TV, or newspapers, or an internet connection (how are you reading this?) you have probably seen the pictures and videos of our scary spots. I say “our” because communities come together during tragedies.

My angle in the second picture is different, but if you look at the railing it will give you an idea of the water depth and the bike/walking path that is underwater. The third pic is the same bridge from the opposite side.

Boulder Bridge

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It’s difficult not to stay glued to the screen as devastation unfolds, hoping and praying those I love are safe. It’s frustrating being so close and not being able to get to those who need help. It’s maddening to read people’s rude comments on news stories and not turn into hurricane Niki, obliterating them for their stupidity and insensitivity. I’ve walked a fine line between faith and fury this week.

Our family lives in north central Denver. Our ministry, church, and part-time jobs are 25-35 minutes north and northwest of us in Boulder, Lafayette, and Longmont. Our house was not affected at all. We were never in any danger as the only major water near us is a big water park a block away. But, many people we love have been isolated and trapped, or dealing with flooded basements, or worrying about loved ones they can’t reach.

I cried today when we finally heard that our dear friends, Bob and Betty, (Our executive pastor and his wife/church secretary) were rescued after spending a day and night under a tarp on the side of the hill above their home as the floods raged below them. I am so grateful they are okay!

My friend Alyssa’s parents are trapped as well with her father needing medical attention. We just got news a few hours ago that the National Guard will be flying them out tomorrow.

Benny and I spent some time in Boulder today checking out the park where we host our Saturday meals and checking in with some of our street friends. Everyone we talked with seemed fine and we haven’t heard of any of our friends being missing. I hope we don’t. The rumors about the homeless being turned away at one of the emergency evacuation sites were true, but the situation was corrected pretty quickly with the Red Cross, the City of Boulder, and the site in question saying it never should have happened.

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Here’s the area of the park we host the meal. As you can see, it is fine. The creek isn’t very far away, but we think the worst is behind us and we’re going ahead with the meal tomorrow night. There are people who depend on us to be there EVERY week, but the food is only part of what we try to do.  Clean socks, encouragement, hope, listening, prayers, looking someone in the eye and speaking life into them…it’s what being a friend is about.

I’ve had moments when I was completely overwhelmed by the enormity of the need in my community. It’s paralyzing and makes me feel inadequate. I’ll bet you’ve been there too. Rather than holding on to those feelings, I started making a plan. Realistically I know I can only do so much, but my much with your much adds up to a lot of muchness. So how do we help?

Here are SEVEN ways to show compassion when disaster strikes your community:

  1. Donate bottles of water, bedding, and other needed items to evacuation sites.
  2. Donate food to your local food bank, and pet food to animal shelters. Their supplies run low during disasters.
  3. Check on your neighbors. They will appreciate it!
  4. Open your home to family and friends who are displaced. Ask others for help if feeding extra people is taxing on your family budget.
  5. Be the middle man. Don’t have stuff to donate? Collect stuff from others and drive it to the needed locations.
  6. Volunteer with cleanup efforts. The more people help, the faster your community will be back on its feet.
  7. Donate money, but don’t complain about the charities overseeing the work. If you don’t trust that your money is going to help those in need, then get off your ass and FIND one you trust. Help them – no excuses. Complaining (whether it’s founded or not) doesn’t absolve you from responsibility.

Here are a few don’ts for you:

  1. Don’t donate teddy bears and other crap lying around your house when charities need money, food, and supplies. That sounds harsh, but it happens. A lot.
  2. Don’t point the finger of blame on an agency when things don’t move quickly enough for you. The response time is NEVER fast enough when you are in the middle of an emergency.
  3. Don’t give up hope. There is ALWAYS hope, and it may come in ways that surprise you.
  4. Don’t get mad when you see stuff like this:

Colorful Colorado Waves

Several of my friends are posting pics like this on Facebook. They aren’t being disrespectful. We’re all trying to get through this and sometimes you just need a laugh. For some it is too soon for joking like this, but for others, it’s a much-needed tension breaker. If you want to get mad about something, let it be about the jerks who are posting that this flood is God’s judgment on Colorado. Before I get all caught up in that, let me bring this post to a proper close.

There are plenty of ways to help. SEVENS focuses on our street friends who have ALL been effected by the rain and flooding. If you want to help us help our friends by making a tax-deductible donation, click on the “DONATE” page button at the top of the page. To donate through PayPal, click on the yellow button on the side of the page. PayPal donations are NOT tax-deductible at this time. If you’re a local and have extra sleeping bags, coats, shoes or boots, bottled water, or ready-to-eat food you want to donate, let me know where I can meet you to pick them up. nikinowell@gmail dot com.

Thank you! 🙂

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Filed under Making a Difference, Niki, Reaching Out, Uncategorized

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