His emotions running from anger to resignation, Ben Stephens surveyed the damage the morning after floodwaters inundated his property, The Pantry Gardens. Stephens blames the most of the destruction on the slope of the land next door, the Green Box grounds.
“All that water went right there,” Stephens said, pointing to the spot where the water from Fountain Creek passed through the Green Box property and roared through the gardens, effectively closing the restaurant for the remainder of the season.
When the water came raging through around 6 p.m. on Aug. 22, customers were dining and listening to the music of Ted Newman.
“Ted’s amplifier got drowned,” Stephens said. “The water was just pouring through here.”
Not only was it pouring in Green Mountain Falls, but upstream in Woodland Park, 4 inches of rain and hail pounded the city and flooded Fountain Creek. With rain and water coming from everywhere, Stephens couldn’t catch a break. As water from the adjacent property flooded the front side of the gardens, the overflow from the creek came in the back side. While Stephens carries liability and other insurance on the property, he didn’t expect a flood.
“I can’t afford flood insurance; my house in Chipita Park is right in the Waldo burn area, so I have flood insurance on my house,” he said.
With the gardens shut down for the season, Stephens estimate the losses at $25,000 to $35,000.
A short distance away, Fountain Creek rushed toward the home of Barbara Gafford while chiefly missing the two adjacent homes. “There was a 12-foot wave of water coming out of the creek banks,” said Kathy Blough, Gafford’s daughter.
The raging waters flooded the entryway as well as the basement of the Gafford home.
About the time the storm hit, Clay Gafford and Jeff Blough were traveling west on U.S. 24, a few miles from Green Mountain Falls.
“Jeff and I saw the water, 7 to 8 feet high, flowing down the creek behind the Crystola,” Clay Gafford said. “We called Kathy and told her to get mom out of there immediately.”
The next morning, the Gafford home was filled with neighbors and friends who arrived with shovels and gloves to help. Ken Nord, who owns Stones, Bones and Wood, led the team.
At the age of 84, Barbara has endured more than her share of drama. In February 2011, her home was damaged when arsonists torched and destroyed the historic town hall. The hall was located a few feet from her home.
Gafford escaped both destructive forces and today remains in her home.