500 Year Boulder Flood September 2013
Two years ago today biblical rains unleashed over Boulder and began what would be a week of downpour… More than I had ever seen here and more than our dry landscape could absorb fast enough. I thought I might turn back time a little this week and remind us all of what we have to be grateful for, what we learned and the resources we have to cope with natural disasters like the Boulder flood September 2013.
September is, after all, National Preparedness Month and while the sun is shining in Boulder, it’s a good time to allot some spare brain space to the subject.
Some of my writing from the week of Sept 9th, 2013:
On Monday September 9th I posted a picture of a severe rain storm delivering heaving rain to my back yard in Martin Acres, Boulder. I honestly thought it would be done in a half hour or so… As is customary here. No. Boulder is flooding!
Seventy-two hours later, the rain is still going. My yard is saturated and with every increase in intensity, the water pools. My new grass is clumped and drowning and my garage, with the little water that is getting under door, is now a place where worms go to die.
I have ventured out just twice in the last 24 hours. The first resulted in my harrowing drive back from Longmont – but at least I got back! The second was this morning. It’s just not fun to discover you are ill prepared for staying home… That the cupboards are bare and you need to go shopping. 🙁
My drive through Martin Acres this morning was a journey of wonderment. Families played in water coursing down the road, kids threw sticks into angry creeks-turned-rivers and almost everyone had a camera phone in hand.
Like a slow moving train wreck, it was hard not look as Mother Nature pounded us in submission. But, every hour the water got higher, the damage got worse and the novelty turned misery. This is what the underpass looked like at Martin Park on Martin Drive. There will be no cyclists racing down here any time soon. The creek was so full that it was washing over the concrete wall.
As of this afternoon/evening it looked worse. The creek “jumped” its banks and was last seen making a new path/new creek through the neighborhood via backyards around 35th/36th St and Moorhead. Pictures like the above one I took at the intersection of Broadway and Table Mesa show water coming up from under road, via manhole covers.
As I got to King Soopers on Table Mesa, I saw more of the “river”. Bear Creek is 10x bigger than normal. It’s muddy brown and pushing debris downstream. Sometimes, the rain subsides a bit… And the water level with it. But it’s short lived. Without fail it picks up again and the torrential downpour brings the water levels up again, perhaps even higher.
I have spent a good part of the day monitoring the MANAlist – Martin Acres Neighborhood Association listserve. It breaks my heart to hear the issues that folks are dealing with. It inspires me to see a collection of wet, tired and stressed people pulling together. Helping with info, equipment, kind words and offers of dry places to stay. Here are some of the hundreds of messages that were posted today:
One reason for the subsiding of the creek water recently was that Chris Kelly and a lot of volunteers were making a dam at the Martin Park at Martin. Chris had to leave and then the dam breached. As of half an hour ago there were people gathering to fill bags with sand and place them.
If you want to help, be prepared for cold and wet conditions. Expect to get completely soaked and be working in knee deep water on soft mud at times. The crowd is great folks, truly great.
They can use shovels and kitchen bags. If you’ve got a snow blade that’ll help a lot. Otherwise don’t bother with your car. If you’ve got a head lamp that will be helpful.
How do I stop the gas from flowing to my hot water pilot light in the basement since the water is over a foot in the basement? Help!
Western Disposal is not picking up in Martin Acres tomorrow.
Please leave your carts where they will not float away.
My ex just called — he and his family were sitting in their garden-level apartment on Thunderbird across from the park & ride when the door burst open and water started pouring in. It’s now chest-high in there (or was when they all got out). They’re on a higher floor at present, but I’m hoping they can get up the hill to stay with us here at Martin & Table Mesa — does anyone know if that route is traversable before I tell them to try to walk up, or any other thoughts/suggestions?
The water is coming into the basement through the toilet.
Any suggestions on how to block the toilet fountain?
Corner 41st and martin – it’s happening to me and the house next door.
The risk to life today and tomorrow are probably as follows:
1. Cardio failure
2. long term pulmonary duress
3. pneumonia from not keeping your head and feet dry
4. long term onset pneumonia from mold….start venting you house NOW from the highest point of air egress
5. not hugging each other enough
6. not reassuring our innocent children enough with the chips are down
7. eating too much ice cream during the deluge
8. not eating enough ice cream during the deluge
9. whining (leave all that to me)
A little known fact: more Americans died in industrial accidents during WWII than in combat = stay put, it will be over in a while.
I am on Martin Dr and the water is up to the house now. It is still best to just stay put. I have not heard anything about leaving. There is no way to walk or drive at this point.
Be wary of storm chasers looking to take advantage of desperation for immediate service……they will be knocking on doors with a smile.
Hire only verifiable local firms
The “very low risk” is surrounding my house and there are waterfalls into the basement at the back windows. The pump’s running. Don’t know how much good it’s doing though.
So far we are dry here on 32nd and Ash. I know some of you are not as fortunate. We have three unused bedrooms and plenty of other space if anyone needs a place to stay.
Anyone have a wet vac we could borrow for an hour or so? We lent ours to my sister-in-law and now with Broadway being closed, we can’t get to her. We’re on 42nd and Table Mesa. Basement is starting to truly fill.
I drove to Home Depot in Littleton as they still have sump pumps. I don’t know anything about the different models. This a new word for me. I was recommended a model for $69 which can be submerged. There are 2 more left plus other ones at all different prices. I can hang out here for another 10-15 minutes. Call me if you want me to buy one for you!
I have a couple spare rooms should anyone need a dry place to stay for tonight.
We have a new creek (name that new Boulder creek contest?) flowing across our backyard – between Ingram Ct and Hamilton Ct.
My insurance agent called and asked not how I was, but how my house was doing.
I told him that I installed a French drain on the high hazard side of my house (south side) this winter and my basement is as dry as my sense of humor.
I know folks are evacuating. I saw them walking around with pillows.
Dry basement 3 dry beds, 4 spots on couches. I can come get you.
Let me know;
See what a wonderful neighborhood Martin Acres is? I’m blessed, truly blessed, to be surrounded by good, nay – GREAT people!