The flooding of September 2013was a life-changing event for so many people throughout Colorado, and specifically in Estes Park. As the owner of Kind Coffee, a downtown coffee shop, I was working alone the morning of the flood. I stood with customers and watched the river rise behind us, only to find that it was the street side that flooded our parking lot and building for more than 3 days. Our location took the brunt of much of the floodwaters from the Big Thompson, Fall River and the Black Canyon, and all returned to the Big Thompson past our front door. Unfortunately, that led to severe damage to our entire building, including our 1800 square foot shop. We were closed for business for 3 months to the day, and had to remove everything; dry the building and crawl space out; and gut and rebuild the entire store (removing the entire coffee bar and all infrastructure; flooring; drywall (4’ flood cut); and both bathrooms.) While it felt like an eternity rebuilding the shop, looking back I cannot believe we were able to do it in 3 months time.
During this time, I spent countless hours physically working at the sh
op and planning the rebuilding design. I also focused on finding a way to generate some cash flow and to raise money for flood relief. We donated 25% of the sales of Flood Mud (our flood relief coffee) to the Town of Estes Park Flood Relief Fund, which a friend of mine, Susie Masterson, created. It was through the sale of that coffee while we were closed that we were able to pay for some of the expenses we incurred.
FLOOD MUD was sort of a joke at first. Since it was September, we were fully stocked with inventory and had a lot of coffee on hand that wasn't damaged, but we were closed and had no good way of selling it. SO, we worked with our favorite artist Dawn Schreiner, who graciously donated her time and bumped this project to the top of her queue! We discussed designs and language and the progression of the label shows the creative process. We labeled every bag of coffee we had on hand as Flood Mud, and sold every last pound. And people wanted more! So, we had our roaster package more coffee for us, and we sold over 2000 pounds of Mud through the end of 2013, allowing us to donate more than $10,000 to Flood Relief Fund.
In the first few days once the water had receeded, we had over 100 people come through our back door, offering to help. I was speechless, and couldn't be more grateful to this community (some of which were strangers to us!) for their ability and desire to help us. We moved the entire store out, threw away what we had to, gave away what we could
salvage, and tore out every square inch. At the time, is was impossible to understand how we would get through this. What would my employees do? The canyons were all closed, how would we even get materials to town to rebuild?