Sacramento students are Denver Airport. Photo courtesy Rocky Mountain Pathways Ranch
SACRAMENTO, CA - Dozens of Sacramento teenagers are finally safe at home after a close call with the Colorado storms. Students at Options For Youth charter school in North Highlands were camping at a ranch outside Denver when the storms began.
The students were high up in the mountains, so most of the time they were isolated from the flooding below. However, getting to the airport to come home would be difficult. Finally, a brief break in the storms and the opening of an alternate route proved to be the perfect storm of good luck that saved these kids from being stranded.
Images of raging waters, flooded roads, and devastated communities were the last things parents wanted to see knowing their children were camping at the Rocky Mountain Pathways Ranch in Allenspark, Colorado.
"I know the weather is getting worse, and the damage is getting worse, so I'm like, that can't be any good," Tosca Johnson said.
At the camp, Johnson's 16-year-old daughter Lenelle and her fellow students were enjoying themselves on high ground up the mountains learning what life is like on a ranch.
"They had games and activities. We went on hikes. We got to ride horses. They had a little baby goat. It was so cute," Lenelle Johnson said.
Most of the students didn't realize what was standing in the way of them getting home.
"We actually didn't see the news. There's no TVs up there," Lenelle explained.
"She started calling me and texting me yesterday, and teenage attitude: Mom, I'm fine; why do you think I'm stranded; I'm not lost. I'm like, okay, you're in Colorado where there's a storm going on. You're not here where you belong in Sacramento, California," Tosca Johnson said.
School chaperones and camp personnel were monitoring road conditions and the path of the storm, so when they saw an opportunity, they gathered the students quickly.
"The R.A.s seemed a little worried, like, oh my God we need to hurry up and get you guys out of here before the storm, and we were like, oh my gosh. We were all scared," Options For Youth senior Aaliyah Hardeman said.
Finally the students began to see what the rest of the world was watching.
"Not until I saw the big camo helicopter, and I was like, what is that? And they were like, that's the National Guard. I was like, what are they doing here?" Lenelle said.
Options For Youth teacher Melissa Nelson was one of the chaperones on the trip. She knew time was limited.
"We had a small window of opportunity, and we were able to travel down safely. We took our time, and we made it in the perfect window. Right when we got to the airport, it started downpouring," Nelson said.