Hospitality & Tourism  September 5, 2014

Take a trip to the islands – in Lyons

Floodwaters that devastated Lyons last September created a series of “islands” on which stranded refugees – with no power, water or sewage and with dwindling food – made the best of it as they awaited evacuation.

This year, residents and businesses are celebrating their survival and rebound at 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 14, with a Lyons Island Parade. Each of the seven “islands” – plus honorary isles for displaced people and first responders – will have its own flag and color.

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Underlying the frivolity, however, will be the memory that those islands weren’t just physical. They were emotional as well.

“Life is different in Lyons,” said Mindy Tallent, who with husband Sam owns the Stone Cup, a café and coffee shop that has been a gathering place for locals for years. “Some folks have been able to rebuild their homes. Some properties have been transformed into beautiful spaces. In contrast, much of the town landscape remains in devastation. There are still many who are displaced and unable to return home.”

The Tallents were among the evacuees. Their business was closed for nearly six weeks and couldn’t return to regular hours until December, typically “our slowest season,” she said.

Nearly as hard as the cleanup was the paperwork. “We received a fairly substantial (Small Business Administration) loan,” she said. “It was a laborious process, requiring much documentation and meetings with loan officers, but I am thankful for the loan.  I am presently in the process of trying to receive disaster-recovery grant money from the state of Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. I just received a letter of approval from OEDIT, however the documentation requirements for reimbursement are rather daunting. It would be nice to receive grant money to help repay our SBA loan, but I’m honestly not sure I have the time or energy to pursue it.”

With support from locals and tourists alike, “our spring and summer seasons at the café have been good,” Mindy Tallent said. “As a town, we are hopeful. We plan and dream. Sam and I are very grateful to be a part of this indomitable community.”

English poet John Donne wrote that “no man is an island.” No one knows that better than the islanders in Lyons.

Floodwaters that devastated Lyons last September created a series of “islands” on which stranded refugees – with no power, water or sewage and with dwindling food – made the best of it as they awaited evacuation.

This year, residents and businesses are celebrating their survival and rebound at 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 14, with a Lyons Island Parade. Each of the seven “islands” – plus honorary isles for displaced people and first responders – will have its own flag and color.

Underlying the frivolity, however, will be the memory that those islands weren’t just physical. They were emotional…

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