Photo By Joe Amon/The Denver Post
In September 2013, persistent heavy rains caused devastating flooding in communities across Colorado, including the town of Lyons, where the St. Vrain Creek overflowed its banks and flooded the community of about 2,000. Water poured into neighborhoods, washing out roads and flooding homes and buildings. All utility services – water, sewer, gas and electric – were off-line and the town was under an emergency evacuation order. Search and rescue services were underway immediately to assist stranded residents. Lyons sustained more than $50 million in damage to public infrastructure – a figure that dwarfed the town’s annual general fund budget of $1.2 million.
At the time of the flood, Honeywell was starting construction at the Lyons wastewater treatment plant and already had a strong relationship with officials from the town and the community. The planned project would improve operations at the plant by updating aging equipment and infrastructure.
When the flooding hit, Honeywell employees who lived there and called Colorado home volunteered as first responders once the water receded and stayed engaged on a pro-bono basis until all utilities were restored, specifically helping restore the wastewater system. As a result, the Town of Lyons’ wastewater services were back online at 80 percent within 45 days after the recovery process started, unheard of when such devastation hits a community.
Prior to and immediately following the flood, Honeywell also leveraged a combination of guaranteed energy and operational savings, state grants and a low interest rate loan to fund major upgrades and implement energy improvements at the wastewater treatment plant, while avoiding significant increases to water utility rates.
Honeywell has continued to work with Lyons since that time to restore its wastewater treatment plant and keep it on-line until an overall upgrade is completed in 2015. In July 2014, the town held a groundbreaking ceremony for the upgrade that will help cut the facility's operating cost by 40 percent.
Honeywell recently led a volunteer project to cap off months of recovery work in Lyons, an event organized by Honeywell Hometown Solutions, the company's corporate social responsibility initiative. On November 8, approximately 30 Honeywell employees joined other community volunteers to improve and renovate the Lyons Town Hall Plaza, working to create a public space that can accommodate outdoor meetings as well as provide a positive outdoor experience for town visitors and staff. Volunteers worked to create and build several features of the plaza, including a defined walkway, boulder garden, flagstone “river walk,” picnic tables and seating, as well as retaining walls and lighting for security.
“Honeywell is proud to have worked with Lyons and assisted in its recovery from this natural disaster,” said Mike Taylor, vice president, Honeywell. “As Honeywell employees, we are happy to be a part of this community and to have had the opportunity to lend our skills during the crisis and now a year later to continue to help the town rebuild and reach this stage in its recovery.”