September 21


How The Colorado Flood Made Me Smarter

By Staff Writer

September 21, 2013

We live in Estes Park, Colorado, and our area has been declared a disaster area after all the rain last week caused major flooding over a great deal of the state. I am including the latest statistics reported by 9News to give you an idea of just how devastating this event has been:

The flood area currently covers a total of 1,918 square miles of the state and spans across 17 counties. The impacted counties are: Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield, Boulder, Clear Creek, Denver, El Paso, Fremont, Jefferson, Larimer, Logan, Morgan, Pueblo, Otero, Washington, Weld and Sedgwick.

There have been four deaths in the county of Boulder, two in El Paso and one in the county of Clear Creek.

A total of 82 people, all from Larimer County [this is the county where Estes Park is located], are still missing.

More than 5,900 residents are still under mandatory evacuation. The number of flood victims staying in 12 various shelters is at 210.

In terms of affected infrastructure, the numbers are constantly rising. They are as follows: 16,101 damaged homes, 1,882 destroyed homes, damaged commercial buildings 765, destroyed commercial buildings 203, 200 miles of damaged roads and 50 damaged bridges.

This total ups to an estimated damage of $135 million to start repairs.

The following places have been declared as major disaster counties by FEMA: Adams, Boulder, Clear Creek, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer and Weld.

That is a lot of damage. We were quite lucky to not have a lot of damage to our home, but we are located in a “no flush” zone that is impacting about 1900 homes. The good news about that is that part of the town is not impacted by this, so there are still places you can visit to, well, you know…

So how can that make you smarter, you may be asking yourself?

Well, anytime that you add variability to your routine it helps you to grow new neural pathways. And let me tell you, living in a no-flush zone makes you do a lot of things differently!  The folks in our neighborhood are having to think about where they will go to do their business. So we are all distributing our visits around town – today I will go to Safeway, tomorrow McDonald’s, make a low pass to the fairgrounds, etc.

And even little things like your morning routine change. They finally put up some port-o-potty’s around the neighborhood, so we get dressed really fast and walk the dog on a different route so we can swing by.  So we are not only getting more exercise (exercise is good for the brain) but we are also changing our routine.

Then there are all the road closures and different routes you must take to get almost anywhere. Another big change in routine. You just don’t realize how much of what you do is on automatic pilot until you are faced with with this sort of disruption!

Then there are all the folks that are in worse conditions that need help. Nearly everyone in town is doing something to help out their neighbors, helping the shop owners, clearing debris, sharing.

Studies show that all of these activities will help your brain:

  • Changes in routine
  • Exercise
  • Altruism

Not that I am a proponent for disasters as a way to have a healthy brain, but it is good to try to focus on the positive, on the good these situations bring out in people, rather than the destruction.

Oh – and that is another one – a positive attitude will help your brain too!

About the author

Our staff writers come from various backgrounds in the neuroscience, personal development, brain science and psychology fields. Many started out as with us as contributors!

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