In Case of Flooding...

Category: Boulder Blog

Ah, Boulder Creek: the source of so much pleasure for residents of Boulder. Whether you like to tube down her rapids, flip off the rope swing, or just sit by her banks listening to the water and plucking your banjo in typical Boulder style, the creek supplies our quasi-desert environment with much needed H2o interaction.

Every spring though, she gets a little too rambunctious. As the mercury pushes 80 those first weeks of June, the creek becomes voluminous, filled to the brim, causing even the most daring tuber to eye the rapids warily. This year has proved to be particularly troublesome. Warmer than average temperatures in Boulder last week excelerated snow melt causing officials to declare a flood advisory that is still in effect today, Friday, until 1:15 pm. The creek remains closed. A bridge providing access to Red Lion Restaurant was washed out threatening the business. Hopefully, we won't get those thunderstorms that are expected to roll through this afternoon, which could certainly rile up the creek even more.

Did you know that Boulder is the #1 flash flood risk in Colorado, and one can occur in less than 45 minutes? This is partly due to the position of Boulder at the mouth of the creek and also the amount of residents that live in the floodplain. Only 3 inches of rain over a few hours is enough to trigger an 100 year flood. It is important to know if you live or work in a floodplain especially in a time like this, so you can be prepared to evacuate if needed.

If you get confused, signs along the creek offer this ingenious advice: "In case of flooding, climb to saftey." Seriously? I really hope I never come close enough to the creek when it is flooding that I actually need to physically climb to dry land. But really, flooding is serious business, and call yourself lucky if you've never had to deal with one personally.

Growing up in the Ohio River Valley, and specifically right across the street from the Ohio River, I've got my fair share of flood experiences. Pretty much every year growing up, we had a flood come spring. The creek behind my house would fill up, over flow, and meet with the full Ohio River a mere 100 yards away and force all the residents in our area to rely on boat as transportation for at least the next week. All of the houses on my street were on stilts, so our living spaces remained dry at least, but I can recall many a 5 a.m. soggy cruise down Riverside Drive via rowboat until we reached our car, parked on a nearby hill. Our rowboat would wait faithfully at the flood's edge until we returned in the afternoon. One particularly vivid year, the flood waters rose unceremoniously fast, and showed no signs of stopping below the first floor of our house, which was already a good 20 feet off the ground. At the time, we had about 5 cats, a few dogs, 2 parrots, some rabbits, guinea pigs, and probably a hermit crab or two. We needed to evacuate, and as an 8-year-old overly passionate and dramatic animal freak, there was no way I was leaving any of my beloved pets behind. With the help of friends, we proceeded to cage the uncaged and lower them by pulley system into a waiting boat. All of our pets and us made it to safety that year, but by the next we were living in a new house 20 miles inland. The river had finally wore us out.

Although I hear that in 1894, Boulder Creek overtook Canyon Blvd. all the way to the Hill, mentions of flash flooding in Boulder seems pretty tame to me. Maybe those signs along the creek should be relocated to the banks of the Ohio, where they would read, "In case of flooding, row your pets to safety." Now there would be some advice you could use.

Stay safe everyone!


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