The breadth and intensity of the flooding that took place in Colorado the week after Sept. 11 were staggering. So was the amount of rain that fell in a normally dry state in a normally dry month: Boulder received as much rain in September as it normally gets in a year, and most of that in one five-day period.
Seventeen counties were affected – an area that stretched from the foothills west of Boulder up to Estes Park and east almost to Nebraska. At least eight people died in the floods, and thousands were evacuated, many by helicopter from remote mountain locations. Some 200 miles of state highways and about 50 bridges were wiped out or severely damaged, isolating many communities partially or completely.
It was a tough disaster by any measure for a state that has been hit hard in recent years by wildfires, with hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to state infrastructure and thousands of homes damaged or destroyed. Certain towns – such as tiny Jamestown, in the foothills west of Boulder, and Lyons, a town of 2,000 known for its bluegrass festivals – were hit particularly hard, and the rebuilding process is only just beginning.
– Amanda Paulson, Staff writer