DOUGLAS COUNTY — A week after what officials are calling a once-in-a-century flash flood hit the Olson home, the family still is digging out and facing an uncertain future.
“It’s been really stressful trying to get everything situated,” said Deb Olson. “Hopefully, we’ll hear good things about what (the insurance) can replace or what they can do for us, if anything.”
Deb was at home in Johnson Lane with her husband Brent and daughter, Daylin, 19 — son, Blayke, 23 is away at college — when the storm moved in on July 20.
“When the lightning started, it was actually kind of spectacular,” Deb said. “Then it started to hail, then rain.”
She said an artificial creek bed in the front yard filled quickly with water, so she went to check the backyard, which backs up to Hot Springs Mountain on Bureau of Land Management land.
“It looked just like a river of mud coming straight through our fence,” Deb said.
Water, mud and debris rushing down two washes converged to hit one end of the yard and a third wash emptied just at the other corner of the yard.
“You could see it filling up,” Deb said. “We grabbed everything we could to barricade the doors. We shoved towels and carpets and blankets against them to keep the mud out.”
In a matter of 10 to 15 minutes, she said, it was all over.
“It was amazing,” Deb said. “Just unreal.”
The family first cleaned the mud and water that had seeped into the kitchen and laundry room. Unable to open any doors, they crawled out Daylin’s bedroom window to survey to damage outside. Some places of the yard, both front and back — about 1.25 acres — were covered in five or more feet of mud. Other places were about two or three feet deep.
The brunt of the damage was done to a free-standing garage where the pressure of the flood cracked a wall and filled the interior with mud and debris.
After the mud hit that garage, it wrapped around the rest of the house, including the attached garage, which housed the office for the family business Olson Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc.
“Everything was destroyed,” Deb said. “The files, the computer, everything was destroyed. I had to go out and buy a computer to keep the business going. We’re going to need the business to rebuild.”
A work truck, two family cars and a motorcycle also were totaled.
The storm, called the flood of the century by Douglas County officials, dropped 1.21 inches of rain in fewer than two hours.
Residents in the Buckbrush Estates, where the Olson home is located, reported damage to landscaping, garages and homes. However, the home of Brent and Deb Olson — 1985 and 1987 Carson High School graduates, respectively — received the most damage.
They are calling on the BLM to work on ways to divert potential future floods.
“Now that it has a path to go down, it’s going to come again,” Deb said. “It’s not necessarily that we want compensation, we want a solution. We want protection.”
While the lack of response from the agency has been frustrating, she said, response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive.
Friends, family and strangers have come with shovels and backhoes to dig out the mountains of mud. A Go Fund Me account set up for the family has been receiving a steady stream of donations.
“It makes me want to cry,” Deb said. “We don’t know how to thank all of these people. It’s very touching.”
And with the help of those around them, she said, they will rebound.
“We are so thankful nothing worse happened,” Deb said. “Stuff can be replaced, but a life can’t. We’ll bounce back.”