For more information about Alternative Breaks
A group of University of Colorado students aren't traveling far for spring break, which starts today, but they hope to have a big impact in the lives of Estes Park residents who were affected by last September's floods.
As part of Alternative Breaks, 12 students will spend the week doing flood restoration work in Rocky Mountain National Park, helping to reconstruct homes and businesses in town and clearing debris and doing other mitigation work as the possibility of more flooding from spring runoff increases.
The program, which is run out of CU's Volunteer Resource Center, sends college students around the world for community-based service projects. The students also learn about social and environmental issues in the communities they serve.
Other Alternative Breaks programs this spring break include trips to Los Angeles, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Hubert, N. C., Boulder Creek, Calif., Hillsboro, W. Va., Tucson, Ariz and others. The trips focus on issues ranging from HIV/AIDs and youth empowerment to wildlife rehabilitation to homelessness.
Often, Alternative Breaks sends students away from Boulder, but the 50-minute drive to Estes Park is a chance for volunteers to work on recovery from an event many of their friends and neighbors experienced firsthand.
Many CU students and their families were displaced from their homes after September's flooding, which damaged roughly 120 structures on campus and led school officials to close campus for several days and cancel a football game.
"It means more to you when you've actually been there and you've seen it and you've been a part of it," said Kirstyn Johnson, one of the trip's site leaders. "You've seen firsthand how it's affected people and your life to a certain degree."
Johnson said she experienced some flooding in her basement, but saw the most damage in her neighborhood on Moorhead Ave.
Co-site leader Walter Shoup said the trip is a reminder that long-term recovery from the flood is still ongoing, and that people and businesses still need help even though six months have passed.
And as the warmer temperatures of spring approach, it's critical to remove debris from creeks and ditches, which could cause new rounds of flooding, according to Boulder County officials.
"People don't really see the damage anymore, but there's still a lot of damage up in the mountains and in some of the rural areas," he said.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Sarah Kuta at 303-473-1106 or firstname.lastname@example.org