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September 2013 Flood


From Sept. 11 through 15, 2013, the Front Range region experienced significant rainfall, causing flooding, loss of life, and widespread damage. More than 18 inches of rain fell in the area causing 25 to 100- year flooding along Boulder's 15 drainageways. As a result, Boulder County, including the City of Boulder, were designated a Federal Disaster Area. Below includes information on  recovery goals, funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), progress to date and council memos related to the flood recovery effort. 

Flood Recovery Objectives from 2013

While the majority of flood recovery efforts have been completed--many within the first year after the flood--city staff, consultants and community partners continue to work diligently to make progress in achieving the council-adopted objectives for both near-term recovery and long-term resilience:

  1. Help people get assistance  - Facilitate access to individual assistance for affected homeowners, renters and businesses to support their recovery from flood impacts and strengthen long-term resilience.
  2. Restore and enhance our infrastructure  - Invest in projects to restore services and to rebuild and enhance infrastructure, as appropriate, in the interests of public health and safety, community quality of life, and long-term resilience. 
  3. Assist business recovery  - Work with the Boulder business community and key partners to connect affected businesses with resources, recover quickly from flood impacts, and support long-term economic vitality.
  4. Pursue and focus resources to support recovery efforts  - Work in partnership with volunteers, governmental and other agencies to maximize financial resources and efficiencies for recovery.
  5. Learn together and plan for the future  - Engage the Boulder community in assessing neighborhood impacts, refining and rethinking community design options, prioritizing actions and opportunities that mitigate hazards before rebuilding, and supporting long-term community resilience and sustainability. By doing so, we build a city both greater and more beautiful than before.

Recovery as of 2018

As of September 2018, flood recovery work is approximately 98 percent complete in terms of dollars spent. Only one Open Space trail repair project, a short reroute on Bear Canyon Road, remains to be completed. This project, which received federal clearance to proceed this summer, will be completed winter 2018.

The city has received approximately $13 million in reimbursements from insurance, FEMA, and the State of Colorado. The pace of reimbursements slowed dramatically in 2017, as the State of Colorado (the administrator for the FEMA grant) shifted focus from processing reimbursements to processing closeouts. Under the new process, reimbursements are held until flood recovery projects are closed out.

A September 6, 2018, memo to City Council pdf provides complete information on 2013 flood recovery.

Resilience as of 2018

The city has been awarded more than $8 million in non-FEMA grants to support recovery and resilience projects in Housing, Open Space and Mountain Parks, Utilities, and Community Services. Grant funding for resilience projects include:

  • $2.8 million toward the Wonderland Creek Greenways Improvement Project – This project, which was substantially completed in late summer 2018, reduces the risk of flooding for 212 structures and 392 dwelling units. The project also separates the creek flows from the Boulder and White Rock irrigation ditches, mitigating the flood risk in the King’s Ridge neighborhood (downstream and east of the project). 
  • $3.5 million toward the purchase of the Ponderosa Mobile Home Park to address ongoing concerns of the current infrastructure (which resulted in significant flood damage) and provide long-term affordability for the residents. The city acquired the property in August 2017 and is working on a plan to begin installing utilities and building in 2020.
  • $1 million toward water and sewer infrastructure to extend city utilities to up to 40 homes in the Old Tale neighborhood, which were affected by the 2013 flood.
  • $215,000 toward the development of a pilot program that will provide home assessments to residents in order to improve personal resilience, avoid repetitive loss and establish metrics that would provide a baseline for measuring resilience across the county. This program will also include $50,000 in city- and county-funded rebates to assist residents in implementing recommended improvements.