Floodwaters devastated Lyons. Innovation has helped to rebuild it. Wednesday night, one business celebrated the start of a new season with a barbeque.
“Tonight we're celebrating the end of our third year and the beginning of our fourth season,” said Kenyon Waugh, the CEO of Wee Casa.
Wee Casa is a tiny home resort in Lyons, located right along the North St. Vrain Creek. On the property sit 22 tiny homes, available for visitors to rent on a short-term basis. Often, those include wedding parties or guests to a wedding venue also located on the property.
“The closest hotel to here is about 13 miles away,” Waugh explained. “We have a lot of weddings here in Lyons and a lot of people want to stay in Lyons, and we keep a lot of celebrating wedding guests off the roads.”
Before the floods in 2013 devastated the town, the property where Wee Casa now sits was a mobile home park. It was destroyed in the floodwaters.
“After the flood, the owner of property brought a few partners in and we were looking for some ways to use the land that was primarily in a floodplain,” Waugh explained.
That meant limitations on what they could build, so the team got creative. They decided to go with a tiny home resort – with mobility.
“All of our tiny houses are on wheels,” Waugh said. “In the event of a flood… we can get them out of here and we have a phone tree ready to go to move them out if we need to.”
“Wee Casa is an excellent example of taking a property that would have been deemed pretty much unbuildable and converting it to commercial use,” said Victoria Simonsen, the Lyons Town Administrator.
More than four years after the flood, Lyons is still rebuilding.
Simonsen said the town has completed about $60 million in recovery so far – about 70-75 percent of projects needed.
A bridge reopened recently, and another one is planned. Recovery efforts also include the replacement of a section of the river corridor, a new public works building, and the relocation of a water line.
“I would have never fathomed that it would take six or seven years to recover from this event,” Simonsen said. “So recovery takes a long time. It is very expensive. It’s very exhausting.”
“We agreed as a town that we aren’t going to come back to the same level,” Waugh said, celebrating his business’s anniversary. “We had an opportunity to come to an even higher level than we were before.”