Story by Jim Rettew
It’s hard to refuse a ride from the National Guard when the evacuation helicopter lands in your front yard. Donna Hitz, 81 and wheelchair-bound, has been living in the hills west of Lyons for 35 years. She grew up teaching horsemanship on her remote pastures. She’s been living alone for the past 11 years since her husband died. When she got the knock on her door that the waters were rising, she said, “I’m not getting into any helicopter.” For all these years, nothing has chased her out of her home, and a little water wasn't going to do it this time.
However, this was more than a little water, and when all her neighbors started to congregate in her front yard, she knew something was up. What was up was a Colorado National Guard huey, and when it landed in her front yard, she figured it was a sign to go. They wheeled her up the ramp, picked up the dogs, and buckled her in, and has spent the last few nights at a Red Cross shelter in Niwot Colorado.
Donna sees a lot of silver linings in this ‘inconvenience’. “Everyone has been wonderful,” she beams with a slight tear in her eye. “I've gotten to know my neighbors like never before.” One neighbor had moved in five years ago, but they never met. During the evacuation, she came up to Donna’s house and said, “I’m sorry I never introduced myself, but after this is all over, I’d like to have tea.” “I just loved that,” said Donna. “I don’t get many visitors, so I’m already looking forward to it.”
Donna has made quite a few friendship at the shelter with both Red Cross volunteers and other evacuees. “I’m 81 years old and two men have given me their phone numbers!” she says with a big grin. Everyone wants to tell their story, and she’s there to listen.
Donna is also a huge Broncos fan and has been rallying up the troops at the shelter to watch the Broncos play. Wearing a blue and orange Broncos t-shirt, she’s the center of attention. We’re not surprised and wish her well.