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A handful of students were among about 100 people evacuated by helicopter from a community in Lefthand Canyon during the mid-September flash floods.
Graduate student Kelsey Lanning, 22, was one of the people who had to be airlifted out of the Nugget Hill neighborhood after flood waters destroyed roads on Sept. 12.
“It’s a weird feeling to know that there is no way out other than helicopter or a 15-mile hike,” Lanning said. “I felt trapped. We had to boil water we caught off the roof from the rain. For cooking, we didn’t have electricity so we had a wood-burning stove that we were able to kind of cook beans on and then we had a propane grill that we were able to boil some water on.”
Lanning said that they were able to get by with people inviting them over for meals, but they would have run out of food if they stayed there any longer.
“There was one guy who actually hiked back to Boulder and then back to Lefthand Canyon and brought gasoline and supplies for people,” she said.
Senior psychology major Sam Lange, 21, said being stranded in Nugget Hill united the residents.
“It was cool to see the community come together,” Lange said. “There are a lot of older people in the area, and whenever people needed food or water, everyone would chip in, and people were taking gas out of their cars to give to their neighbors for their gas generators.”
On Sept. 13, helicopters began to circle the area and were able to evacuate people for medical emergencies.
“There was a little girl who was having a really bad asthma attack, and she could not breathe,” Lange said. “She started turning purple, and the National Guard repelled down out of the helicopter and gave her medicine.”
The girl’s mother was also airlifted by a helicopter later that day.
Senior environmental design major Ben Seaman, 22, said he performed the head count of people who needed to be evacuated from the area.
Seaman and Lanning were taken with the rest of the people who chose to be evacuated on Sept.14 by Chinook helicopters.
“They brought us back to the Boulder (Municipal) Airport and dropped us off, and they had a bunch of fireman lined up as we got out,” Lanning said. “It felt like we were in one of those movies. They brought you into this area where you had to check in for being evacuated, and they had food and water, and then they had shuttle buses to bring you to a shelter in Niwot.”
The National Guard continues to drop down food and water because many residents decided to stay in Nugget Hill.
“About 50 to 75 percent of the people were like ‘I’m not going anywhere. I have lived here for 30 years. This is my home; I don’t want to leave,” Lanning said.
Correction: This story has been updated from its original version to correct an erroneously identified evacuee. The girl who experienced an asthma attack and her mother were both evacuated by helicopter on Sept. 13.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Danielle Meltz at Danielle.firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter/justmeltz.