Until last week, I didn’t know what a flood looked like. In fact, before this past week, I had the complacent notion that the world would stay pretty much as it was when I was born, at least for the duration of my time on it. After all, how often does a 500-Year Flood actually happen in MY lifetime? And while I’ve long understood that the most apocalyptic events of our personal lives can happen in an instant, I had never seen how quickly such changes can happen on our planet.
This was a sidewalk near Erie, Colorado, with a bridge well over a small stream. The water had topped it during the night, and large parts of the sidewalk are gone.
Normally, this bridge over the Left Hand Creek in Longmont, Colorado, has 8’6″ clearance over the sidewalk that runs underneath it next to a shallow stream. As you can see, there is a reason that bridge above it is so wide.
And this is the scene downstream from that bridge. The neighborhood next to it was evacuated in preparation for a release from the dam above at Nederland. Normally, there is a foot path where this raging river is. Note the uprooted tree.
Up the road, the town of Lyons was devastated. No one was being allowed up the canyon toward Estes Park, but check out the water line on this building at Leukonen Brothers Stone at the edge of town. The owners had already cleaned out the mud next to this office, but a few feet out from it, their inventory was half buried in several feet of muck from the nearby river.
Before last week, this was a flat pasture with a solid dirt road running through it. A small stream passed under a bridge a hundred yards away. The river broke its banks upstream, flooded the pasture, and took out this stretch of road. The gap is about 100′ across and 15′ deep. There’s a free hanging gas line stretching across the gap, creating the ripple to the left of the picture. Below is a massive electrical pole. I’m afraid the picture doesn’t do the depth justice.
This is the new river downstream from the washed out road. The day before, it stretched across the entire area in the picture, flooding houses downstream in a plain roughly 1/3 of a mile wide.
This is another river that re-routed near Left Hand Canyon, just outside of Boulder. Its bridge is a couple hundred yards to the left, relatively unharmed.
And the picture of the day — when life gives you mud, have a mud race. Well played, Boulder. Well played.
As I traversed the area, I saw furniture drying on lawns and spoke with numerous exhausted workers restoring gas and water, as well as National Guard soldiers securing dangerous areas. Above me, the Chinook helicopters made their rescue runs, still hard at work rescuing those who are stranded in the mountains. No whining, and no slacking. Just the steady press and determination that we will push through this to better days.
For more pictures of the flood zone, see Susie Lindau’s excellent coverage at Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride. Storm Chasing Through Boulder’s 100-Year Flood
All the best to all of you for facing life’s overnight changes.