April 10 to April 16, 2011, is Colorado Severe Weather Awareness Week, and the City of Boulder would like to remind community members that along with severe weather comes flash flood season. Boulder’s flood season officially begins in April and runs through the end of September, but floods can happen at any time.
Boulder is the number one flash flood risk community in Colorado due to its location at the mouth of Boulder Canyon, the number of people who live and work within the Boulder Creek floodplain, and the numerous other drainage basins running through the city. Therefore, flood safety and preparation is always a high priority for the community. However, following the Fourmile Canyon Fire, there is a lack of vegetation and permeable soil in the burn area. This creates an increased possibility of rain run-off and flooding on both Boulder Creek and Fourmile Canyon Creek if a severe storm were to occur over the burn area. This increased flood potential could last anywhere from 2 to 10 years until the landscape starts to recover.
The City of Boulder and its partners are working together to prepare for the season and to educate community members on how to prepare.
What can you do?
Be alert. It can be raining in the mountains and dry in Boulder. Rainfall in the burn area could result in:
• Muddy or murky creek water downstream.
• Creek levels rising more quickly.
• Higher frequency of flooded underpasses.
• Increased possibility of flash flooding.
If it is raining, avoid seeking shelter in underpasses. Many of Boulder’s underpasses serve the double purpose of conveying flood waters. This means that they are meant to flood and to help contain flood waters from overflowing into other areas.
Remember, flash floods can literally occur IN A FLASH during a severe storm. It’s important that residents and people who work in Boulder keep track of the weather and know the dangers. Here are some steps residents and employees can take to increase their safety if a flood event should occur in Boulder: Before a flood – Be ready:
• Have a plan for where to meet in an emergency and make sure children know where to go when they are at school or away from home.
• Keep an emergency kit accessible. Include a battery-powered radio, extra batteries, flashlights, rubber boots and gloves, first-aid supplies, medicines, water stored in tightly-sealed containers and food that requires no cooking or refrigeration.
• If you’re concerned about your property being flooded, consider purchasing flood insurance. A homeowner’s insurance policy will not cover flood damage. There is a 30-day waiting period before new coverage goes into effect.
• Fill out a Family Flood Action Plan and post it in your home. Visit www.boulderfloodinfo.net to print off a Family Flood Action Plan or pick one up at one of the Boulder Public Library branches or at the city’s Municipal Building at 1777 Broadway.
• Sign up to get emergency alerts sent to you on your phone, email or Twitter account at www.BoCo911Alert.com.
During a flood:
• Move to higher ground immediately.
• Stay out of flowing waters. Swift moving waters may sweep people away.
• Avoid driving through flooded areas. Cars float in 18 inches of water and half of all flood fatalities are auto related.
• Stay away from power lines and electrical wires. Electrocution is the number two killer in floods.
• If time allows, turn off electricity and gas.
• When an emergency warning is issued by sirens, radio or other media, seek response information immediately. Tune radios to 850 AM or televisions to local news stations. After a flood:
• Stay away from disaster areas until authorized. Clean everything that got wet to avoid bacteria and mold.
• Continue to monitor local media for disaster and recovery information.
There is no way to predict whether flooding will occur. It is dependent on many variables including intensity, duration and location of storms as well as existing soil conditions. The best course of action is to be alert and be prepared.
The city maintains a flood information website that can help residents prepare before, during and after a flood event. For more information about personal preparedness, visit www.boulderfloodinfo.net. To sign up for emergency alerts on your phone, email or Twitter account, go to www.BoCo911Alert.com.