Community in the Face of Crisis

For the most part, natural disasters all around suck. They are costly, inconvenient and at times, even deadly.

There is a an upside though.

Crisis in the form of natural disaster brings community together.

Here in Boulder, the first floor of our beloved community center, the Boulder Integral Center, was flooded and contaminated with sewage.

As soon as the rain stopped enough for the members to get there, the community came together to begin bailing out the basement, sewage and all.

All around Boulder, community was gathering to support one another.

The entire town of Lyons, CO lost power and a spontaneous 200-plus person cookout sprung up around a fire pit outside of the Stone Cup. The local Lyons natural food store, the St. Vrain MarketOskar Blues, and the Stone Cup all contributed perishables to the gathering and were giving away food to members of the community.

Friends, Casey Capshaw, Marco Lam and Pieter Oosthuizen, forded the raging river to rescue precious belongings from Huy Lam’s house up the canyon before it was swept away in the flood. And then, Pieter took in Huy and his whole family.

I awoke to the sound of my neighbor reconstructing the median on our street so that no one else would have to deal with it.

Evacuated Jamestown residents came together to ensure all town members were accounted for, built a pulley system to ferry medical supplies, food and other necessaries across the 100-foot flood waters that split the town in half and are creating a plan for rebuilding the town they love.

These are just a tiny few of the examples of people stepping up to support one another.

Ultimately, the stories of support coming out of the Boulder Flood tell a tale seen often in the midst of tragedy, people coming together to support one another in community.

Here’s the rub: the acute community support that comes together in the midst of crisis tapers off quickly once people go back to their everyday lives.

The people who will fare the best after a disaster are those who have invested in creating community before the crisis.

Some folks will be sleeping in shelters while others are cozy in the homes of friends.

Some folks will wonder where their next meal or hot shower is coming from while others have a myriad of options.

Some will wonder how they’ll ever get all the water and mud out of their basement and others will have streams of people taking shift after shift to bail and clean.

The people who are cozy, cared for and loved beyond the immediate crisis aren’t those who have saved the most for retirement, paid off all their debt or worked their buns off to scale the corporate ladder, they are the ones who have invested in building relationships.

Community is the new currency.

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Love.