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In the Words of Colorado Homeowner Donna Waida

In the Words of Colorado Homeowner Donna Waida
Donna Waida

Donna Waida was assisted by Team Rubicon after the 2013 floods in Colorado.

It was a Thursday afternoon, and I was in my living room on a conference call when someone pounded on my front door. A stranger screamed “River coming!” and I looked behind her and saw rushing water coming down the street. I ran to the basement to plug in the sump pump. While I was there, water started pouring in the water wells, which made no sense. They are 12 inches higher than my driveway. Then the windows exploded in and I ran upstairs. The water was now on the front porch.

The Waida family: Donna, Lily, John, and Jack.
The Waida family: Donna, John, and their two dogs Lilly and Jack.

My husband, John, was at work and I’d lost my phone in the basement flood. I thought about taking our two German Shepherds, Jack and Lilly, upstairs to the bedrooms, but when I looked out the back of the house, the entire golf course had flooded into a lake. Our dogs are great swimmers and we do runs together all the time with them both leashed to my waist. So I tied them to me, grabbed two credit cards, and we went out the back of the house. Already, only the top of our back fence was above water. I kicked in the gate, and Jack, Lilly, and I shot out like we were at Water World, right into the golf course. We only touched ground once on a grassy area about the size of a dining room table. We had to choose whether to go with the river or swim perpendicular to it and head to the golf course club house. We jumped back in, and I guided the dogs by holding onto their collars and giving Jack a knee when he turned the wrong way. They did all the work swimming, I just held onto their collars and kicked. When we finally made it to the clubhouse and walked out of the water, people were amazed. The staff let us come in—wet, hairy dogs included because I wasn’t going anywhere without them. Someone even gave Jack pizza.

Click to watch KDVR-TV's coverage of Team Rubicon volunteers assisting the Waida family with cleanup.
Click to watch KDVR-TV’s coverage of TR volunteers assisting the Waida family following the Colorado flooding.

John, Jack, Lilly, and I moved into a friend’s home. Two days later, we returned to our house for a look. The damage was pretty extensive, our neighbors on both sides even worse. For several days, lots of friends helped but everyone was exhausted and there was so much more to do. And then came Team Rubicon! We had never heard of them. My husband said, “A huge team of military veterans are coming with boots and equipment. They are strong-looking folks, and they will do anything we need for free.” That didn’t even sound possible. I was pretty sure he had the story wrong. But they came and WOW. This is the team you want in a disaster. They were organized, knowledgeable, strong, and tireless. And beyond that, they were cheerful, empathetic, and made us believe it was going to be OK. They passed countless buckets of rocks and debris from all of our basements, pushed wheelbarrows, whatever was needed. One of the volunteers, Chuck, was able to figure out why our water table was still so high that the flooding wouldn’t stop, and the city came in and was able to implement a plan to address the problem! I cried just about every time I hugged one of the volunteers (they were always covered in muck). These men and women took VACATION to do this, day after day, without pay.

Longmont homeowner Donna Waida thanks a Team Rubicon volunteer with a hug.
Longmont homeowner Donna Waida thanks Air Force veteran Laurie Reiprich with a hug.

The folks on Team Rubicon wanted to meet Jack and Lilly (who will now get steak and ice cream every Saturday for the rest of their lives), so my friend brought them by and it was an opportunity for all of us to just be happy, love on some dogs, and actually laugh for a few minutes. Then these amazing people thanked US for allowing them to help! Then, Team Rubicon moved on to the next house on my street.

The Waidas threw  back a few cold ones with TR volunteers after a hard day's work.
The Waidas supplied a few cold ones for the TR cleanup crew.