In two days this past September, about 26 inches of rain fell on Boulder, Colorado. It was far more than the area’s average annual precipitation of 20.7 inches.
Over 19,000 homes and other structures were destroyed or damaged; among them was the Islamic Center of Boulder.
Found in the late 1970s by a group of students at the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU Boulder), for thirty years ICB survived in a two-room, 1500 square foot apartment. The only masjid in a 15-20 miles radius, two years ago ICB bought an old church building and were getting ready to complete their renovations to the new facility, to make it into a functioning masjid, until the rain started.
“The neighborhood around the masjid was seriously damaged,” says Hadi, a volunteer at the masjid for the past 13 years. “I was in masjid Wednesday; the rain had started and [the basement] started to flood. We could see that the drainage was not able to keep up with rain.” Community members stepped in wet vacs in hand, trying to steadily pump the water out on Thursday. What they didn’t realize when they started calling around for more volunteers was that the entire region was severely flooded.
Internet and phones were down, road were blocked and only a few people made it out to the masjid. “On Thursday evening people couldn’t reach the masjid to help as roads were not accessible,” says Hadi. There was no loss of life in Muslim community.
Over the next several days, largest airlift since Katrina took place as the National Guard rescued thousands of people from the mountains that surround the idyllic city.
Books from Sunday school, racks, the fridge, freezers, table and chairs used for Ramadan Iftars, and prayer carpets were submerged in the water and destroyed. Hadi and his team of volunteers worked quickly over the week to remove all the damaged carpeting and dry wall, bleaching it before mold could settle in. Damage in the basement alone was about 10,000 sq ft. The first floor was also affected.
Masjid officials received the same news as most others in the region: flood insurance doesn’t cover a majority of flood damage. Just getting rid of the water-damaged items is very costly.
Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman William Rukeyser said of the 10,190 households statewide that have applied for FEMA assistance, 7,685 are in Boulder County. FEMA so far has given out $4.3 million in assistance. A broad range of private nonprofit organizations qualify for federal disaster assistance grants, but houses of worship do not.
Seventy percent of the ICB community is students. “We are not rich people here; this is really taking a big toll to our community,” explained Hadi.
The contractors roll into town and the Islamic Center is looking at bids. The center thinks it will cost $250,000 to make it usuable.“We are getting quotes from contractors, there are many things we can do ourselves but some things need professionals- we need money for that.”
ICNA Relief USA National Disaster Response Team members from Florida, Tennessee, New Jersey, and Louisiana deployed to Boulder once roads were passable. “They said they will help us and fan out to help need other families in need,” says Hadi.
The Boulder Muslim community is also asking permission from Islamic Centers in the DC Metro Area to host them for fundraising.
People can donate online through the website or send tax-deductible donations to the following address.
“Remember us in your duas and if the situation allows donate geneourously for this cause,” said Hadi.
Send donations to: Islamic Center of Boulder, 5495 Baseline Road, Boulder, CO 80303
Phine 720-340-1530. Contact.firstname.lastname@example.org www.bouldermuslims.com