RUSTIC — Since he was a kid, Chuck Rugh spent a lot of his time in the Poudre Canyon.
"My grandfather owned all of this back in the early 1900s," he said.
Rugh moved to Rustic in the 1990s after retiring as a firefighter. For him life in the mountains has always come with challenges, but it hasn’t been so dangerous until recently.
"It hadn’t been that bad until last year and part of this year," Rugh said.
Rugh said he knew one of the men who died in the floods since he was a boy.
After seeing the destruction, Rugh put sandbags around his home.
"I’ve got sandbags around my backyard so hopefully it didn’t get inside," Rugh said.
It’s these risks that Rugh, and many other residents in this canyon, live with every day, especially when heavy rains come down over burn scars, making them susceptible to flash flooding with the potential for debris and mud flows.
"It could happen to us. If it hadn’t been for the grace of God it would have come up all the way over here and down. You know, what more can you think? You don’t know what to think," said Rugh.
The work to remove pieces of residents' homes from the river and repair damaged bridges continues, but some areas won’t ever look the same as what Rugh has known for so many years.
"They’ll clean it up, but the forest will never come back while I’m alive. I mean, it will come back someday," he said.
Still, this is home, and for Rugh and his family, there’s nowhere else they’d rather be.