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Dangerous work in the aftermath 

Long Story Short

I've been writing about the Waldo Canyon floods since March.

So I didn't really expect many surprises when my co-worker Matthew Schniper and I agreed to go on a tour of Upper Williams Canyon with an expert from the Rocky Mountain Field Institute. I mean, I had already read all about this. I had seen it on maps and in photos.

I wore white.

An hour later, I was smeared with ash and mud, sweaty, thirsty and inspired.

Here were teams of workers, toiling in the hot sun, carefully constructing water barriers out of logs and whatever materials they could carry on their backs into steep ravines. (Read more about the job they tackle in our cover package, "How to stop a flood," starting here.)

This is a dangerous area. Dead trees fall in high winds. Water comes fast after rainstorms. Lightning is always a risk. The work is back-breaking.

I couldn't help but be reminded of the firefighters who saved homes and lives in the Waldo fire.

These crews are saving homes and lives too, but they haven't been greeted with colorful hand-lettered banners and cheering crowds. Instead, people want to know why work isn't being done more quickly; why we haven't been able to "stop the flood."

I understand the frustration. But if my still-stained white shirt is any evidence, this task is more difficult than it sounds.

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