1997 Flood

The Neighborhood

We moved into a duplex at 2005 Spring Court. Roger Olton and Delphina Olton lived next door.

Our duplex was south of Spring Creek between Arthur's Ditch, College Avenue, Creekside Park, and the BNSF Railway. There was a trailer park north of the creek.

We got a cat in 1996 and I named him Nick. He was half Himalayan and half Siamese.

The Flood

We were in bed when my grandfather, William Champion, called to warn us about flooding in Fort Collins. We went outside and saw Spring Creek rising. My mom moved the car uphill and we started packing essentials.

The water burst through our front door and pushed our furniture across the room. We swam out of our back window. I kicked off my sandals because I felt them pulling me under. We left Nick in a tree and climbed on top of a neighbor's storage shed. Garter snakes swam by and raccoons climbed on the fence. The water was cold.

The Rescue

Rescuers found us and gave us lifejackets. They had secured a line for us to hold. CBS4 (KCNC-TV) filmed our rescue. We got in an ambulance.

I had hypothermia, so paramedics wrapped me up with heat packs. We were taken to Rocky Mountain High School. We spent the night there with many other survivors.

The Damage

There was about six feet of water in our house. We lost appliances, books, clothes, furniture, pictures, and toys. Our fence and storage shed floated away. My goldfish were lost.

The car was in a few feet of water, even though it was on a hill. Its interior rotted away over the next few years. Dishes, jewelry, and silverware were salvaged, but they were very dirty.

A house across the street from ours was knocked off its foundation.

The Outcome

Our friends John Mathis and Cathy Mathis were on vacation, so we stayed at their house. We set bait traps to see if we could catch Nick. They didn't work. We ended up finding him ten days after the flood. We gave him a bath. Doctors tested us for diseases that may have been in the dirty water.

We moved in with our friend Karla Shands. Karla had two daughters, Amanda Shands and Rachel Shands. We slept in their basement. Karla was a Realtor. She helped us find a new house at 121 Yale Avenue. It is on higher ground. The house belonged to Roger's sister. Roger and Delphina moved out before we moved in. My father, Ralph Lombardi, made the down payment.

We received a videocassette of unedited CBS4 footage. In 1999, a bronze sculpture titled Human Spirit was completed and placed on the east side of Creekside Park.

The Media

Atmospheres. The Weather Channel. 20 Aug. 2001. Web. Transcript.
Duggan, Kevin. "Flood Memories Haunt Victims and Rescuers." The Coloradoan [Fort Collins]. 22 July 2007. Web.
The Ft. Collins Flood of 1997. City of Fort Collins. YouTube. 10 Jan. 2011. Web.
KCNC-TV, 1997. Videocassette.
"Survivors, Families Mark 10th Anniversary of Fort Collins Flood." The Denver Post. 29 July 2007. Web.

The Conclusion

William Champion passed away in 2011. Nick passed away in 2013, and there were floods in Colorado three months later. Karla Shands passed away in 2016.