How to Survive a Natural Disaster: The Outdoosy Town of Boulder, Colorado Shows Us How It’s Done

Being a resident of Boulder, Colorado I wasn’t too concerned when the flood sirens started blaring and the waters started rising. This town is, to put it quite plainly, an outdoorsy town full of badasses. We’ve got kayaks, canoes, and tubes. We’ve got bug-out bags in case we have to high-tail it to higher ground, camping equipment if we need to spend a night or two outside, and, most importantly, an awesome community that supports one another in a time of need.

That being said, I’ve been amazed by the devastation from the flooding. Two of my very outdoorsy friends had to off-road out of Lyons, Colorado and are now living with me. Some other friends are now completely homeless because their basement apartment was flooded. In the past few weeks, I’ve seen a lot of images filter through my Facebook: Images of mangled mountain trails, Boulderites biking through the rising flood waters or kayaking Boulder Creek, and people from my community crying as they try to salvage priceless possessions. But it’s all good, because this outdoorsy town knows how to survive and, as one of my friends said when I was texting him about the devastation: “ If there’s any group of people equipped to deal with a natural disaster such as this, it’s Coloradoans.”

Amen to that.

And here’s how your state or town can do it too:

Prepare Your Bug-Out Bags:
Whether it’s a flood, earthquake, wild fires, or tornado, a backpack chockerbock full of basic survival gear is high on your list of priorities. Some items to include are: 

-Strike anywhere matches

-A knife

-At Least 3 Liters of Water: The more water, the better…When a natural disaster strikes you may find yourself without clean water for days, weeks, or even months like the citizens of Lyons, Colorado

-A Method for Water Purification: Iodine tablets, a filter, etc

-Food: Non-perishable items are preferable since you may not have access to refrigeration

-Clothing: Water-proof shells, pants, and warm layers

-A Good Pair of Boots: You may have to run, hike, bike, or swim out of the situation and you want a good pair of light-weight, water-proof, boots that can help you get the hell out if needs be)

-Maps and a Compass: A topographical map of the area, road map, and bike trail map are always helpful. You may not have access to your vehicle and may need to bike or hike out. Some roads may be damaged or closed forcing you to find another route. Also, keep in mind that your GPS equipment might not be working properly, so old-school paper maps are handy.

Keep your bug-out bag in a high and dry place where it’s easily accessable. 

Have a Plan A and a Plan B
Where will you go if a flood hits and you have to get to higher ground? You best believe I was scoping out my garage and did a dry-run for getting up on top of it in case the flood waters got too high. It might sound silly, but having a plan can save your life.

More importantly, what will you do if Plan A falls through? If my garage had collapsed, I was planning on climbing up to my roof.

Finally, where will you go? When the flood sirens sounded I knew the best place for me to be was home since I live on a hill in Boulder. What will you do if you can’t get home?

Asking yourself these questions beforehand can save you time and frustration later. 

Use Social Media
Social media can be extremely helpful for alerting people during a natural disaster. When the floods hit in Boulder, many people were posting minute-minute updates on Facebook and Twitter to keep people informed. It’s also a great way to offer housing to those in need and to keep tabs on the safety of friends and relatives.

Don’t Be Too Proud to Ask For Help
When a natural disaster strikes people need help. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and, more often than not, those who are in a position to help are more than happy to do so. It makes them feel good, productive, and helps take their mind off of all the madness. Ask for help from your government by applying for FEMA, ask for help from your friends by crashing in their guest room, and ask for help from your community by allowing volunteers assist you with clean up and rebuilding After all, you just went through something frightening and you deserve to be comforted by others.

Keep Your Sense of Humor
The one thing I noticed, more than anything, during the floods was how people from Boulder, Lyons, and the surrounding areas never lost their sense of humor. Even in the face of homelessness, my buddy was cracking flood jokes at his office meeting by saying, “ Man, I’m just really feeling a little underwater today with all this work.” I saw memes comes through Facebook depicting “Welcome to Colorado” signs by the Atlantic Ocean and there’s plenty of footage of people playing in the rain and even mountain biking through some of the water run-off.

When you keep your sense of humor, things don’t seem so bleak enabling you to keep calm and carry-on. Which is exactly what my badass, outdoorsy town did, and so can yours.