Colorado Floods

By | September 18, 2013

Wow, guys.  It’s been quite a week.

Coal Creek Canyon Flood - Aftermath (20)

After a week of the wettest weather I’ve ever known, the sun is finally shining in Coal Creek Canyon.  It started raining on Wednesday morning and just kept raining.  You have to understand: it doesn’t rain in Colorado!  I mean, ya know, it does, but not like this.  This was the wettest, thickest, heaviest rain I’ve ever seen – and it went on for days!

The nearest official rain gauge registered the 7-day total as 10.36 inches, but I stuck a Mason jar on the deck on Thursday, and by the next morning, it was overflowing.  I’m guessing we were getting close to 1”/hour for several hours.

Our first indication that this wasn’t a regular storm came on Thursday morning.  Bruce was just getting in the shower when the phone rang: it was an automated call from Xcel, explaining that the natural gas had been turned off.  So, no hot water.  Perplexed, we turned on the computer and checked www.cotrip.org.  Sure enough, Highway 72 was closed.

Then we turned on the news.

Lyons is being evacuated! The Big Thompson is destroying things!  People are stuck in trees! Things were getting real.

And still, it kept raining.

We spent the next couple of days at the house, just waiting.  We walked around in the rain, talked to neighbors, and brought coffee to the rain-soaked JeffCo cops who were manning the barricade at Twin Spruce.

But mostly, we stared in awe at the amount of damage that water could do.

Neighbor's driveway is gone
(Click for video)

The little drainage ditch that runs along Twin Spruce/Gap Rd. was a raging torrent of water.  I don’t think it even has a name most of the time, but now it was destroying driveway bridges, ripping apart culverts, and washing debris onto the road.

Coal Creek Canyon Flood - Aftermath (16)

Further down, it ripped apart the road itself.

Coal Creek Canyon Flood - Aftermath (17)

In some places, there’s less than a lane remaining.  See the yellow line?

Coal Creek Canyon Flood - Aftermath (9)

The intersection of Twin Spruce and Highway 72 is a waterfall.

Coal Creek Canyon flood - September 2013 (2)

It swamped the liquor store and the Kwik Mart.

Coal Creek Canyon flood - September 2013 (19)

And ripped off the deck of the old coffee shop building.

After a summer of worrying about fire danger, all this water was a bit of shock.  But now, the flows are finally starting to subside, and there has been a steady stream of road construction equipment running back and forth in front of our house.  We’re moving into the recovery process, although it’s going to be a long time before things are back to normal.

But compared to so many, we’re incredibly lucky.  Our house is fine – we took in a little water in our storage/utility room, but a couple of hours wringing out towels was able to solve the problem.  We don’t have natural gas (no hot water, stove/oven, or furnace), but we’ve had power, internet, and clean water from the well throughout the whole storm.  There’s only one dirt road to get out of our canyon, but at least we can get out!  All in all, it could’ve been much worse.

I posted a few more pictures on Flickr, so take a look if you’re interested: Coal Creek Canyon Flooding.


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