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Flood Scare

Boulder's Inevitable Flood and Its Promoters and Deniers

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, May 10, 1995.

One hundred and one years after Boulder’s last major flood, brows are furrowed among local officials who monitor such things. Heavy spring snow in the mountains combined with slow moving and fecund rain systems up our chances of seeing Boulder as a pond this year.

It is no hyperbole. Photographs of the 1894 flood indicate Boulder Creek achieved a width of over a mile back then. Now, because there are more toys in the tub - i.e. more buildings, cars, and people - the effects of even a smaller flood would be magnified beyond prediction. It is, despite fairly intricate warning systems and civil defense procedures, bordering on scary. And the clique of individuals who have periodically through the years assured us that the flood danger was a paper dragon, a bogeyman of statistical record keepers and not a bona fide threat have been remarkably silent of late. Don’t let them be forgotten. If the flood indeed comes, and our library, city hall, and Justice Center are flooded out and severely damaged, if the spanking new buildings along the Creek are damaged and washed away - if anyone killed or severely injured - let’s make sure that all public and private officials who assuaged our fears in the past are held accountable.

The flood plain and flood way in Boulder have metamorphosed over the years to suit the changing political needs. Without any new discussions about the natural world, the borders of plain and way magically change to suit various entities, most notably developers of the 9th and Canyon lot across the library. And the library itself. I hope someone has kept track of the statements of those on City Council and those wannabes over the years that have left us with a crowded flood plain and a far from pristine floodway to cope with the residue from high snow and low rain this spring. Every spring.

Next year, the 20th anniversary of the Big Thompson flood, let us hope nothing in recent memory usurps it, although we must know the Boulder flood will come, if not this year, soon.