Bus Tarbox breaks ground on his new home from Habitat for Humanity, built after losing his home on the Big Thompson River in the 2013 flood. (Sam Lounsberry / Loveland Reporter-Herald)
By the end of the month, two people who lost their homes along the North Fork of the Big Thompson in the 2013 flood, Bus Tarbox and Joyce Kilmer, will be neighbors once again.
The two are soon to be neighbors in homes assembled with the help of Loveland Habitat for Humanity. A crowd of about 40 that included Loveland city councilman Ralph Trenary, who lived near Tarbox and Kilmer before their homes were destroyed while his was spared, gathered Saturday at Raven Place off of St. Louis Avenue to celebrate the groundbreaking on each of these homes.
“Today is a day of healing and new beginnings,” said Gwen Stephenson, executive director of Loveland Habitat for Humanity. “The flood was a great tragedy in our community, but it brought our community together.”
Kilmer lost everything but the clothes on her back in the flood when the river swept her house away, including her art studio full of paintings, sculptures and materials for crafting. But she is excited for her new home to finally be completed so she can resume her artistry, using the garage as a studio. She plans to enter her work in a September show in Grand Rapids, Mich. The winner will receive $250,000, Kilmer explained in an interview as she crossed her fingers.
Tarbox was able to salvage only his most-treasured possession after the flood: a Kimball grand piano that he says he played four to five times per day.
“You can tell me when to quiet down, I’ll shut the window,” Tarbox said to a future neighbor in the crowd at Raven Place.
Tarbox has been living with his two grandsons since the flood, but frequently visits Kilmer and his piano in her rented living space. She assisted recovering and restoring the instrument from flood damage. He is looking forward to the day he can have the piano back in his own home.
“It’s just a miracle,” Tarbox said of finally having a new home of his own. “You don’t expect to be back to the way you were.”
Trenary also stood before those gathered holding hands with his two former neighbors along the river.