Employees of a Sioux Falls advertising agency are glad to be back on dry ground following a close brush with the raging floodwaters in Colorado. Workers with Lawrence and Schiller were caught in the storm as they drove to Denver International Airport Thursday.
The four Lawrence and Schiller workers were in Colorado to meet with one of their largest clients, Taco John's. It should have been a routine business trip. But the record rainfall was an obstacle they didn't count on.
A 100-year flood snarled traffic on Colorado's Interstate 70 with Lawrence and Schiller's rented SUV caught in its midst.
"It was hairy. It was raining tremendously hard; had the wipers going as fast as they could possibly go," Lawrence & Schiller Executive Vice-President John Pohlman said.
With Pohlman behind the wheel, the Lawrence & Schiller workers slowly made their way to the Denver airport during the worst of the downpour.
"Rivers that we never noticed before were roaring past us. Cars were stalled; water was rising up in the ditch. I'd never seen anything like that in all the trips that we've made to Denver and we've made lots and lots of them," Pohlman said.
The passengers remained confident in Pohlman's driving ability despite what they were seeing out their windows.
"Traffic on the side roads completely backed up and plows, snowplows if you will, pushing water out of the way," Lawrence & Schiller Account Executive Courtney Davidson said.
The quiet tension inside their SUV was interrupted several times by constant beeping from a barrage of cell phone weather alerts.
"Both the girls in the back seat were getting emergency alerts from their weather apps that they had downloaded on the phones and just randomly going off and beeping like you see on TV, the beeps. And so we were all checking our phones and they were all talking about flash flooding warnings right where you are," Davidson said.
The travelers allowed themselves three hours to make the drive that would normally take about 20 minutes. They made their flight with time to spare, leaving the flooding far behind.
"Great relief to fly out of all that hard rain and to land and it's 75 degrees and sunny in Sioux Falls. It was a good feeling to be home," Pohlman said.
This isn't the first weather-related run-in for Lawrence & Schiller in Colorado. Pohlman says he's been chased by a tornado while driving during a previous trip to the state. Lawrence & Schiller has another trip to Colorado scheduled in November.