Jamestown, Colo., a small mountain town of 300, was cut off in September 2013 because of the Boulder County flood.
Mitigation and preparedness efforts can be traced back to a series of events: The flood of 1969 led the city to adopt flood plain regulations after four days of rainfall drenched the area with more than nine inches of water. Read about how the University of Colorado at Boulder relied on relationships and mitigation efforts during the 2013 flooding. In early September, the National Weather Service told Boulder’s emergency managers that monsoon season was coming and how it could affect the area. Internal policies have shifted the city and county Emergency Management Office from a planning and preparatory function into also a predictive function, Chard said, so when there’s a possibility for an intense storm, the emergency management staff follows the severe weather protocol and mans the EOC to maintain situational awareness.

This is key because one of the most dangerous aspects of a flash flood is that it doesn’t allow for much lead time. Then in 1976, the Big Thompson flood served as a lesson for all Colorado communities that are at risk of flash flooding.
In this case, the flooding was widespread so messaging wasn’t needed for just select groups of at-risk residents. But if the flooding had been threatening specific areas, Boulder was prepared with hazard-specific alerting polygons. 1 flash flood risk in Colorado, and 15 creeks with flood plains affect more than 15 percent of the city.

And in 2010, to the west of Boulder, the Fourmile Canyon fire burned 169 homes and 6,181 acres, leaving a burn scar that greatly increased the likelihood of flash flooding because of a lack of plants and undergrowth to trap moisture. These natural disasters created a more prepared city and county, and while four lives were lost in Boulder during the 2013 flooding, the lessons and initiatives from past disasters proved immeasurably valuable.

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