Flooded campers help restore St. Vrain State Park

11:08 PM, Nov 16, 2013   |    comments
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WELD COUNTY - Dorothy Clark and Debi Melton are members of an RV club for retirees called the Campfire Coyotes. Their group planned to relax at St. Vrain State Park near Firestone during the second week of September.

"I watched that water all night long as I listened to the rain just totally terrified that the lake was going to come over," Melton, president of the Campfire Coyotes, said.

The rain kept falling. The water kept rising and by the morning of September 12, there was a situation brewing.

"The firemen came around to each of our rigs and knocked on the door and told us that we needed to evacuate," Clark said. "Well, you've never seen an RV club unhook, hook everything up and leave as fast as possible that day. It was quite an adventure."

Melton said they left just in time.

"When I was unhooking the electricity from my RV, I was wading through ankle deep water to get to the power plug which was a little exciting," Melton said.

Park Manager Kathy Seiple said 70 percent of St. Vrain State Park suffered severe damage.

"Some areas of the park were under 6-to-8 feet of water on that day," Seiple said. "The river which is just to the northwest of us here had breached its banks and was moving east on Highway 119 pretty quickly."

Two months later, Clark and Melton are back at St. Vrain State Park. They joined dozens of volunteers working to rebuild 41 campsites destroyed by the flood.

"We're basically sweeping, cleaning the camping sites, the pads, filling in the dirt," Clark said.

Melton says she feels obligated to be here.

"If we're using these places we need to be willing to take some responsibility to get them back operational," Melton said.

Seiple says the park is still too damaged to open to the public. She believes it will reopen next spring.

"We really love St. Vrain. It's a beautiful park and we want to help get it back in shape so we can come back here again next year and camp," Clark said.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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