Colorado Flood Not ‘The Big One,’ But Still An Event For The History Books
|By Charlie Brennan, Daily Camera, Boulder, Colo.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Those were two of the messages Thursday out of the
"I'm hedging a little bit," Houck admitted. "I would say that in some cases the answer is yes. and in some cases the answer is no. If I had to go to one side or the other, I would say I would lean more toward no, this is not the big one."
Houck pointed out that the 10 lives lost does not place the September event even in the top five
He also said that the economic toll may not ultimately exceed the
A flood of data was tossed out at the forum's morning session, along with qualifiers that some numbers -- such as the storm's cost in dollars and cents -- are still being calculated, evaluated and debated.
But, said Houck, "This was a human disaster, as well ... It's very important to remember that there is a human side to this as well, and that's something we never want to forget."
The forum, perhaps the most extensive examination of the September food to have been convened to date, was co-hosted by the
Nezette Rydell, meteorologist in charge at the
"You ask a meteorologist, did you predict this? You'll get two answers. Yes and no. Nobody predicted eight inches of rain in one day. It didn't happen. We were talking about abnormal amounts of rain."
"This was an extreme event. Modeling doesn't really do a lot with extreme events," said
Even more than five months after the fact,
"Doctoral students will be kept very busy for a long time to come" trying to figure out why the storm set up over the
But one thing of which she is already certain,
'Sometimes better lucky than good'
"We thought we were going to have 300 to 500 people dead in the canyons" at one point, said Chard. Instead -- thanks in part to periodic breaks in the rain that allowed for helicopter extractions of residents from
"We're very thankful that sometimes, better lucky than good," said Chard, who credited the county's experience with the devastating Fourmile Fire of 2010 for fueling the coordinated, multi-agency response to September's events. "We handled the flood remarkably well. We've had disasters that were a fraction of this, and we had more community criticism."
But Chard confessed that there were more than a few moments when officials wondered how they'd pull through, recalling the sense of, "I can't believe this is going on, it can't get any worse. It felt like getting punched in the face almost every five minutes with a new problem."
"I think it speaks strongly to the level of preparedness in our county, the effort and investment putting into reinforcing infrastructure, floodplain management, flood insurance programs for residences, the preparedness and community's willingness to accept the message and know what to do when something happens -- all are huge contributory factors to the success that we had during this flooding event.
"We'll carry that forward and develop an even higher level of preparedness as a community, city and county, that I think will add more resilience into our community."
'We're still begging for data'
Previously, he said the volume of water in
He did say, however, that indirect measurements for
"We want to get the peak discharges right before we go down the road of assigning annual exceedence probabilities," Kimbrough said. "That's the first step, and we're still working on that.
"When we have a number like 31,400 (cubic feet per second) at
But, "We're still begging for data," Doesken said, citing the North Fork of the Big Thompson as one location where gauges were overwhelmed or rendered non-functional.
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