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Did you know just six inches of rapidly moving water can knock a person down?
Flooding typically occurs when prolonged rain falls over several days, when intense rain falls over a short period of time, or when debris buildup causes a river or stream to overflow onto the surrounding area. Flooding can also result from the failure of a water control structure, such as a levee or dam.
Since 1900, floods have taken more than 10,000 lives in the United States. Floods are one of the most common hazards nationwide, however not all floods are alike. Some floods develop slowly, while others such a flash floods, can develop in just a few minutes without visible signs of rain. Additionally, floods can be local, impacting a neighborhood or community, or very large, affecting multiple states. Flood-prone areas have been identified in 267 cities and towns and in all of Colorado’s 64 counties. Colorado is susceptible to wildfires, which also makes our state susceptible to flooding in heavily eroded burn areas. It accumulates quicker than soil can absorb it. What makes flooding exceptionally difficult for individuals is that flood damage is not covered by traditional homeowners’ insurance policies. This can leave the unprepared exceptionally vulnerable to financial hardship following a flood event. There is a 30-day waiting period before flood insurance goes into effect, so don’t delay.
Additionally, familiarizing yourself with the terms below may help with what to expect so you can properly prepare.
Explore the information below to learn what you can do to prepare your home for a flood, including how to get flood insurance.
References, Resources and More Information:
The Big Thompson Canyon flood is known as one of the most deadly flash floods in Colorado’s recorded history. It was the eve of Colorado’s 100th anniversary of Statehood and thousands of people were enjoying the beauty and recreation of the mountain canyons, unaware of the unusual and unique atmospheric conditions that were occurring.
A thunderstorm lifted along the Front Range and began to dump heavy rain on the region at approximately 6 p.m. The storm remained stationary for more than three hours and dumped a foot of rain into the canyon. Eight inches of rain fell in one hour and turned the normally calm two-foot-deep trickle into a raging torrent of water 19 feet high. Sweeping 10-foot boulders in front of it, the wall of water sped down the canyon slope. The water moved so quickly that, even had Highway 34 not been washed out, the only avenue of escape was up the canyon walls.
The sudden flood that churned down the narrow Big Thompson Canyon scoured the river channel that night claimed the lives of 144 people, including two law enforcement officers trying to evacuate people in danger. There were also 250 reported injuries. The tragedy caused over $35 million in damages (in 1977 dollars) to 418 homes and businesses, automobiles, numerous bridges, paved and unpaved roads, power and telephone lines, and many other structures.
Photos courtesy of the Colorado National Guard, FEMA/Steve Zumwalt and FEMA/Steve Zumwalt - Jamestown during September 2013 flood.