State of Colorado comes together to help flooding victims across the state

Hundreds of volunteers help flooding victims

DENVER - We have kept close watch over the number of homes damaged and destroyed, and the people affected by the Colorado floods.

Yet the most staggering figure may be the number of Coloradans who pitched in to help.

We have a state overflowing with 7Everyday Heroes.

When the flood waters erased a lifetime of memories.

"Just pieces of the road were dropping off into the river, cars floating down it.  I have never seen anything like it in my life," said a flood victim. And even the hardiest of souls were trapped.

"He doesn't walk real well. He crawled to a point where I could see him. So we knew he was okay," said a Boulder resident.  

Firefighters, law enforcement, and EMTs were there to help, often putting themselves at risk.

Many of them have made careers out of being heroes. For other Coloradans, it is a new endeavor.

In Boulder, a group of friends, drawn together by a Facebook post, became the Mudslingers. They are volunteers helping complete strangers manage the muck.

"It is tragically awesome.  It's sad. It's hard when you show up and people start crying as soon as they see you're here to help.  So, it tugs on the heart strings," said Scott Hinderfeld.

Near Loveland, Sandy's convenience store was hit hard by the flood but any merchandise left unscathed was given away to fellow flood victims.

"These are people who take care of Sandy's so I need to take care of them," said Rose Decker, Sandy's Convenience Store Manager.

And despite the flooding issues in Longmont, residents bought pet supplies and donated them to the Longmont Humane Society.

"The community has responded wonderfully providing for the animals we have been caring for providing cat and dog food, treats, cat litter, cleaning supplies," said Sarah Clusman, Director of Operations, Longmont Humane Society.

Search and rescue teams on the ground worked countless hours. Can you imagine the miles they walked over more than a week?

"The FEMA dogs are trained with a live bark alert.  So, what we're looking for is a really focused, intense bark that will tell us there's someone right here come check it out," said a search and rescue worker.

The air lift operations, thanks to the Colorado National Guard and active forces at Fort Carson, are likely to be second in scope only to Hurricane Katrina relief.  

"This is a sad duty, but a proud duty.  Nothing we'd rather be doing, no place we'd rather be," said Lt. Col. Mitch Utterback, Colorado National Guard.

Hundreds of men and women who have already served their country proudly worked long days pulling people, pets, and personal belongings from harm's way.

"These guys are combat pilots from Iraq and Afghanistan with ten plus years of combat flying experience.  This is nothing to these guys.  That's why they're like Supermen," said Utterback.

"It is one of the most gratifying things you'll ever do, is help out on U.S. soil. This beats any deployment," said Eric Carlson, Operations officer for 2nd Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment.

In just the first five days of the disaster volunteers with the Salvation Army put in more than 700-hours of service.

And in less than week, they had already prepared more than 31,000 meals for first responders and evacuees.

The American Red Cross, which is always at the ready to help, worked around the clock, too.

Many of its volunteers manning phones for the Colorado Flood Relief fundraiser.

Broncos guard Ben Garland was there and can relate to the need. Flames from the Waldo Canyon fire destroyed his childhood home.

"It was an off day, we saw the opportunity to come out here and help out. A lot of the players wanted to come out and help out and do what they could. Especially being from Colorado. Anytime you help your brother, help your neighbor you want to do that," said Ben Garland, Denver Broncos Guard.

And so did a lot of everyday Coloradans.  They helped raise more than one million dollars, in just one afternoon, to help flood victims.

"When you're in a crisis, people need to help people, so we want to be a part of that," said Jerry Gilkison, Air BNB Host.

We found more than 50 Coloradans who opened their area vacation rentals, free of charge, to people needing a temporary roof over their head.

People often ask first responders and members of the media, "Don't you get depressed with all those tragic stories?"

Truth be told, in the midst of great sadness we see the best in mankind.

Colorado is making us proud yet again, showing true compassion and courage in a time of need. 

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