The Catastrophe In Colorado

A reader sends the startling video seen above:

I know that natural disasters aren’t a natural fit with the Dish, but you should know that this isn’t your typical “flash flood out of the mountains”, where a few cars get washed away. What happened here on the Front Range of the Rockies was cataclysmic (some were saying “biblical”).

It really started a week ago Monday, when, as the weather folks say, a plume of tropical moisture from Mexico set up over the Front Range. Then, a cold front moved in and stalled. In Boulder, more than three inches of rain fell in three days, quite unusual at any time of year but just crazy for September, which is normally one of the driest months.

Then things got very interesting.

From Thursday-Friday, we got over 11 inches of rain – 9 inches in a 24-hour period. As a result, all of the roads in Boulder County leading into the mountains were washed out. Estes Park and Lyons were completely isolated because bridges had washed away. Longmont was cut in half by the St. Vrain creek, with nearly 6,000 households forced to evacuate. Many streets were closed in Boulder, and many remain closed nearly a week later.

And of course all that water must go somewhere, in this case the South Platte River. Over last weekend, every city and town along the river was flooded. In several towns, the wastewater treatment plants were beached, and as a consequence they now live in “no flush zones”: no water down any drain (including toilets of course), no washing dishes, no laundry.

Highway 34, which runs through Big Thompson River to Estes Park, had miles of the roadway completely destroyed. It will take months, maybe a year, to repair. Early reports note 1,500 homes destroyed, 17,500 damaged, and 12,000 people evacuated. Starting on Saturday, over 20 Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters started airlifting people out of the mountains.

Ok, I’ll wrap it up. I have a friend who lives about 6 miles west of Boulder, but 3,000 feet above town. He had to catch a ride on a Blackhawk, and he doesn’t know when he will be able to return. [Above] is a short video he uploaded before the flood got really bad. More here.